‘The Harmonious Thuringian’


A recording of late-seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century music associated with the early years of Bach and Handel and performed on a reconstruction of a surviving German harpsichord from the same time.


Terence Charlston, harpsichord.


Music by J. Christoph and J.S.Bach, J.C.F. Fischer, Handel, Kuhnau, Marchand, J.P. and J. Krieger, Merula, J. Pachelbel, Ritter, and Zachow.



Listen to sample tracks


Click here to listen to opening of J. P. Krieger: Passaglia in D minor (Front 8’)


Click here to listen to the end of J. C. F. Fischer: Chaconne (Back 8’)


Click here to listen to the end of Kuhnau: Praeludium (Front 8’ with buff stop)


Click here to listen to the end of J. S. Bach: Fugue in E minor BWV 914 (Tutti, 2 x 8’)


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1. Full track listing









Toccata in E minor BWV 914

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)














Suite VIII in G major

Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656–1746)













Prelude in D minor

Louis Marchand (1669–1732)





Passaglia in D minor

Johann Philipp Krieger (1649–1725)





Fantasia in G minor BWV 917

J.S. Bach





In dich hab ich gehoffet Herr'

Johann Krieger (1651–1735)





Allemande in descessum Caroli xi Regis Sveciae

Christian Ritter (1645/50–1717)





Praeludium [and Fugue] in E flat major BWV Anh. 177

Johann Christoph Bach (1642–1703 )














Fugue in C major

Anon. [by Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706)?]





Capriccio Cromatico overo Capriccio … per le semi tuoni

Tarquinio Merula (1594/5–1665)





Prelude in A major BWV 896

J.S. Bach





Nun komm den Heiden Heiland

Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (1663–1712 )






Johann Kuhnau (1660–1722)





Suite in E major HWV 430

George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)















Air and variations




2. The repertoire


2.1. Finding a musical match for the instrument


The two most important composers of the Baroque period, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, were born in the same year about 100 miles apart in adjacent regions of present day Central Germany: Thuringia and Saxony. Their musical education overlapped in many ways and while they are not known to have met, they shared a common tradition of keyboard playing and teaching. This recording project was inspired by David Evan’s reconstruction of an anonymous Thuringian harpsichord dated 1715 and a desire to find repertoire appropriate to it. It explores the common musical heritage of Bach and Handel using this remarkable instrument—a reconstruction of the sound which a locally-built, Saxon or Thuringian harpsichord might have made. Such an instrument would have been played at home and in church and it is very likely that Bach and Handel’s first experience of plucked keyboards was on an instrument of this type rather than the later, more sophisticated instruments they came to know in their subsequent careers. By recording examples of the music they may have studied as youngsters, and some representative pieces of their own dating from their early maturity, on a harpsichord built, as it were, in the ‘local vernacular’ along 17th-century principles, I hope to demonstrate the appropriateness of a completely different type of harpsichord sound for early Bach and Handel, than is used and heard today.


There are nine different types of piece represented on this recording: toccata, prelude, fugue, fantasia, dance, variations, tombeau, chorale and air. Each is typical of the rich keyboard repertoire and most will be familiar forms to listeners acquainted with Baroque music. Ritter’s Allemande is a tombeau or musical monument: a not uncommon association for this dance in the seventeenth century. J.S. Bach is represented by three works: one of the seven early toccatas and a fantasia or double-fugue on two subjects and a short three-part prelude. The Handel suite in E major is amongst his best known pieces and concludes with his celebrated ‘Harmonious Blacksmith’ Variations.



2.2 The sources of the music


The repertoire for this recording has been selected from manuscripts and printed books closely associated with players who lived and worked in Thuringia and Saxony. Such sources contain music which would have formed part of the early musical education of many musicians in Central Germany, including Bach and Handel.


The sources directly connected with Bach are a manuscript in the hand of his pupil Heinrich Nikolaus Gerber and two in the hand of his brother, Johann Christoph. The latter two books (the Andreas Bach Book and its companion volume, the Möller Manuscript) contain music by other composers which may well have been heard, played and even copied by the young Bach. Bach’s Toccata BWV 914 (tracks 12) was copied by Gerber and his Fantasia BWV 917 (7) and Prelude BWV 896 (14) are from the Möller Manuscript. For this recording I have chosen the Fischer suite (3-4) and the Marchand prelude (5) from the Andreas Bach Book and the Ritter Allemande (8) from the Möller Manuscript to demonstrate the significance of musical styles from beyond the narrow confines of Thuringia and Saxony. The Fischer and Marchand have been copied from their printed versions and, in the case of the Marchand, with additional performance information: in Johann Christoph’s copy of this piece, bars 46 and 47 are surrounded by a pair of repeat signs not present in the original print. The implied repeat is heard in this performance.


