Description of a course offered
at Mather House
Harvard University, Spring, 1976
THE HARPSICHORD: ITS ROLE IN MUSIC, SOCIETY, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY
AND THE DECORATIVE ARTS
[This was a course planned by Frank Hubbard to combine
in-depth knowledge of the harpsichord with hands-on building of an instrument. As the
course was planned, John Koster would direct students in the construction of a harpsichord
in the workshop. On the knowledge side of things, participating faculty included Professor
Erwin Hiebert, Department of History Science, as head of the course, Dr. Elfrieda Hiebert,
musicologist, John Gibbons, performer, Sheridan Germann, artist, and, of course, Frank
Hubbard would lecture and work in the workshop with students. However, Hubbard died on
February 26, 1976, before the course began. It is my understanding from John Koster that
the course was held and an instrument was built by the class. I've gone to some length to
include this text because some people might wonder what it would have been like to take a
course with Frank Hubbard. I think all would agree that it would have been a strenuous and
probably unique intellectual experience. As noted elsewhere, Hubbard was dissatisfied with
the American educational system. This course outline perhaps typifies the intensity level
of reading that he preferred. From this outline, one can get an idea where Hubbard was
heading and what his contributions to the field might have been had he lived to develop
these ideas further. The material was taken from a draft prepared by Frank Hubbard.
Unfortunately, some of the references are incomplete. Appropriate scholarship can make
them whole again. Edited by B.J.Fine]
It is proposed to orient a general historical study around
the examination of certain artifacts - in this case, harpsichords. The role of the
instrument in music, society, science, economy, and the decorative arts will be
It is also intended that the students assemble a
harpsichord kit, gaining in the process an intimate acquaintance with the mechanism and
structure of a French 18th century harpsichord and more than incidentally supplying Mather
House with a two-manual harpsichord usable for concerts and individual practice.
This unusual format can be meaningful to students
concentrating in various fields. They will attend a series of thirteen lecture discussions
in which the harpsichord will be taken as a constant point of reference and departure.
General topics to be considered will include the harpsichord as a musical entity, the
harpsichord as both a stimulus to scientific research and as the beneficiary of efforts of
scientists to methodize contemporary technology, the harpsichord as an ingredient in the
social life and the economy of earlier centuries, and the harpsichord as a typical
expression of the skill, inspiration and methods of the decorative artists of the time.
A. Music and the Harpsichord
Session #1 - Keyboard Instruments, 1500-1800 -
Orientation and Historical Perspective
R. Russell - The Harpsichord and the Clavichord,
London, 1959. pertinent articles in Grove
F. Hubbard - Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making,
R. Harding - The Piano-Forte, New York, 1973.
Sessions #2 & #3 - Harpsichord Music
Brief survey of historical evolution of the Renaissance,
Baroque & Classical styles.
Development of keyboard music in the Renaissance (to
Development of keyboard music in the Baroque (to 1760)
Keyboard music in the Classical period (to 1800)
Role of the harpsichord in ensemble and orchestral music
Apel, Willi, The History of Keyboard Music to 1700.
Trans. by Hans Tischler. Bloomington, 1972.
Gillespie, John,Five Centuries of Keyboard Music.
Kenyon, M., Harpsichord Music. Cassel, 1949.
Mathews, Denis, Ed. Keyboard Music. Penguin Books,
Additional selected studies
Borren, Charles van den. The Sources of Keyboard Music
in England. London, 1913.
Caldwell, Joh.,English Keyboard Music before the 19th
Century. Oxford, 1973.
Seiffert, Max., Geschichte der Klaviermusik
Alker, Hugo, Literatur für alte Tasteninstruments.
Versuch einer Bibliographie für die Parxis, Vienna, 1967.
Bedbrook, Gerald Stares, Keyboard Music from the
Middle Ages to the Beginnings of the Baroque. London, 1949.
Session #4 - Possibly a lecture-demonstration by John
Session # 5 - The influence of Musical Writers on the
Composition and Performance of Music.
Donington, Robert, The Interpretation of Early Music.
London, 1975 (3rd Edition).
Donington, Robert, A Performer's Guide to Baroque
Music. London, 1973.
Ferguson, Howard, Keyboard Interpretation from the
14th to the 19th Century. Oxford Univ. Press, 1975.
Arnold, Frank Thomas, The Art of Accompaniment from a
Thorough-Bass as Practiced in the 17th & 18th Centuries. New York, 1965.
Keller, Hermann, Phrasing and Articulation. New
Couperin, Francois, L'Art de Toucher le Clavecin.
Bach, C. P. E. , Versuch über die wahre Art das
Clavier zu spielen. Berlin, 1753.
Schott, Howard, Playing the Harpsichord. London,
Additional Selected Studies
Harich-Schneider, Eta. The Harpsichord, An
introduction to Technique, Style and the Historical Sources. 2nd Ed. Kassel, 1973.
Nuri, Ruth, A Plain and Easy Introduction to the
Harpsichord. Albuquerque, 1974.
Marpurg, Friedrich Wilhelm, Die Kunst das Clavier zu
spielen. Berlin, 1750, 1761. New edition, Hildesheim, 1969.
Gasparini, Francesco, L'Armonico prativo al Cimbalo.
B. Science and the Harpsichord
Session # 6 - Basic Notions on the Mathematics,
Physics, Physiology, and Psychology of Vibrating Strings.
Backus, John, The Acoustical Foundations of Music.
