SINGLE-MANUAL FLEMISH HARPSICHORD
Stonington, Connecticut, USA (early-1990s)
This instrument was made by Zuckerman Harpsichords International, Connecticut, USA. It is based on a Ruckers 17th Century instrument from Antwerp. This harpsichord is very special, as it was not made as an instrument, but was a ‘kit’ to be assembled by the buyer – like a jigsaw. In the 1970s and 80s, early music and instruments were going through a revival. Several keyboard manufacturers designed and produced harpsichord ‘kits’ as a response to this revival, making harpsichords and various other early instruments readily available. This Zuckerman Flemish Single Manual based on a Ruckers instrument was a popular model from this period.
The Ruckers Family dominated harpsichord making in northern Italy during the first half of the 17th century. Ruckers keyboard instruments are revered in a similar manner to Stradivarius string instruments.
The instrument has two strings for each key, and a buff stop (to create a lute-like sound). Unlike historically exact replicas, this instrument is able to be transposed up or down to facilitate normal playing temperament (a440 Hz) or early temperament (a415 Hz).
Mr Romaldo Giurgola - the architect of Parliament House, Canberra – originally owned this instrument. Mr Giurgoloa donated the instrument to the people of Canberra in 1995. In 1996, the ACT Government Cultural Council gave a grant to the Early Music Council of Canberra to have the instrument rebuilt. Mr Tony McGee restored the instrument by replacing the soundboard and plectra, as well as adding a transposing key. The instrument has been housed in various homes of members of the Early Music Council of Canberra, as well as the Ainslie Arts Centre, ArtSound FM, and the Wesley Uniting Church, where it was hired out for concerts and recordings.
In 2006, ArtSound FM donated the instrument to the ANU Keyboard Institute, where it has remained.