Harpsichord | music

Music

Historical period

Bach's Little Prelude in C major being played on a harpsichord

The great bulk of the standard repertoire for the harpsichord was written during its first historical flowering, the Renaissance and Baroque eras.

The first music written specifically for solo harpsichord was published around the early 16th century. Composers who wrote solo harpsichord music were numerous during the whole Baroque era in European countries including Italy, Germany, England and France. Solo harpsichord compositions included dance suites, fantasias, and fugues. Among the most famous composers who wrote for the harpsichord were the members of English virginal school of the late Renaissance, notably William Byrd (ca. 1540 – 1623). In France, a great number of highly characteristic solo works were created and compiled into four books of ordres by François Couperin (1668–1733). Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) began his career in Italy but wrote most of his solo harpsichord works in Spain; his most famous work is his series of 555 harpsichord sonatas. Perhaps the most celebrated composers who wrote for the harpsichord were Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759), who composed numerous suites for harpsichord, and especially J. S. Bach (1685–1750), whose solo works (for instance, the Well-Tempered Clavier and the Goldberg Variations), continue to be performed very widely, often on the piano. Bach was also a pioneer of the harpsichord concerto, both in works designated as such, and in the harpsichord part of his Fifth Brandenburg Concerto.

Two of the most prominent composers of the Classical era, Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), wrote harpsichord music. For both, the instrument featured in the earlier period of their careers and was abandoned once they had shifted their efforts to the piano.

Music written for the revived instrument

Through the 19th century, the harpsichord was almost completely supplanted by the piano. In the 20th century, composers returned to the instrument, as they sought out variation in the sounds available to them. Under the influence of Arnold Dolmetsch, the harpsichordists Violet Gordon-Woodhouse (1872–1951) and in France, Wanda Landowska (1879–1959), were at the forefront of the instrument's renaissance. Concertos for the instrument were written by Francis Poulenc (the Concert champêtre, 1927–28), and Manuel de Falla. Elliott Carter's Double Concerto is scored for harpsichord, piano and two chamber orchestras. For a detailed account of music composed for the revived harpsichord, see Contemporary harpsichord.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Cembalo
العربية: هاربسكورد
asturianu: Clavecín
Bân-lâm-gú: Cembalo
беларуская: Клавесін
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Клявэсын
български: Клавесин
bosanski: Čembalo
brezhoneg: Klav-kerdin
català: Clavicèmbal
Чӑвашла: Клавесин
čeština: Cembalo
dansk: Cembalo
Deutsch: Cembalo
eesti: Klavessiin
Ελληνικά: Τσέμπαλο
español: Clavecín
Esperanto: Klaviceno
euskara: Klabizenbalo
français: Clavecin
furlan: Clavicembal
Gaeilge: Cruitchorda
Gàidhlig: Cruit-chòrda
한국어: 하프시코드
Հայերեն: Կլավեսին
hrvatski: Čembalo
íslenska: Semball
italiano: Clavicembalo
עברית: צ'מבלו
ქართული: კლავესინი
қазақша: Клавесин
Кыргызча: Клавесин
latviešu: Klavesīns
Lëtzebuergesch: Cembalo
lietuvių: Klavesinas
magyar: Csembaló
македонски: Чембало
Nederlands: Klavecimbel
Nedersaksies: Klavecimbel
日本語: チェンバロ
norsk: Cembalo
norsk nynorsk: Cembalo
occitan: Clavecin
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Klavesin
polski: Klawesyn
română: Clavecin
русский: Клавесин
Seeltersk: Cembalo
sicilianu: Clavicìmmalu
Simple English: Harpsichord
slovenčina: Čembalo
slovenščina: Čembalo
српски / srpski: Чембало
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Čembalo
suomi: Cembalo
svenska: Cembalo
Türkçe: Klavsen
українська: Клавесин
Tiếng Việt: Harpsichord
粵語: 古鍵琴
中文: 大鍵琴