The sources associated with Handel are the Berlin manuscripts of music by J.P. and J. Krieger (edited by Max Seiffert in 1917 and subsequently destroyed in 1945) and Handel’s own printed edition Suites de pieces pour le clavecin (London, 1720). Some of the music on this disc would perhaps have been known by both Bach and Handel: for example, the chorale by Handel’s teacher in Halle, Zachow, which was also preserved in a manuscript in the hand of Bach’s friend and cousin, J. G. Walther; the repertoire, both old and new, found in keyboard books such as the Mylau Tablature Book; and the Neue Clavier-Übung, erster Theil of the Leipzig cantor, Johann Kuhnau, published in 1689.


The Mylau Tablature Book while lacking any demonstrable link with Handel or Bach, is nevertheless an important record of repertoire. It is named after the Saxon town of Mylau which lies about 80 miles South East of Erfurt and Arnstadt and midway between Zwickau and Plauen. The book came to Mylau about 1750 but its contents, over 170 keyboard pieces, are of an earlier date, probably from the late-seventeenth century and predominantly by composers active in Central Germany. It contains separate preludes and fugues arranged in ascending key order from C, and was probably compiled by an organist for personal use in the late 1680s and 1690s. The known composers include Johann Pachelbel (the anonymous fugue in C major (12) has been ascribed to Johann Pachelbel by Shannon on stylistic evidence) and his pupil Nicolaus Vetter, Gottfried Pestel of Altenburg, the North German Andreas Kneller, organ theorist Andreas Werckmeister, C.F. Witt, a pupil of Georg Caspar Wecker (1632–1695; the celebrated Nuremburg organist and teacher of, amongst others, Johann Krieger and Johann Pachelbel), and the Italian, Tarquinio Merula, whose name in the manuscript is corrupted to ‘Claudii de Monteforte’. Merula’s Capriccio Cromatico (13) is a contrapuntal tour de force which the scribe gave up copying half way through, perhaps put off by the technical difficulty of the second half. Fortunately, it survives in a complete version from an earlier source from Lübbenau, 60 miles north of Dresden.


2.3. The composers and their music



Bach and Handel’s early musical education


Chance circumstances altered the course of the early lives of both Bach and Handel. Handel’s desire to pursue music through study and as a livelihood met paternal opposition, although his father’s mind was by others who recognised his son’s talents. Thus, Handel was only allowed to begin his childhood studies with Zachow after the Duke of Saxe-Weißenfels, who had heard him play the organ, persuaded his father to permit such a course. Handel kept one of his early lesson notebooks which he passed on to his assistant John Christopher Smith. However, nothing now survives of this notebook except a useful description in William Coxe’s Anecdotes of George Frederick Handel and John Christopher Smith (London, 1799):


… a book of manuscript music, dated 1698, and inscribed with the initials G. F. H. It was evidently a common-place book belonging to him in the fourteenth year of his age … It contains various airs, choruses, capricios, fugues, and other pieces of music, with the names of the contemporary musicians, such as Zackau, Alberti, Frobergher, Krieger, Kerl, Ebner, Strunch …[1]


As an established composer, fluent in many more styles of composition than just keyboard music, Zachow exerted a huge influence on the young Handel. Bach, on the other hand, was orphaned at the age of nine and appears to have lacked such a powerful compositional model, at least until he became acquainted with Italian instrumental music whilst at Weimer. Bach came from a renowned musical family, but of provincial reputation and outlook. After his father died, the ten-year-old Sebastian moved into his brother’s home in Ohrdruf, where he extended his studies to include illicit copying of Johann Christoph’s music by moonlight—for which he was severely reprimanded. The book is now lost but the story was retold many times and according to C.P.E. Bach it contained music by Kerll and Pachelbel (both teachers of Johann Christoph) and Froberger. From the age of 15, Bach continued his school studies at Lüneburg where he was influenced by the organist Georg Böhm and from where he travelled to hear Reincken in Hamburg. The Möller Manuscript and the Andreas Bach Book are important anthologies for reconstructing the repertoire of Bach’s illegal copying. They were copied by Bach’s brother after Sebastian left for Lüneburg (1704–7 and 1707/8–13, respectively) but presumably from a stock of pieces familiar to Sebastian, since they include some of his own works. Both books include evidence of another important ingredient in Bach’s style, French music, which he later supplemented with Dieupart, D’Anglebert and De Grigny in Weimar. C.P.E. Bach mentions other names amongst the ‘strong fugue writers’ who influenced his father, notably, Frescobaldi, Bruhns and Buxtehude.



