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date: 16 October 2019

Belt, Philip R(alph) locked

  • Luis Sanchez


(b Hagerstown, IN, Jan 2, 1927). American fortepiano maker. In 1959 he discovered and later copied an original German square piano by Christian Ernst Frederici (c1758) in Cambridge City, Indiana. In 1965 his copy of this instrument attracted the attention of Scott Odell, conservator of musical instruments at the Smithsonian Institution, who invited Belt to examine and make drawings of the Smithsonian’s fortepiano built by Johann Lodewijk Dulcken (1795, formerly attributed to Johann Andreas Stein). That same year, after a short apprenticeship with william Dowd, he became an apprentice of frank Hubbard. Soon Belt started receiving commissions and relocated to New Hampshire, where he began making fortepianos based on the instrument at the Smithsonian. Harvard University professor Luise Vosgerchian purchased Belt’s first fortepiano in 1967 and used it in a concert with violinist Robert Koff, including works by C.P.E. Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. This performance on a replica was unprecedented in the United States; Belt had broken ground in what would become a new era in historical keyboard performance. In ...

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