Department of Music

Back Page

The Pre-Classical Piano: Expressive Claviers and Their Repertoire in the 18th Century
Vermillion, SD, May 2000


	(Conference website:

	America's Shrine to Music Museum at the University of South Dakota
in Vermillion will host an international conference to explore the musical
and cultural context of the invention and early development of the piano,
"The Pre-Classical Piano:  Expressive Claviers and Their Repertoire in the
18th Century," May 5-8, 2000. 
  	The conference, which will bring together leading scholars in the field
to share their latest research with others who have a deep interest in the
history of the early piano and the cultural milieu of which it was a part,
will be held in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, the
Schubert Club (St. Paul), and the Westfield Center for Early Keyboard
Studies.  In order to stimulate discussion, the conference will be limited
to 100 participants. 
	America's Shrine to Music Museum is extraordinarily well-suited as
a venue for the conference.  The Museum's holdings are unsurpassed for
studying the 18th-century stringed-keyboard instrumentarium in its
geographical and technological diversity. 
	Those holdings uniquely include two grand pianos with
Cristofori-type actions, one by Manuel Antunes, Lisbon, 1767, the other by
Louis Bas, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, 1781.  Among the Museum's other
keyboard instruments from this period are expressive harpsichords by
Jacques Germain, Paris, 1785 (with peau de buffle register; originally
with genouillères), and Joseph Kirckman, London, 1798 (with machine stop
and Venetian swell); clavichords by Johann Paul Kraemer und Söhne,
Göttingen, 1804, and an anonymous Swedish maker, about 1770; a
tangentenflügel by F.J. Späth and C.F. Schmahl, Regensburg, 1784; and, a
square piano by Johannes Zumpe and Gabriel Buntebart, London, 1776.
	In addition, the Museum's extensive collections of 18th-century
stringed and wind instruments will allow the keyboard instruments to be
seen in the context of instrument-making as a whole.  This
interdisciplinary approach will involve musical-instrument scholars,
performers, makers, and musicologists, as well as others in the
humanities, including historians of art, technology, and society.
	Topics to be explored are: 
	1) 	the instruments of Cristofori, including his innovative
harpsichords and clavichords; 
	2)	the influence of Cristofori's pianos on makers in 
Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, and England; 
	3)	the repertoire associated with these instruments 
(Giustini, Scarlatti?, J.S. Bach?, C.P.E. Bach, J.G. Eckard, et al.); 
	4) 	the development of new techniques of composition and
playing to increase the expressivity of the harpsichord (see, for example,
François Couperin's introductory comments in L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, 
Paris, 1716); 
	5)	the addition of expressive devices to the harpsichord 
(knee levers, Venetian swell, peau de buffle stops, etc); 
	6)	the cultivation of the clavichord; 
	7)	the pantalon and other "hard-hammer" instruments such as 
the tangentenflügel; 
	8)	the popularity of Johannes Zumpe's square pianos (and the 
comparable popularity of the English guitar, which Zumpe also made); 
	9)	combined harpsichord-pianos; 
	10)	other expressive claviers, such as the Bogenflügel and 
	11)	the wish to play keyboard instruments in expressive 
manners similar to those used for the voice and other instruments 
(especially the flute and violin); 
	12)	the development and use of d'amore instruments (cembal 
d'amour, oboe d'amore, viola d'amore); 
	13)	the use of pianos and other expressive claviers to 
accompany other instruments or the voice; and, 
	14)	analogies and precedents in the visual arts (with 
reference, for example, to Burney's description of the piano's capability
to render chiaroscuro) and literature (rhetoric, oration, and so on). 

For additional information, write to America's Shrine to Music Museum, 414
E. Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069, USA; call +1-605-677-5306; fax
+1-605-677-5073; E-mail