Fischer and symbolism


Piet Kee has demonstrated that the ostinato works in the Andreas Bach Book, which includes J.C.F. Fischer’s chaconne (4), are organised using number proportion.[2] The resulting numerical structure, according to Kee, alludes to certain semiotic values: allusions to religious instruction (the Lord’s Prayer or the Ten Commandments), cosmic and temporal events (the cycles of the moon, planets and the seasons, as in Buxtehude’s lost Sieben Planeten keyboard suites), theological concepts (divine creation, the Trinity), and so forth. The 15 statements of Fischer’s chaconne theme, according to Kee, are the 15 ‘mysteries’ of the rosary. Kee’s argument fits the music well. Fischer’s 15 variations on the chaconne divide into 3 blocks of 5 variations each and these, so the argument goes, correspond to the so-called ‘joyful, sorrowful and glorious’ mysteries of the rosary. The minor variations 6–10 represent the ‘sorrowful mysteries’ while the double-bar before the 14th statement ‘marks a major transition; not from major to minor, but from exuberance to simplicity and sweetness, which pervade the last two statements, corresponding to the mysteries of Mary’s assumption and coronation …’. Kee has also found evidence of religious symbolism in the three-part structure of the preceding prelude. J.P. Krieger’s Passaglia (6) is longer than Fischer’s Chaconne and the ground bass is heard 43 times which also invites numerological interpretation. The sum of its digits is 7 (4 + 3 = 7) and 43 is a centred heptagonal number. 7 was a mystical number (the number of known planets, the liberal arts, the day of rest after creation, etc.). 43 is also the smallest prime number expressible as the sum of 2, 3, 4, or 5 different primes and the fourth term of Sylvester's sequence (2, 3, 7, 43).



The forgotten Krieger brothers


For biographical information about the Krieger brothers we must rely on the publications of Mattheson and Walther. Of the same generation as Pachelbel, and also Nuremberg born, Johann Philipp Krieger achieved international standing but virtually none of his music survives, while the music of his younger brother, Johann Krieger, has faired better against the ravages of time.


J.P. Krieger was a prolific composer who wrote over 2000 cantatas and at least 34 operas and singspiels. Sadly, only 3 keyboard compositions now survive although a potential fourth keyboard piece has been recently unearthed. He spent the bulk of his working life (45 years) at the court of Saxe-Wießenfels, where he arranged the performance of compositions by other composers, including J.S. Bach whose Hunting Cantata, BWV 208, was performed there from 1713 onwards. Like Handel, he toured Italy as a young man where he probably studied with Bernardo Pasquini. Further Handelian connections are suggested by the fact that his son, Johann Gotthilf Krieger, studied with Halle composer and teacher of Handel, Zachow, and that Handel’s father was court surgeon at Saxe-Wießenfels. J.P. Krieger’s outstanding Passaglia in D minor (6) gives a clear impression of the scale of his ideas and the accomplishment of his playing. This extended variation set has a 6-note ground bass (heard 43 times in total) and its structure may allude, in the manner of Fischer’s Chaconne (4), to extra-musical symbolism (see above).


The source of J.P. Krieger’s Passaglia is an English manuscript. The book, now part of the Wagener collection in Brussels, is beautifully copied by an unknown hand and also contains music by John Blow, Henry Purcell and Jeremiah Clarke, Johann Kasper Kerll and Johann Kortkamp. The manuscript is dated 1687 but was copied in the 1700s. Its survival is in stark contrast to the 1676 Pirnitz manuscript which Max Seiffert used for his 1917 edition of the Passaglia but which was destroyed in 1945. The presence of the Passaglia in an English source suggests a wider dissemination of Central German keyboard music than might be expected.


J. Krieger was not a cosmopolitan figure like his brother and appears not to have travelled beyond the confines of Central Germany and Zittau (just 50 miles east of Dresden) where he was a church musician for 54 years. However, he published two books of keyboard pieces (1697 and 1698) and Handel is known to have taken a copy of the 1698 print with him to London. The density and technical demands of the keyboard writing in his published suites must have influenced Handel’s own. Handel frequently borrowed Krieger’s musical ideas for his own pieces (e.g. one of Krieger’s toccatas is quoted in Handel’s 1739 Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline, HWV 264). Krieger was well known (and widely acknowledged) as a skilful writer of counterpoint and his fellow countryman, J.S. Bach, may have had his fugue on four subjects in mind when he began his incomplete final fugue for The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080.


