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itl Oootfs, 



The Harpsichord Maker 











'I ISfiW HcJViiCO' GH- CiHl 



'-s V 



Vn-^ , 



THE object of the following memoir is to give in 
as brief a way as possible an account of the 
career of one of the distinguished London 
craftsmen of the -eighteenth century, who, 
though a foreigner by birth, identified himself 
completely with the musical and social life of 
England, and obtained a reputation beyond the 
land of his adoption. The author claims no 
special fitness for the task save that the early 
years of his life were spent in the house in which 
Burkat Shudi lived and carried on his trade 
more than a hundred years earlier. At the time 
also of the compilation of Grove's Dictionary of 
Music and Musicians he was associated with the 
late A. J. Hipkins, F.S.A., in the preparation of 
some of the articles, and gathered together a 
good deal of the material supplied by that writer. 
To obtain this he made careful search for old 


Tschudi,the Harpsichord Maker 

business books of the eighteenth century in 
Shudi's house, and collected a mass of informa- 
tion, some of which is published for the first 
time in the following pages. The author also 
did much honorary work at the exhibition of 
Ancient Musical Instruments held at Albert 
Hall in connection with the Music and Inventions 
Exhibition of the year 1885. He arranged all 
the keyboard instruments, and wrote a descrip- 
tive catalogue of the same, receiving the award 
of a silver medal for his services. 

He desires to acknowledge his deep indebted- 
ness to Miss Lucy Broadwood, without whose 
valuable help the chapter on the early life of 
Burkat Shudi could not have been written. 

















TSCHUDI AND His FAMILY .... Frontispiece 










NO. 511 (FRONT) . . . . 42 


NO. SII (SIDE) . . . . . 42 


NO. 512 . 44 



THE GREAT . . . . 48 


SOHO ....... 50 








FOR the sake of those who have but little ac- 
quaintance with the musical instruments of the 
past, it may be well to explain what the harpsi- 
chord was. The harpsichord was one of the 
immediate precursors of the pianoforte, and 
occupied an important position in the musical 
life of the eighteenth century. Like the virginal 
or spinet the sound was produced by a mechanical 
plectrum, which rose and plucked the string as 
each key was touched. The plectrum, which 
was of hard leather or crow-quill, was fixed in a 
contrivance called a jack, and when the jack 
fell after plucking the string a small piece of 
cloth inserted in it damped the sound. No 
expression was possible by means of the hand. 
To strike the key hard indeed produced less 
sound, a fact which is somewhat painfully 
evident in listening to those who play to-day 


Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

upon restored instruments of this family, and 
from mere habit act as if seated at a pianoforte. 
The touch required is more that of the organ. It 
is curious to note that as the harpsichord was 
being supplanted by the pianoforte, musicians 
were slow in learning the different technique 
demanded by the latter instrument. In the 
year 1799 a customer writes to Shudi's successor 
to have a Venetian swell put to a grand piano he 
has ordered. The Venetian swell was invented 
by Shudi for the harpsichord in 1769. The 
whole of the instrument was carefully closed in, 
and the top was covered with an arrangement 
like a Venetian blind, the shutters opening at a 
touch of the foot to let out the sound. Before 
putting the swell to the piano the maker writes : 
* If the gentleman who wants the grand piano- 
forte is not positive in having a swell, we would 
thank you to persuade him off it, as it is a thing 
that adds much to the intricacy and weight of 
the instrument, and is of no advantage, the forte 
in the grand pianoforte being designed to be 
made with the finger and not with the foot like 
the harpsichord/ Nevertheless the swell was 

The Harpsichord described 

put, but this protest was added : ' We hope you 
will not be offended with our declining to put a 
swell in future to any grand pianoforte, being 
convinced they deaden the tone to appearance, 
and being exceedingly troublesome to make, 
which, however, we should not mind did it 
answer to satisfaction/ 

In the smaller contemporaneous instruments 
called spinets no expression at all was possible. 
By the spinet is meant an instrument roughly 
triangular in form, like a couched harp, which, 
as it cost much less, and was smaller than the 
harpsichord, was extremely popular from the 
time of the Restoration down to the end of the 
eighteenth century. The term virginal was 
also applied to these spinets. Indeed under the 
Tudors and up to the Commonwealth the word 
was used for any stringed keyboard instrument. 
Antiquaries now restrict it to the smaller coffer- 
shaped instrument, which is rarer than the 
spinet, much fewer having been made in 
England. So that the ' two pairs of virginals 
with 4 stops ' mentioned in the privy purse 
expenses of Henry vm. under the date of 1520 


( Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

is interpreted to mean a double-keyed harpsi- 
chord in an outer case. By the ' pair of 
excellent virginals ' on which Prudence played 
to Christiana in the house called Beautiful 
John Bunyan probably meant a spinet. Samuel 
Pepys also notices at the fire of London that the 
' river was full of lighters and boats taking in 
goods and good goods swimming in the water, 
and only I observed that hardly one lighter or 
boat in three that had the goods of a house but 
there was a pair of virginals in it.' 

The expression ' pair ' means only a single 
instrument, meaning perhaps gradation in the 
old sense of the keys as steps through the 
intervals of the scale. Some of these instru- 
ments were probably spinets. A most interest- 
ing notice of Pepys, under date I4th June 1661, 
is : ' I sent to my house by my Lord's desire his 
shippe and triangle Virginal/ Here we have 
undoubtedly a true spinet, but the form being 
new to Pepys he coins an expression for it, and 
from its roughly triangular form calls it a 
1 triangle virginal.' His first use of the right 
word is in 1668. ' To Whitehall, took Aldgate 


Harpsichord described 

Street on my way, and there called upon one 
Haward that makes Virginalls, and there did 
like of a little Espinette and will have him finish 
it for me, for I had a mind to a small Harpsicon, 
but this takes up less room, and will do my 
business as to finding out of chords, and I am 
very well pleased that I have found it/ 

The great superiority of the harpsichord over 
these instruments arose from the fact that 
variety of tone could be produced by stops 
which controlled separate rows of jacks acting 
upon different strings. Technical descriptions 
of these stops, and the evidence concerning their 
invention, may be found in text-books. Suffice 
to say that the harpsichord in its most perfect 
form had the swell already described and four 
separate rows of jacks. By these one, two, or 
three strings could be plucked. One string, 
called the * octave/ was below the others. It 
was tuned an octave higher, and was caught 
by the quill in the passage of the jack upward. 
Another pleasing variety of tone was the ' lute ' 
stop. In this the strings were plucked closer 
to the bridge, producing a different set of 


Tschudi^the Harpsichord Maker 

vibrations and a delicate reedy tone. The 
' buff ' or ' harp ' stop effect was caused by small 
pads of leather pressed against each string and 
muting them. A stop at the left side could be 
worked by a pedal attached to the left leg, 
throwing on certain combinations without taking 
the hands from the keys. The two keyboards 
of the most expensive or ' double ' harpsichords 
enabled the various effects to be used in con- 
trast. It has been the custom by some to 
depreciate the harpsichord and to pity those 
whose only keyed instrument it was. The tone 
has even been called a ' scratch with a sound at 
the end of it.' But such pity is certainly thrown 
away. The soft and delicate tones of the harp 
and lute stops, and the rushing crescendo of the 
swell, are effects which can only be heard on the 
harpsichord, and belong to the time when 
musical instruments were in their age of wood, 
and when metal did not rule. They are ana- 
logous sounds to the ' mildly pleasing strain ' 
of the ' warbling lute/ and the sweet moan of 
the recorder or flute h bee. 

The harpsichord was largely used in public. 


The Harpsichord described 

It was the constant support to the recitative 
secco during the time of Handel and Bach. 
How well it served its purpose is strikingly 
illustrated by the fact that the earliest harpsi- 
chord of Shudi's known, made almost im- 
mediately after he began business on his own 
account, viz. in 1729, and which will be fully 
described later on, is still in use. Herr Paul de 
Wit, writing from Leipzig in November 1911, 
says : ' It has a most wonderful singing and 
carrying tone as one can realise, for it is regularly 
used to accompany the secco recitative in 
Don Giovanni and Figaro in the big theatre 
that holds two thousand/ Also on the iyth 
April 1912 he further writes : ' The instrument 
is now at the Deutsches Theatre in Berlin, where 
it is used every evening for the representation of 
George Dandin by the Reinhardt ensemble. It 
has a wonderful tone, filling the whole room of 
the theatre/ 