New York, 1969.
Benade, Arthur H.Horns, Strings and Harmony.
Doubleday PB, 1960.
Roederer, Juan G.,Introduction to the Physics and
Psychophysics of Music. London, 1973.
Taylor, C. A., The Physics of Music Sounds. New
Session # 7 - Historical Investigation of the Stimulus
to the Physical and Mathematical Analysis of Vibrating Strings as Provided by Music Theory
and Instrument Making Practice.
Drake, Stillman, Renaissance Music and Experimental
Science. Journal of the History of Ideas, 1970, 31, 483-500.
Drake, Stillman, Vinceuzio and Galileo Galile.
Galileo Studies, Ann Arbor, 1970.
Helmholtz, Hermann, On the Sensations of Tone as a
Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music. Heidelberg, 1863.
Lindsay, R. Bruce (Ed.)Acoustics: Historical and
Philosophical Development. Stroudsburg, PA, 1974. Notably primary papers in English
translation from Galileo (1638) to Ohm (1843).
Palisca, Claude, V., Scientific Empiricism in Musical
Thought. in Hedley H. Rhys (Ed.) Seventeenth Century Science and the Arts.
Truedell, Clifford A. The Rational Mechanics of
Flexible and Elastic Bodies, 1638-1788. in Leonhardi Euler: Opera Omnia II, vols. 10
& 11, Zurich, 1960.
Session #8 - The Application of Scientific Principles
to the Craft (technology) of Harpsichord Construction.
Cole, A.H. & Walts, G.B., The Handicrafts of
France as Recorded in the Description des Arts et. Métiers, 1761-1788. Harvard, 1952.
Gillispie, C.,C. Introduction to a Diderot Pictorial
Encyclopedia. New York, 1959; and selected graphics on the harpsichord from the
Hubbard, Frank,Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making.
Appendices A through F. Sachs, Curt, Real-Lexikon des Musik-Instruments. 2nd ed.,
New York, 1964.
Schaeffner, André, Origine des instruments de musique.
Paris, 1936. Especially for its bibliography.
Engelmann, Wilhelm, Bibliotheca Mechanico -
Technologica ... über alle Theile der mechanischen and technischen Kunste und Gewerbe.
C. The Harpsichord in Economic and Social History
Session #9 - Attitudes, Work Habits and Living
Standards of Artisans
Hardouin, P.J. Harpsichord Making in Paris, Galpin
society Journal, X, XII, XIII.
Diderot, preface to Encyclopédie (excerpts).
Savary de Bruslons, Dictionnaire universelle de
Lespinasse, R., Les Métiers et corporations de la
ville de Paris du 14ième au 18ième siecle, 1886-1897.
Sceaury, Paul Loubet de, Musiciens et facteurs de
musique, statuts corporatifs, 1949.
Hubbard, F., Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making,
Harvard, 1965, excerpts.
Dale, W., Tschudi the Harpsichord Maker, 1913.
Session #10 - The Techniques of Harpsichord Making with
Special Reference to Harpsichord Making as a "Technologically Intensive"
Hubbard, F. Three Centuries of Harpsichord MakingI.,
Harvard, 1965, "Workshop".
Gillespie, C.C., Ed., "Pin Factory," A
Diderot Pictorial Encyclopedia, Dover, 1959
Savary de Bruslons, Dictionnaire universelle de
commerce, 1741, "Fil de fer," "Fil d'archal."
Ray, A Collection of English Words Not Generally Used,
1674, "The Manner of Wire Work At Tintern in Monmouthshire." in Hubbard, p. 282.
Session #11 - The Harpsichord in the Economy
Session #12 -The Role of Music and the Harpsichord in
Burney, Charles, The Present State of Music in France
and Italy. London, 1771. (London, 1959).
Burney, Charles, The Present State of Music in
Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. London, 1775 (London, 1959).
Loesser, Arthur, Men, Women and Pianos, a Social
History. New York, 1954.
Rayner, Henry, A Social History of Music from the
Middle Ages to Beethoven. New York, 1972.
Excerpts from William Newman's volumes on the history of
the sonata in the Baroque and Classic periods. Chapters include "The Instruments and
Settings," "The Uses of the Sonata" (church and court, etc.), "The
Spread of the Baroque Sonata" in The Sonata in the Baroque Era. Chapel Hill,
1959. The harpsichord is important in the discussions in this volume as well as below.
"The Sonata in Classic Society," "The
Spread of the Classic Sonata," "Instruments and Setting," in The Sonata
in the Classic Era. Chapel Hill, 1963.
Bukofzer, Manfred, "Sociology in the Baroque."
In Music in the Baroque Era. London, 1948.
Graf, Max, Composer and Critic, 1947.
Reichardt, J.F., Vertraute Briefe . . . 1808-1809.
Hanslick, Eduard, Geschichte des Concertwesens in Wien.
Special Selected Readings:
Helm, Ernest Eugene,Music at the Court of Frederick
the Great. Norman, 1960.
Yorke-Long, Alan, Music at Cour. Four eighteenth
century studies. London, 1954.
Preussner, Eberhard, Die bürgerliche Musikkultur, ein
Beitrag zur deutschen Musikgeschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts. Kassel, 1950.
D. The Harpsichord as an Object d'Art
Session #13 - Slide Show by Sheridan Germann
Philip James, Early Keyboard Instruments, London,
Various illustrated catalogues
Readings as specified by Mrs. Germann