Hill Pedal Harpsichord (pedal instrument only) built in 1982, my opus 128, acoustically rebuilt in 2006.
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The pedal instrument is similar to that in the photo below. With the pedal instrument (1 x 16’, 2 x 8’, and 1 x 4’) are included: the stand to support a manual harpsichord, the pedalboard (C – f above middle c), and the bench. Priced to sell quickly.
It is a sad fact that all previous pedal harpsichord designs mimic the pedal piano designs from the early 19th century. A litany of problems that plague that antique design are listed below. I invented my design in 1980 expressly to solve those age old problems:
A: the problem of tuning the pedal harpsichord (previous designs lay flat on the floor and are as wide as the pedalboard—meaning you have to have help to tune the pedal harpsichord as it can’t be tuned by the person sitting at the manual harpsichord). My design allows the player to sit at the manual harpsichord and easily reach down to tune the pedal instrument.
B: the problem of excessive energy dissipation that results in an unfocused sound in every preceding design. The previous designs being as wide as the pedalboard meant that the soundboard had to be equally wide…too wide to have any significant focus to the sound coming from the pedal instrument.
C: Again, the width of the instrument in the previous designs from the 19th century and on is too wide to fit into a normal van, which makes ita problem to transport the instrument,
D: Because the instrument is within easy reach from the bench, means that the problem of regulating and voicing the instrument is easier.
E: Then there is the problem of supporting the manual instrument above (not a problem for the 19th models intended to fit under a 6 ½oct. fortepianos but a definite problem for harpsichords which are narrower than those pedal board width pedal harpsichords).
In fact, it is a perfect design and I expected other harpsichord makers to copy the design, naturally, without asking me or giving me credit for the design when they did. But back in 1992 the folks at Hubbard Harpsichords Inc. even had the gall to claim that they had invented the design.
2. Hill Italian Single Manual Harpsichord after de Zentis – Opus 475 made in 2015, 2 x 8″ in brass, GG – f “”” at A-415 with transposing to A-440, Buff stop, handstops on the wrestplank, Boxwood naturals, Ebony topped sharps, Boxwood arcades,built as a true inner case of Italian Cypress, pearwood jacks, walnut registers, parchment rosette, with walnut music desk and three legged stand. Does not come with an exterior case.
3. Hill Flemish Double Manual Harpsichord to be made in 2019 after the 1640 “Ahaus” Ruckers that Leonhardt used in his Froberger recording. It has a GG – e””” compass, 2 x 8’, 1 x 4’, transposing to A-440,Ebony naturals, Bone topped stained sharps, carved trefoil keyfronts, French style coupler,pearwood jacks, wood registers, 4 screw-in legs, simple music desk, with Flemish papers on the interior case, painted and gilded on the exterior and interior lid and molding. Will post a recording and photo as soon as possible, meanwhile, the following recording of one of my earlier Ahaus Ruckers instruments can be heard below.
Here is Jean Rondeau playing Rameau on my Opus 194 made back in 1983/4, which is based on the Ahaus Ruckers.
Froberger -Toccata II -Blandine Verlet,1989 played on a Hans Ruckers II,1624 (Colmar)
4. Hill French Double Manual Harpsichord after Taskin Opus 383 made in 2005.
Though built in 2005, I only finished this harpsichord this year by decorating the soundboard, installing and finishing off the action and making a stand and music desk for it. It has yet to be painted and gilded. This harpsichord is unique amongst all the instruments I have made because the soundboard I used in it came from a Worel, 6 and one half octave, fortepiano made in 1835. I came to own this piano through a negotiation with a music school that had bought it for their students to understand the music of that period on an original fortepiano. However, the instrument sounded completely dead from middle c to the top note in the treble. To correct that problem, I took out the original soundboard, installed a new one and the instrument finally sounded wonderfully full, singing, and powerful in the treble as well as in the bass.
Since there was nothing wrong with the wood in the soundboard, indeed, being split and old, both being serious advantages for sound quality, I was eager to make a harpsichord out of the soundboard. As it turned out, it is perhaps the best harpsichord (meaning: being most like a fine original antique French harpsichord) I have ever made.
Photos and recorded sound samples of this harpsichord will be posted as soon as the harpsichord has been completely finished. The following recording is of a Taskin harpsichord I made in 2000, my opus 345.
5. Fortepiano after Cristofori, Opus 444 made in 2012. I made this instrument to show at the Boston Early Music Festival. This instrument will be my last of this size.
One of the interesting peculiarities of the Cristofori type brass strung fortepianos is that they are pure, sweet and strong sounding, which makes them useful for playing the entire body of harpsichord literature as well as all piano music that will fit on its FF – g””” compass, as you will hear from the few recordings made when I was testing microphones and the Zoom recorder. Iron strung Viennese fortepianos tend to not sound so pure nor sweet. Another curious feature of my double brass strung pianos is that they are amazingly stable in tuning.
Double strung completely in Brass music wire, this fortepiano is equipped with a true “una chorda“ that is activated by manually shifting the keyboard from left to right. The dampers are made to lift with a knee lever. This is one of the few pianos that I have made that I have had in my possession since it was made and so have tinkered with the action to perfect the voicing and touch.
6. Harpsichord after the Colmar Ruckers, Opus 486, made in 2016. A double manual compass of GG (no GG#)- d”””, and transposes to 440, has 2 x 8″ registers, 1 x 4″ register, Buff stop with the handstop in keywell, Pear wood jacks, ebony naturals, bone topped sharps, boxwood arcades, beechwood registers, Flemish soundboard decoration, antique style music desk, and double frame platform stand. Pictured below with a sound sample performed by Mark Edwards.
Professor Mark Edwards playing opus 486made after the 1624 colmar Ruckers on october 3, 2016 at the Oberlin conservatory in oberlin, ohio.