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date: 10 August 2020


  • Anne Beetem Acker
  •  and Laurence Libin


German manufacturer of harpsichords, spinets, and clavichords of modern design (Serien Instrumente). The company was founded in Wolfratshausen by the organist Kurt Wittmayer (b Hermannstadt, 22 Nov 1917; d Bad Tölz, 4 Sept 1997) in 1949 after he moved from Munich, where he had begun building harpsichords in 1947 with Rudolf Schüler as Wittmayer & Schüler while both were students. Although the two builders worked independently after Wittmayer moved to Munich, their instruments have many similarities, particularly their jacks. Recognizing that the sound of his Serien models ‘was not ideal’ (as he wrote to Wallace Zuckermann), in the late 1960s Wittmayer expanded production to include copies after traditional models. To overcome acoustic deficiencies, some of Wittmayer’s early, very heavy modern harpsichords were fitted with electronic amplification and loudspeakers installed in the soundboard; one of these was sold to the Indianapolis Symphony after it had been used by Herbert von Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic in a concert in New York. Isolde Ahlgrimm, Glenn Gould, and Malcolm Hamilton are among performers who recorded with Wittmayer’s modern harpsichords. As of ...

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