The last occasion on which the harpsichord 
was used in public, which the writer has been 
able to find, was at the rehearsal of the King's 
birthday ode at St. James's Palace on 4th June 


Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

1795. The King's band was a conservative 
institution, and would be likely to retain it as 
long as possible. Year by year a harpsichord 
was sent, so the books of Shudi and Broadwood 
record, for rehearsal and performance, but in 
1795 a harpsichord was sent for the rehearsal 
and a grand piano for the performance. Always 
afterwards a grand piano is sent, ceasing in 

The earliest pianos were of rectangular shape, 
afterwards called ' squares/ Although they 
rapidly found favour and quickly displaced the 
spinet, it was really the grand piano which 
effaced the harpsichord. Where the piano was 
for a long while is shown by an entry on I2th 
May 1781, when dementi left London for a 
series of concerts, beginning at Paris. 'A 
harpsichord and a pianoforte shipped to Paris 
for Mr. dementi/ The harpsichord was un- 
doubtedly the solo instrument, and the piano 
must have been a small square, for the term 
' grand ' does not come into use before 1790, and 
the few that were made previous to this were 
always called ' large pianofortes/ dementi's 


The Harpsichord described 

piano was sent to be used for accompaniment 
only, as in 1767, when at the performance of the 
Beggar's Opera at Covent Garden, Mr. Dibdin 
accompanied Miss Brickler ' on a new instru- 
ment call'd pianoforte/ 

When we turn to the use of the harpsichord 
in private, we can only conclude that its employ- 
ment was very limited. Here our compassion 
is not wasted. The great length and tenuity 
of the strings kept it constantly out of tune, 
and the octave string made matters worse. 
Tuning contracts were by the quarter. A 
guinea was paid, and although the number of 
visits is not stated they were probably not less 
than six. Even this was not enough for some. 
On 7th April 1772 ' Mr. Ward paid his bill and 
agread to have his Harp d . tuned every week for 
2s. 6d., the 7th being the first time/ 6, los. a 
year for tuning, bearing in mind the relative 
value of money, was a good round sum to pay, 
in addition to which was constant requilling 
and regulating. Only a small part of each 
crow-quill was of service, and the consumption 
of them must have been enormous. One firm 


^ the Harpsichord Maker 

orders ' 8000 crow-quills at IDS. 6d. per 1000.' 
The full length of a double harpsichord was 
8 ft. 10 in., and the cost with Venetian swell was 
85 guineas, at the time when the annual rental 
of the mansion at Hyde Park Corner, where 
St. George's Hospital now stands, was 60 per 
annum. Evidence as to the actual number of 
harpsichords made is given by the fact that 
Burkat Shudi and his son numbered their 
harpsichords consecutively, and we learn from 
this that during the whole of their career they 
did not make more than twelve hundred. 
Yet their successors from 1782 to 1802 made 
no less than seven thousand square pianos and 
over a thousand grands. The lifelong com- 
petitors of the Shudis, the Kirchmanns, may 
have made more harpsichords, but as they did 
not number them we have no means of telling. 
The story told by Burney in Rees's Cyclopedia 
of the distress of Jacob Kirchmann at the ladies 
forsaking the harpsichord for the guitar is 
amusing. He says : ' The vogue of the guitar 
was so great among all ranks of people as 
nearly to break all the harpsichord and spinet- 

The Harpsichord described 

makers, and indeed the harpsichord masters 
themselves. All the ladies disposed of their 
harpsichords at auctions for one-third of their 
price, or exchanged them for guitars, till old 
Kirchmann, the harpsichord-maker, after almost 
ruining himself with buying in his instruments 
for better times, purchased likewise some cheap 
guitars and made a present of several to girls 
in milliners' shops, and to ballad-singers in the 
streets, whom he had taught to accompany 
themselves with a few chords and triplets, 
which soon made the ladies ashamed of their 
frivolous and vulgar taste and return to the 

It would not be fair to close this brief account 
of the English harpsichord without saying a 
word concerning the singularly beautiful grand 
piano which replaced it, an instrument as unlike 
a modern grand as can well be imagined. The 
writer possesses one of 1793 made by Shudi's 
son-in-law, John Broadwood, which is numbered 
521, and is exactly similar to the instrument 
Joseph Haydn must have played upon in 1792 
at his own and Madame Mara's concerts at 


Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

Saloman's Rooms. The grands of this period 
were made exactly on the lines of the harpsi- 
chord, supported on a frame, and with the pedal 
feet projecting from each front leg. The curve of 
the bent side was even more elegant than that 
of the harpsichord. The hammers were covered 
with hard and thin wash leather to produce a 
harpsichord tone. The loud pedal lifted the 
dampers from the strings as now. Each note 
had three strings, those in the bass being thick 
brass wire only, and it was possible by means of 
the soft pedal to shift the hammers not only on 
to two strings, as in modern grands, but also 
on to one only, which is not possible now. This 
is the una corda, a sign found in the writings 
of old composers, which has now become 
meaningless. The sympathetic vibration of the 
untouched strings produced a beautiful effect. 

The rapid spread of the pianoforte and the 
increasing demand for it even in the closing 
years of the eighteenth century is remarkable. 
America at this time was becoming a great 
market for pianos, and the orders sent by one 
John Bradford of Charleston, South Carolina, 


The Harpsichord described 

during these years are quite a revelation. It 
was the custom for clients to write in the order- 
book, which Shudi's son-in-law kept, their wishes, 
and to this circumstance we owe the preserva- 
tion of the following autograph entry, which is 
copied verbatim. The tragic interest lately 
attached to the name is sufficient excuse for 
quoting it. 

' 14 March 1795. 

' GENTLEMEN, Please to make me one of the 
best Grant Pianofortes you Can. I Rely on 
your Honor to let it be a good one. I wh to 
have it Plain in every Respect and the case of 
handsome wood, the Pelly may be screwed fast, 
When Done call on Mr. George Astor for the 
payment. I shall wish to have it ship d in July 
or August by the ship Hope for New York or 
any other good ship. I am, Gentlemen, With 
Respect, Yours, JOHN JACOB ASTOR. 




cWj^-i ^ : 
BURCKHARDT TscHUDi or, as he afterwards 

anglicised his name, Burkat Shudi, was born at 
Schwanden in the canton of Glarus in Switzer- 
land on the I3th March 1702. It is scarcely 
possible to find a fairer valley in all Switzerland 
than that in which Schwanden is situated, 
surrounded as it is by snow-clad peaks and 
watered by two rushing torrents, the Sernf and 
the Linth. The locality is out of the beaten 
track of tourists, and quite unknown to them. 
The people to-day are described as extremely 
diligent, honest, and unspoilt, educated to 
citizenship from boyhood. Burckhardt's father, 
Joshua, was a wool-merchant, a councillor, and 
a surgeon. The house in which he was born 
still stands, but is broken up into tenements, and 
is a tinware factory. His mother was an Elmer, 
a name which later on in 1735 figures among the 

'Tschudfs Early Life 

wadding-makers. Thanks to the extreme care 
with which the death-rolls, church-books, and 
other archives of Glarus are kept it is possible 
to trace the Tschudis back through many 
centuries. Much information concerning them 
was published in the Jahrbuch des Historischen 
Vereins des Glarus in 1899. A native of Glarus 
and connection of the Tschudis, Professor 
Blumer, compiled a genealogical tree, which he 
carries back to Johann, Mayor of Glarus, born 
about 870, and establishes that Heinrich, born 
1074, died 1149, made Feodary of Glarus by 
Lady Gutta, Abbess of Seckingen, was the first 
to adopt the name of Schudi (sic). It would be 
outside the scope of this memoir to dwell upon 
the ancestry of Burckhardt Tschudi, or to 
describe the important oinces held by members 
of the family, and the high position they always 
had in their lovely native valley. Their char- 
acter was of the sternest and most uncompromis- 
ing mould. Industry, skilfulness, and the power 
to succeed and excel, even when fortune frowned, 
seem always to have been characteristics of the 
Tschudis, and to have come as naturally to them 


Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

as the free mountain air they breathed. Their 
place in Europe no doubt nurtured these 
qualities. A living descendant of Tschudi's 
writes : l His uncompromising disposition was 
a race characteristic, bred of the many centuries' 
long struggle against Austria's encroachments, 
and the severe climate of Glarus. Through all 
their history, carefully chronicled like that of 
other leading Swiss families, can be traced the 
Tschudi dogged determination to overcome 
difficulties and maintain their independence. 
This Swiss spirit impressed even Buonaparte, 
so that when under the convention he was 
dividing up Europe he neutralised their federa- 
tion and granted a continuation of local self- 
government to Glarus and the adjoining cantons. 
Also the Tschudis never forgot that their origin 
was as old and noble as the Hapsburgs whom 
they withstood/ 

