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date: 29 February 2020


  • Anne Beetem Acker


Harpsichord manufacturing firm founded by Simon Sabathil (b c1896; d Vancouver, 1980) in 1948 near Salzburg. Sabathil was a choir director, pianist, and organist who had worked for the Förster piano firm in Munich. His son Sigurd (b Marienbad, Czechoslovakia, 1939) began working with his father at the age of nine. In 1959 they emigrated to Canada and in 1960 established S. Sabathil & Son, Ltd in Vancouver, moving to Bowen Island in 1989. In the 1970s they manufactured annually about 100 harpsichords, virginals, and clavichords of modern design, the largest harpsichords being more than three metres long and having eight pedals. After Simon’s death the firm turned more to historical prototypes, but in the 1990s production dropped to 10 to 30 instruments annually, and output declined into the 2000s, when Sigurd shifted his business to the restoration of antique pianos. Sabathil’s modern harpsichords have an aluminium frame that overclads a wooden pinblock, adjustable plastic jacks, a crowned soundboard (which in later years was made from local western red cedar), and double-pinned laminated maple bridges. About 30% of the firm’s instruments were sold in Canada, most of the rest in the USA....

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