Krieger’s In dich hab ich gehoffet Herr (8) is a short set of variations taken from a holograph manuscript dated ‘Zittau, 21. Januar 1697’ and, fortunately, edited by Max Seiffert in 1917 before it was destroyed in 1945. The first variation sets the chorale melody in the soprano, the second in the bass part (see the fourth variation of the Zachow chorale variations, 15), the third and last variation, back in the soprano but in gigue rhythm and interspersed with free and at times, waywardly chromatic, contrapuntal interjections. The same chorale melody was also set for organ by Tunder and J. C. Bach (1642-1703) and was used by J.S. Bach in cantatas 52 and 106, and in the Matthew Passion. A similar chorale variation by J. Krieger, Herr Christ der Einig gottes Sohn, is preserved in important manuscript in new German organ tablature, the Eckelt book, which preserves more music from Erfurt circle of Pachelbel and his pupils.

The book was thought to have been lost in 1945 but it has subsequently come to light in Crakow in Poland. While many of the sources for the Krieger brothers’ music have been lost, three works attributed to them are found in the Eckelt book. In addition to publishing two organ treatises (1702, both lost), Eckelt bought the right to copy his teacher’s music. His book is further evidence of copying and dissemination of Central German repertory during Handel and Bach’s youth. 



Patronage and death


Christian Ritter was organist in Halle during the 1660s and worked for the Swedish royal court and the Hofkapelle in Dresden. His exact title at the Swedish court caused some controversy in his later life. The lexicographer and composoer, Johann Mattheson, described him as ‘acting Kapellmeister’ while Ritter himself used the word ‘emeritus’. Ritter’s Allemande (9) is a memorial to his patron, King Charles XI of Sweden, who died of stomach cancer on 5 April 1697, in his forty-first year. This deeply felt music stands in the tradition of similar pieces by Froberger who learnt the art from the French lutenists and harpsichordists and imported its values to German-speaking culture.



Will the ‘real’ Johann Christoph Bach kindly stand up?


The fine Prelude and Fugue in E-flat major BWV Anh. 177 (1011) is ascribed in one source to ‘Joh.: Christop. Bachio Org. Isennaci’ but to which Johann Christoph Bach refers remains unclear. Of the many composers recorded with these forenames in the Bach genealogy, Johann Christoph Bach (13)[3] (1642–1703) who was considered the most important Bach family member before J.S. Bach, has been assumed to be the most likely contender. His 22-part motet, for example, Es erhub sich ein Streit, was praised by both J.S. and C.P.E. Bach as a model of its type. According to Johann Sebastian’s obituary notice (1754) Johann Christoph ‘was as good at inventing beautiful thoughts as he was at expressing words. He composed … uncommonly full-textured … [and] on the organ and the keyboard never played with fewer than five independent parts’. He was a colleague of Johann Pachelbel (possibly the composer of 12) in Eisenach and, from the 1660s until his death, organist at the Georgenkirche and court harpsichordist. He may be the composer of the Prelude and Fugue in E-flat major BWV Anh. 177, however, he is not the only Johann Christoph Bach in the genealogy, nor the only candidate.


At least two further contenders must be considered. The first is Johann Sebastian’s elder brother, Johann Christoph Bach (22) (1671–1721). Although he is not otherwise known as a composer, he was a pupil of Johann Pachelbel, organist in Erfurt, Arnstadt, Ohrdruf and Gotha, and an industrious copyist. He compiled the Andreas Bach Book and the Möller Manuscript, both important sources of J.S. Bach’s early works and organ music current in Thuringia around 1700, although neither includes this piece. Another candidate is Johann Christoph Bach (17) (1673–1727), organist near Wiemar, and in Erfurt and Gehren, and compiler of another important source of 17th-century music, a manuscript now belonging to Yale University which includes compositions by Johann Pachelbel and J.C.F. Fischer.[4]



Handel and his blacksmith


Handel’s Suite in E major (1720) existed in several early versions (one of which is in a different key) prior to its final, revised form published in 1720. These early versions may stem back as far as Handel’s youth in Germany. From about the age of nine, he was taught keyboard playing and composition by the famous organist of the Liebfrauenkirche in Halle, Friedrich Zachow. Judging from the surviving music, Handel was little influenced by French suites, favouring a rich and solidly textured keyboard style akin to many Central German composers. Antecedents for this style can found in the suites of J. Krieger’s printed keyboard music which Handel owned and brought with him to London. The Suite in E major concludes with an air and variations (20). The melody of this air has been associated, by later generations, with a whistling blacksmith supposedly heard by Handel near the church yard of St Lawrence, Stanmore when sheltering in a storm. As the work probably predates his London years, the story (sadly) can’t be true but something of the heat and noise of the forge does pervade the ringing sonorities of the later variations—a suggestion perhaps of Georg Muffat’s allusion to hammering in his Nova Cyclopeias Harmonica—and, in the closing variation, reflecting Handel’s fondness for bell chimes, clocks and carillons in his other music.