Young Burckhardt was taught the trade of 
the joiner, and must have begun early, for he 
left his native valley, never to return, at the 
age of sixteen. He was taught the trade by 
his uncle, also a Joshua, who is described as 


*Tscbudi*$ Early Life 

' Schreinermeister Leutnant und Schiitzen- 
meister im grossen Miihlehaus in Schwanden/ 
It would probably be more correct to call the 
trade he learnt cabinet-making. Glarus, especi- 
ally Schwanden, provided slates in wooden 
frames for almost the whole of Europe, and also 
made wooden cabinets and tables with fine 
polished slate tops, and other slate articles which 
were exported everywhere. These slate tables, 
beautifully framed in wood, were made largely 
for inns, and are still to be found in use. Slates 
for writing purposes formed also one of the 
joinery industries of Schwanden. In addition, 
there was a large exportation of the more 
beautiful woods in thd seventeenth century. 
The age of oak for furniture was passing away, 
and walnut, cherry, hornbeam, and pine are 
particularised, in addition to which finely-cut 
wood for musical instruments is mentioned, 
this being called ' Geigenspelten ' (fiddle-boards) . 
This was probably the wood of the spruce-fir 
(abies excelsa), chosen for its lightness and 
resonance to-day as the sounding-board wood 
for the modern piano. The violin-makers of 

B 17 

) the Harpsichord Maker 

Cremona may have drawn their wood from 
Schwanden, and the great Antwerp harpsichord- 
makers of the seventeenth century most likely 
did the same. 

But the early years of the eighteenth century 
brought bad times to Schwanden. The wood 
in Glarus began to run short. The slate workers 
in many cases turned wood-merchants, and 
travelled to distant parts for their finer woods, 
which they cut up where they found it and sent 
it to England. In the second decade of the 
century the deforestation had become so serious 
that the Cantonal Parliament resolved that for 
ten years in no community or parish might wood 
be sold outside the country. It is also recorded 

that ' Timber trade is not so flourishing as in 


former times. Maser-holz is not so easy to 
find, and the English have imported from 
Canada a wood that is better liked. Also 
the prevailing fashion of panelled cup- 
boards and whole rooms (using walnut) has 

The distress was great, and the joiners or 
cabinet-makers suffered most. It is no small 


s Early Life 

tribute to the courage and indomitable persever- 
ance of the Glarus folk to add that foreseeing 
greater misery in store they turned their talents 
to cotton-weaving. One of the first to set up 
a loom was Burckhardt Tschudi's father. The 
loom grew to many until the trade was so 
important that up to a hundred years ago 
Glarus sent cotton goods all over the world. 
Competition has robbed this industry of some 
of its importance, but to this day quantities 
of ' Oriental ' patterned goods still go from 
Schwanden to the East. 

It is not hard, after all that has been said, to 
understand why the young joiner, Burckhardt 
Tschudi, decided to leave his much-loved native 
valley and seek his living elsewhere. What it 
cost him to do so can well be imagined. But 
there was a special reason for his choosing 
London. The church -books of Schwanden 
contain entries concerning another well-known 
Glarus family, the Wilds, who were directly 
descended from Anna, sister of the reformer 
Zwingli. Amongst them are the following : 
' Church-elder, Joh. Wild, 1694-1756, dwelt 


Harpsichord Maker 

many years in London, succeeded in his pro- 
fession, and made a very good fortune,' also 
' Merchant Hans Jakob Wild, 1674-1741, lived 
many years in London and died in the house 
of his son-in-law, the clavier-maker, Burckhardt 
Tschudi.' Further particulars of their callings 
are not given, but it is fair to assume they were 
among those who left Schwanden in the early 
days of the distress and in advance of Burck- 
hardt. Jakob Wild's wife was Salome Kubli, and 
it was their daughter Catherine, born 1704, that 
Burckhardt married. It is not known when 
Jakob Wild left Schwanden. It may not have 
been very long before Burckhardt's departure. 
He indeed and Catherine perhaps played to- 
gether as children in the Glarus valley, and the 
thought of meeting her again may have made 
his migration less hard to bear. Though 
Burckhardt did not return to Schwanden he did 
not forget it, nor was he forgotten. The Glarus 
Zeitung says : ' His native village honoured him 
by choosing him as Father of the Church, though 
he always lived in London. He acquired a 
large fortune, but more than this was the 

s Early Life 

faithful love and honour he paid his parents. 
for whom he provided in their declining 
years/ It is not clear if this refers to Burck- 
hardt's own parents or to Jakob and Salome 
Wild. Probably both are meant. The last- 
named certainly died in Tschudi's house in 

