Bach harpsichord [Ger. Bach-Cembalo, Bach-Flügel]
- Martin Elste
[Ger. Bach-Cembalo, Bach-Flügel]
A two-manual instrument made after 1700 by the workshop of Harrass in Breitenbach, Thuringia. It was owned by the Voss family of Berlin at the end of the 18th century. The instrument then passed into the hands of the family of the Bach scholar Wilhelm Rust, and in 1890 it was sold by the Leipzig collector Paul de Wit to the newly founded Sammlung Alter Musikinstrumente, now the Musikinstrumenten-Museum des Staatlichen Instituts für Musikforschung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (catalogue no.316). During the sales negotiations it was said that the instrument had once belonged to J.S. Bach and had come into the possession of the Voss family by way of W.F. Bach. This claim, which cannot be proved, led to its being regarded from about 1900 to about 1960 as the ideal of the harpsichord, so that it was copied and imitated in all sorts of ways. It has a rather unusual disposition (8′ and 16′ on the lower manual, 4′ and 8′ with buff stop and push coupler on the upper manual), which has been followed in instruments produced by Ammer, Dolmetsch, Neupert, Sperrhake and Wittmayer. Recent research has shown that the instrument originally had a three-register disposition (4′ and 16′ in the lower manual; 8′ with buff stop and push coupler in the upper manual) which was expanded to four in the 18th century....