|Home||Collections||Calendar||Gift Shop||FAQ||Site Index||Maker Index|
Images from the Concert Hall
Harpsichord by José Calisto, Portugal, 1780
NMM 6204. Harpsichord by José Calisto, Portugal, 1780. Single manual, GG-g3 (5 octaves); 2 x 8'; buff. Ex coll.: Wolfgang Ruf, Emmetten, Switzerland. Rawlins fund, 1999.
The robust case, made mainly of spruce, is painted dark green on the exterior and veneered with Brazilian tulipwood on the interior. The original music desk is mostly of rosewood (palisander), as are the moldings and blocks around the keyboard. The instrument rests on typically Portuguese trestles with cutouts in the shape of upside-down hearts.
Detail of Boxwood and Ebony-Covered Keys
Disposition and Measurements
The instrument is scaled (c2 being 256 mm long) for brass strings with the speaking lengths doubling at each lower octave throughout most of the compass. This accounts for the imposing size of the harpsichord, which is 2516 mm long, almost the length of a modern concert grand piano. The tone is full and rich, with a particularly majestic bass. Although the string scaling is similar to that of harpsichords and pianos made in Florence by Bartolomeo Cristofori, which were certainly known in Portugal, the overall construction of the Calisto instrument and most details of its action and soundboard layout are closer to those of northern-European harpsichords.
8' String Lengths and Plucking Points
Plan view and X-Ray
Literature: Donald H. Boalch, Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440-1840. Third edition, edited by Charles Mould (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), pp. 263-264.
Anne Robert, Carlos Seixas, Sonates pour Clavecin (Vol. II) (France: Optical Disc de France, 1997). CD.
John Koster, "A Rare Portugese Harpsichord by José Calisto, 1780," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter 26, No. 3 (August 1999), pp. 4-5.
John Koster, "Towards an Optimal Instrument: Domenico Scarlatti and the New Wave of Iberian Harpsichord Making," Early Music 35, No. 4 (November 2007), pp. 575-604.
John Koster, "Traditional Iberian Harpsichord Making in its European Context," Galpin Society Journal 61 (2008), pp. 8, 9, 13, 62.
John Koster, "Domenico Scarlatti and the Transformation of Iberian Harpsichord Making," in Domenico Scarlatti en España / Domenico Scarlatti in Spain, Luisa Morales, ed. (Garrucha, Almería, Spain: Asociación Cultural LEAL, 2009), pp. 187-208 (especially pp. 200, and 204-206 and figs. 1b, 3c, 11, 12, and 14).
John Koster, "Scarlatti and His Keyboards," Early Music 37, No. 2 (May 2009), pp. 345-346.
Ronald Broude, "Playing On Originals: The Material Presence of the Past," Early Music America 15, No. 4 (Winter 2009): 35.
Susanne Skyrm, ed., with assistance from Calvert Johnston and John Koster, Anthology of Eighteenth-Century Spanish Keyboard Music for Organ, Piano, Harpsichord, or Clavichord (Colfax, North Carolina: Wayne Leupold Editions, 2010), p. x.
The University of South Dakota
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069