Arrived in London young Tschudi obtained 
work in the house of one Tabel, a Flemish 
harpsichord-maker working in London in 
Swallow Street, St. James's. It was, naturally, 
in such a business that his skill in fine joinery 
work would be best employed. His nephew, later 
on, in an advertisement he sent forth, says : 
' Harpsichord makers must be joiners and is 
the cofnon course of our business.' Concerning 
this Tabel scarcely anything is known. It is Dr. 
Burney who tells us Tschudi went to him, and 
James Tsehudi. Broadwood, writing in 1838, 
gives us the important information that Tabel 
had learned his business in the house of the 
successor of the Ruckers of Antwerp. He also 
adds that Tabel, it is believed, was the first 
person who made harpsichords in London. This 


) the Harpsichord Maker 

latter statement can hardly be true. Pepys, 
recording his visit in 1666 to the spinet-maker 
Haward, says he had ' a mind to a small harpsi- 
con,' which looks very much as if Haward were 
making them at this time. There is besides a 
harpsichord by John Hitchcock, also a spinet- 
maker, at the South Kensington Museum, and 
although Hitchcock's date is not known it can 
hardly have been later than the closing years of 
the seventeenth century. But that there was 
very little harpsichord-making in England before 
the days of the great manufacturers, Tschudi and 
Kirchmann, is certain. Though known here in 
the sixteenth century the instrument was im- 
ported from Italy, the land of its birth, and in 
the next century almost entirely from Antwerp. 
From 1579 an d onwards for about one hundred 
years there flourished at Antwerp four genera- 
tions of harpsichord - makers of the famous 
family of the Ruckers. No other instruments 
ever approached theirs for their sweet silvery 
tone and beauty of workmanship as well as 
durability. They were quite unlike the English 
instruments. The cases were usually japanned. 


T'schudPs Early Life 

The sounding-board was ornamented with a 
rose-hole and painted with flowers, while the 
rest of the interior was decorated with a lovely 
shade of red. Often the lid was painted inside 
by some master painter, or else inscribed with 
mottoes. One by Andries Ruckers, the elder, 
dated 1614, has a painting by Van der Meulen 
within the top. One purchased by the private 
secretary of Charles i. for that monarch by 
Hans Ruckers, the younger, was painted inside 
by Rubens, the subject being Cupid and Psyche. 
Owing to the high artistic character of their work 
the Ruckers belonged to the Guild of St. Luke, 
the Painters' Guild. The last of the Ruckers 
passed away long before the seventeenth century 
had closed. Yet their instruments remained in 
use for more than a century after and were 
highly prized. As late as 1770 one fetched the 
enormous price, at that time, of 120, and as late 
as 1820 one Preston, a music-dealer in the Strand, 
had one made by Hans Ruckers, the elder, whi ch 
was bought at the demolition of Nonsuch Palace, 
and was said to have been Queen Elizabeth's. 
When the outer case decayed, or grew shabby, 


Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

and the keys were worn through, it was the 
custom to have them entirely recased in 
mahogany, ornamented with stringing, accord- 
ing to the fashion of the time. New keys were 
put and little was retained save the interior 
bracing, and the precious sounding-board on 
which their marvellous tone depended. As late 
as 1772 Tschudi had two Ruckers harpsichords 
in constant use, and his books contain such 
entries as these : ' Mr. Lee had the Ruker for one 
night/ ' Miss Fleming hired the little Ruker.' 
( Duchess of Richmond had a new double harpsi- 
chord instead of a Ruker for hire.' ' Lady 
Pembroke hired the little Ruker for Bright- 
hampstone.' ' Lady Cathren Murray hired the 
little Ruker harpsichord.' These instruments 
must have been considerably more than one 
hundred years old at the date of the entries. 
Over sixty Ruckers harpsichords are in exist- 
ence at the present time. 