3. The instrument


3.1 The instrument and its relationship to Bach, Handel and their contemporaries


Extant German harpsichords from the Baroque period are scarce and those for which a connection to J.S. Bach or Handel can reasonably be asserted are fewer still.


The young Bach in Eisenach or Ohrdruf and Handel in Halle would have encountered locally made harpsichords and these were very likely of the Bachhaus Thuringian type. The instruments of their later years however were very different. Handel first moved away from Germany in 1706 and, being widely travelled, would have known all the international styles of harpsichord making, particularly the German, Italian and Flemish schools. He owned several instruments including one by Ruckers when he was in London. Bach left many instruments on his death, including eight harpsichords, two lute-harpsichords and a spinet. He also used clavichord and fortepiano and was frequently required to repair harpsichords. He was involved in the procurement of a magnificent Berlin harpsichord for the Cöthen court in 1717. He knew many harpsichord makers during his working life and although his preferences are not known, an impression of what was available can be built up from surviving instruments.


In modern times, these surviving instruments are referred to generically as ‘German’ harpsichords, although as a group they show great dissimilarity in sound, construction and musical aesthetic and can only be said to constitute a single type in very general terms. The majority of these instruments stem from workshops outside the somewhat limited geographical area of Thuringia and Saxony where Bach and Handel were born and where Bach spent his working life. In practice, modern players and builders have tended to narrow the field of choice down to less than a handful of models. The three surviving instruments of Berlin maker, Michael Mietke, have commanded greatest attention in recent years and copies of these, along with instruments by Hass, Fleischer and Zell (Hamburg) and, less frequently, Vater (Hannover) and Gräbner (Dresden), have featured in concerts and recordings.


The 1715 anonymous single-manual harpsichord in the Bachhaus, Eisenach has received only scant attention. This is surprising given that it is a unique example of the Thuringian harpsichord that J.S. Bach and Handel would have probably known. In terms of design, it is very different from nearly all other eighteenth-century harpsichords, irrespective of national type.  Its main distinguishing feature is the continuation of the soundboard over the wrest plank: a practice which can be traced back to the sixteenth-century and which was still regarded as a normal method of construction by eighteenth-century commentators such as Jakob Adlung (Musica mechanica organoedi, published posthumously in 1768 but written between 1723 and 1727 in Erfurt; Book II, p. 104). J.S. Bach’s second cousin, Johann Nicholaus Bach (1669–1753), himself a maker of stringed keyboard instruments in Jena, knew Adlung, and Johann Ernst Bach, a second cousin once removed and pupil of J.S. Bach, provided the preface to Adlung’s Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit (Erfurt, 1758).[5] All-in-all, the circumstantial evidence for a Bach and Handel connection to this type of harpsichord is reasonably strong.



As a result of its construction, the Bachhaus harpsichord is fundamentally different in sound and touch from the typical eighteenth-century harpsichords of the German, Franco-Flemish or ‘International’ schools which have previously been heard in Bach harpsichord performance. Its date, 1715, places the instrument between Bach’s earliest dated keyboard works and his mature keyboard collections compiled before his departure to Cöthen in 1723, although its design is much earlier.


While most surviving German harpsichords were built in workshops geographically far removed from the day-to-day experience of most Saxon musicians, the Bachhaus harpsichord is a rare example of local Thuringian craftsmanship. Its maker was clearly an experienced master of his craft. The workmanship is of a high level, perhaps the work of an organ builder, and shows complete fluency within its inherited tradition (as it were, ‘the local vernacular’) and with very few apparent external influences (such as decorative pretensions or design innovations).   


Its unique construction qualities and remarkably close provenance to the Bach circle make this harpsichord a critically important sound resource with which to explore German music of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries. David Evans has recently completed a very successful copy of this instrument (2010) and we are very fortunate to have secured its use for this recording.



[1] Hill (1985), 167.

[2] Kee (1988), especially pages 15–18 and 29–31. 

[3] The numbers in parenthesis after the names correspond to the numbers given to members of the family in the genealogy drawn up by J.S. Bach in 1735, the Ursprung der musicalisch-Bachischen Familie. See Christoph Wolff, et al. "Bach." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40023pg1>.

[4] US-NH LM 4983.

[5] Koster (1999), pp. 57–59 and Koster (1998)






Illustration: Anonymous Thuringian Harpsichord, c.1715, Bachhaus, Frauenplan 21, Eisenach, Germany. www.bachhaus.de



3.2 The design and sound qualities of the reconstructed harpsichord


Although built in the early-eighteenth century, the anonymous Thuringian harpsichord is the only surviving example of a very particular type of early German harpsichord. Its relatively late date (1715) suggest a conservative maker relying on a local and time-honoured design similar to much earlier instruments, such as the Hans Müller, Leipzig, 1537. Most importantly for the sound, the soundboard continues in front of the jack rail over the wrest plank resulting in an extra resonating area, which enlivens and enriches the already complex resonance. The soundboard barring is likewise unconventional and the soundboard is supported by the strings which are double-pinned at the bridge. Indeed, it may be a basic and typical design for the period and region, for example, of the lost harpsichords built by organ builders known to Bach such as Gottfried Silbermann and Zacharias Hildebrandt and the fact that no other examples survive lends extra significance to the original and this copy.


The Evans reconstruction is a faithful copy. Its touch and response are distinctive and a direct result of the design features of the original. The jacks are positioned slightly further away from the player and the plectra pluck closer to the middle of the string than is usual in a typical Northern European design. Combined with the deeper, extra resonating area over the wrest plank, they require longer keys to operate them. The resulting sound, which approaches a virginals in the bass, is perhaps closer to that of early Flemish/English instruments, such as the 1579 Theewys. The instrument has two sets of strings for each key, both at 8-foot (i.e. unison) pitch. The distinction between each set of strings alone is less pronounced, however, as the jacks are closer to the middle of the string and the plucking points of each register are relatively close to each other. All these factors taken together produce a unique tone quality which is well differentiated between high and low registers, and remarkably full in resonance and timbral complexity. The combined 8-foot choruses (the tutti) is much louder than the sound of the individual registers might suggest, and in general the sound is large, free and open. There is a pronounced attack on the initiation of the note and a very long decay time on each string well suited to cantabile playing. The additional resonating area over the wrest plank appears to ‘amplify’ the sound of the main soundboard. This effect can be very startling in large chords and vigorous arpeggiation (in which this recording abounds) and can result in distortion or ‘feed-back’ between the two resonating areas: an effect more familiar through electronic amplification at a rock concert!



3.3 Technical specification and illustrations


Original instrument: Anonymous Thuringian Harpsichord, c.1715 (presently housed in the Eisenach Bachhaus, Eisenach, Germany).

Dated: 1715.

Compass: BB, C-c''' chromatic.

Original instrument has a three-way transposing facility. The keyboard slides sideways under the wrest plank and jacks to give a total of three pitch positions: low-, middle- and high-pitch.

Scale: The short scale in iron gives a high pitch (chorton, a' =465Hz) or at low tension (a' =440Hz). In brass at normal tension, a' =415 Hz or possibly 440Hz. All evidence seems to indicate an iron scale with the three available shifts and the associated pitches (brass basses from BB-c). This is also the conclusion of the recent Bachhaus restoration by Wolfgang Wenke. The iron scale accords well with seventeenth-century scales in some other non-Italian instruments. Brass throughout would give a c'' of 290 mm, about the right length for 415 in the top position, if a little taut; this seems unlikely. The three harpsichords built by Mietke between 1703 and 1710 have a brass scale of 270 mm and iron scale of 342 mm, suggesting a pitch around a' =440 Hz . This translates to the middle position of the Eisenach Thuringian (a' =440 Hz) with a' =415 and 465 Hz available by shifting the transposing keyboard. The design includes two extra pairs of strings so all notes are available at all three pitches.[1]


Copy by David Evans, Henley-on-Thames, completed in 2010.  Wolfgang Wenke, Restaurator in Eisenach, restored the original instrument in 1975. David Evans would like to acknowledge the immense help he received from Herr Wenke during the making of his reconstruction.



Recording details


Recording engineer and producer: Matt Parkin

Recorded in the Royal College of Music Studios, London, 28th and 29th August, 2013.





Pitch: a' =440Hz


Temperament: Modified 1/5th comma meantone


TO = Temperament Ordinaire (Bavington)

3–6, 8, 12–15

HT = Hamburg Temperament (Drake)


7, 9–11

§ = TO with D# and A# lowered


† = § with C and F lowered



Cent deviation values (approx.) for use with a Tuning machine;  










































Sources and editions





MS in the hand of Heinrich Nikolaus Gerber (Private collection of Wolfgang Wiemer). Neue Bach-Ausgabe (NBA) V/9.1, p. 78 (Peter Wollny, 1999) Critical report (1999), p. 84.


Andreas Bach Buch (D-LEm Sammlung Becker III.6.4), no. 47, f. 101v (p214) from Les pièces de clavessin, op.2, Schlackenwerth, 1696 and as Musicalisches Blumen-Büschlein, 1698. Johann Kaspar Ferdinand Fischer: Sämtliche Werke für Klavier und Orgel, ed.Ernst von Werra (Breitkopf & Härtel: Wiesbaden, 1901).


From Suite in D minor (ABB, no.39). Pièces de clavecin, livres 1 (Paris, 1702), p. 1–2. Pieces de Clavecin de Louis Marchand. Thurston dart (ed.) (Editions de L'Oiseau-Lyre: Monaco, 1960).


Berlin, Bibliothek der Hochschule für Musikerziehung und Kirchenmusik, Ms. H 5270. lost 1945 (Pirnitz, 1676), p. 45b [f. 45v?] but preserved in Johann Krieger, Franz Xaver Anton Murschhauser und Johann Philipp Krieger, Gesammelte Werke für Klavier und Orgel, Max Seiffert (ed). Band 30, Jahrgang XVIII, (Leipzig, 1917), p.178–182 and Brussels, Royal Conservatoire, Ms. 15.139 (Wagener), p. 27–39,. Johann Philipp Krieger (1649–1725) and Johann Krieger (1651–1735) Complete Organ and Keyboard Works, S. Rampe, H. Lerch (eds.), Volume 2: J. Krieger and J.P. Krieger: Works from Copied Sources of Uncertain Authenticity with Appendices (Barenrieter), no. 1.


Möller Manuscript (D-Bsb Mus. ms. 40644), no. 52, f. 96v. NBA, 'duobius subjectis'. NBA V/9.2, p. 14 and p. 16 (Uwe Wolf, 2000) Critical report (2000), p. 39.


Bibliothek der Hochschule für Musikerziehung und Kirchenmusik Berlin, Ms. H 5741, lost 1945 (Manuscript dated ‘Zittau, 21. Januar 1697) but preserved in Johann Krieger, Franz Xaver Anton Murschhauser und Johann Philipp Krieger, Gesammelte Werke für Klavier und Orgel, Max Seiffert (ed). Band 30, Jahrgang XVIII, (Leipzig, 1917), p. 210–212. Johann Philipp Krieger (1649–1725) and Johann Krieger (1651–1735) Complete Organ and Keyboard Works, S. Rampe, H. Lerch (eds.), Volume 2: J. Krieger and J.P. Krieger: Works from Copied Sources of Uncertain Authenticity with Appendices (Barenrieter), no. 51.


Möller Manuscript, no. 10, f. 21v. Keyboard Music from the Andreas bach Book and the Möller Manuscript, Edited Robert Hill (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachussetts and London, 1991).


Leipzig, Stadtbibliothek Leipzig, Musikbibliothek, D-LEm III 8.5. first half of the 18th century (ca. 1720–1739). title-heading: "Praeludium. Ex dis. [natural sign]. Signori Joh.: Christoph. Bachio Org: Isennaci". Also contains: P. Hasse: Praeludium in D; Anon.: Fuge in A (unvollständig); Anon.: "Fuga Anno 1719"; G. W. D. Saxer: Sonatina; F. W. Zachow: Fuge in G; J. C. Kerll: "Capriccio sopra il cucu". NBA V/12, S. 134 (Ulrich Bartels und Frieder Rempp, 2006). Critical report (2006), p. 142.


Mylau Tablature Book (D-MY, Kirchenbibliothek, MS H 3a)


Mylau Tablature Book (D-MY, Kirchenbibliothek, MS H 3a) and Berlin, Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Lynar A2 (c1640) (D-B, Mus. Ms. Lübbenau Lynar A 2), ff. 13v-14. The Mylau Tabulaturbuch: Forty Selected Compositions. Edited by John R. Shannon, Corpus of Early Keyboard Music 39 (American Institute of Musicology ; Neuhausen-Stuttgart : Hanssler-Verlag, 1977) and Tarquinio Merula: Composizione per Organo e Cembalo, Alan Curtis (ed.) L'organo Brescia/Barenrieter Kassel, 1961, no. 2, pp. 8–11.


Möller MS, no. 34, f. 62v. NBA V/9.2, S. 72 (Uwe Wolf, 2000) Critical report (2000), p. 110.


D-B Mus. ms. 22541/II (Organ music in the hand of J. G. Walther). F.W. Zachow: Gesammelte Werke, ed. M. Seiffert, DDT, xxi–xxii (1905/R).


From Partie no. 5 (Neue Clavier-Übung, erster Theil, Leipzig, 1689). Johann Kuhnaus Klavierwerke, ed. Moser, DDT, iv (1901/R)


Suites de pieces pour le clavecin, London, 1720. NHA. Keyboard Works I

First Set of 1720. The Eight Great Suites HWV 426–433. Ed. R. Steglich, T. Best.  BA 4224





Jacob Adlung, Musica mechanica organoedi (Berlin, 1768). English translation in Quentin Faulkner, Musical Mechanics for the Organist by Jacob Adlung, edited for publication by Johann Lorenz Albrecht with commentary by Johann Friedrich Agricola, English translation by Quentin Faulkner (Zea E-Books: Lincoln, Nebraska, 2011).


Herbert Heyde, Historische Musikinstrumente im Bachhaus Eisenach (Eisenach: Herausgegeben vom Bachhaus Eisenach, 1976).


Robert Hill, ‘“Der Himmel weiss, wo diese Sachen hingekommen sind”: Reconstructing the Lost Keyboard Notebooks of the Young Bach and Handel’, Bach, Handel, Scarlatti: Tercentenary Essays, ed. Peter Williams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 161–72.


Peter Holman, ‘A New Source of Restoration Keyboard Music’, RMARC, 20 (1986-7), pp. 53–7.


Frank Hubbard, Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1978).


Piet Kee, Number and Symbolism in the Passacaglia and Ciaconna, Loosemore Occasional Papers, no. 2 (Buckfastleigh: The John Loosemore Association, 1988).


John Koster, ‘The Scaling and Pitch of Stringed-Keyboard Instruments in J. S. Bach’s Environs’, American Bach Society Meeting, 1998.


John Koster, ‘The Harpsichord Culture in Bach’s environs’, Bach Perspectives: The Music of J.S. Bach—Analysis and Interpretation, vol. 4. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), pp. 57–59.


Edward Kottick, A History of the Harpsichord (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2003).


Daniel R. Melamed, ‘Constructing Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703)’, Music & Letters, Vol. 80, No. 3 (Aug., 1999), pp. 345–365.


John Henry van der Meer, ‘A Little-Known German Harpsichord’, Early Keyboard Studies Newsletter (Westfield Center, Easthampton, MA), Vol. V, No. 3 (March



Max Seiffert, ‘Das Mylauer Tabulaturbuch von 1750’, Archiv fur Musikwissenschaft, i (1918-19), pp. 607-32.


Kathryn Welter, ‘A Master Teacher Revealed: Johann Pachelbel’s Deutliche Anweisung’, About Bach, ed. Butler, Stauffer and Greer, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008), pp. 3–13.


[1] David Evans, private correspondence, 30th August 2011.




Illustration: Reconstruction of the anonymous Thuringian harpsichord, c.1715 (Bachhaus, Eisenach) made by David Evans (Henley-on-Thames, 2010).


4.4 Biographies


David Evans is a highly regarded English harpsichord maker, with over 40 years of experience studying and copying historical plucked keyboard instruments. He first heard a harpsichord as a schoolboy in the 1940s and has been addicted to the instrument and its music ever since. He grew up amongst craftsmen in rural Northumberland and, having a natural leaning towards making things, inevitably gravitated towards harpsichord building. After many years as an amateur, he opened his workshop in Henley-on-Thames nearly 30 years ago, where he copies specific instruments for particular players. He acknowledges with gratitude the many makers, players and technicians who have helped him on his way. Recent commissions have included copies of a virginals by Grouwels, the Royal College of Music’s Clavicytherium, c. 1480 (RCM 1) and harpsichords by Thibaut, Giusti, the Royal College of Music’s Anon. Italian c. 1610 (RCM 175) and the anonymous French dated 1667 now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA.



Terence Charlston considers himself fortunate to have developed a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, director, teacher and academic researcher. Born in Blackpool, Lancashire, he was drawn to the sound and repertoire of old instruments, especially the harpsichord, from an early age. He took degrees in Oxford and London in organ, harpsichord and musicology. As a harpsichord and organ soloist, he has toured worldwide. His repertoire spans the 16th century to the present day, reflecting a passionate interest in keyboard music of all types and styles. He can be heard on nearly 100 commercial CDs playing harpsichord, organ, virginals, clavichord and fortepiano. He was a member of London Baroque from 1995 until 2007 and is a core member of the ensemble Florilegium. Terence is an important advocate of early keyboard instruments within the educational sphere and is privileged to have been given a significant role in the training of younger players. He founded the Department of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music in 1995. In September 2007 he was invited to join the staff of the Royal College of Music, London, as professor of harpsichord and is International Visiting Tutor in harpsichord at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. www.charlston.co.uk



[1] Hill (1985), 167.

[2] Kee (1988), especially pages 15–18 and 29–31. 

[3] The numbers in parenthesis after the names correspond to the numbers given to members of the family in the genealogy drawn up by J.S. Bach in 1735, the Ursprung der musicalisch-Bachischen Familie. See Christoph Wolff, et al. "Bach." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40023pg1>.

[4] US-NH LM 4983.

[5] Koster (1999), pp. 57–59 and Koster (1998)

[6] David Evans, private correspondence, 30th August 2011.