Who succeeded the Ruckers is not known. 

Probably the great Antwerp manufacture 
ceased before the end of the century, and Tabel, 
with whom we are more intimately concerned, 


Tscbudfs Early Life 

somewhere about 1700 settled in London. It is re- 
corded in 1777 that 'Lady Howe bought a second- 
hand harpsichord by Table' (sic), a solitary 
instance of the mention of the name. Fortun- 
ately there is one specimen of his handiwork in 
existence, in possession of Helen, Countess of 
Radnor. A glance at it shows from whom he 
learned his business. His name is inscribed, just 
as Andries Ruckers did, in Roman capitals 
three quarters of an inch long : ' Hermanns 
Tabel, Fecit, Londini 1721.' There is a rose-hole 
in the sounding-board. The naturals are black, 
and the sharps veneered with a slip of ivory at 
top. The stops are two on each side, lute and 
octave, and first and second unison. The 
cabinet-work is excellent, and in it young 
Tschudi may have had a hand. Tabel lived till 
1738, and his will was proved early the following 
year. He mentions a brother in Amsterdam 
and his wife, to whom, after a few pecuniary 
bequests, he bequeaths the residue of his 

Not only was Tschudi employed by Tabel but 
also his competitor Kirchmann. Burney calls 


Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

them Tabel's foremen, but he is far from 
accurate, for he says Kirchmann did not come 
to London till 1740, which was two years 
after Tabel's death. He must have been some 
time previous to this in Tabel's employ, seeing 
that, according to the same authority, he 
succeeded to the business and married the 
widow. The story as told in Rees's Cyclopedia 
runs as follows : ' Kirchmann worked with the 
celebrated Tabel as his foreman and finisher 
till the time of his death. Soon after which, by 
a curious kind of courtship, Kirchmann married 
his master's widow, by which prudent measure 
he became possessed of all Tabel's seasoned 
wood, tools, and stock-in-trade. Kirchmann 
himself used to relate the singular manner in 
which he gained the widow, which was not by 
a regular siege but by storm. He told her one 
fine morning at breakfast that he was determined 
to be married that day before twelve o'clock. 
Mrs. Tabel, in great surprise, asked him to whom 
he was going to be married, and why so soon ? 
The finisher told her that he had not yet deter- 
mined whom he should marry, and that if she 

^s Early Life 

would have him he would give her the prefer- 
ence. The lady wondered at his precipitancy* 
hesitated full half an hour, but he, continuing 
to swear that the business must be done before 
twelve o'clock that day, at length she sur- 
rendered; and as this abridged courtship pre- 
ceded the marriage act, and the nuptials could 
be performed at the Fleet or May Fair with- 
out loss of time or hindrance to business, the 
canonical hour was saved, and two fond hearts 
were in one united in the most summary way 
possible just one month after the decease of 

Kirchmann did not continue Tabel's business, 
but set up independently in Broad Street, and 
in his harpsichords retained the rose-hole in the 
sounding-board, which Tschudi did not. He 
adopted as his sign the King's Arms. The King 
and the Prince of Wales were notoriously un- 
friendly, and as Tschudi adopted for his sign 
the Plume of Feathers we note in these signs the 
difference of patronage. It was long supposed 
that Tschudi commenced business for himself 
in Great Pulteney Street, and the traditional 


, the Harpsichord Maker 

date is 1732. It cannot have been so, for his 
earliest harpsichord known is dated 1729, and 
it certainly was not the first. Nor did he begin 
in Pulteney Street but in Heard Street. It is 
a striking testimony to the ability of this 
Schwanden joiner that probably by the time 
he was twenty-five he had become a skilled 
harpsichord-maker, and was working on his own 
account. The fine early eighteenth-century 
houses on the south side of Meard Street still 
retain much of their ancient respectability, 
and lest they should ere long take their place 
among vanishing London a photograph has 
been taken of them. In one of these houses 
Tschudi began his career of prosperity. Here 
it was that Handel so often came, and it was not 
till Jakob Wild, his father-in-law, had died in 
1741 that he removed. The Daily Advertiser 
of 5th October 1742 contains the following 
advertisement : ' This is to give notice that 
Burkat Shudi, Harpsichord-maker to his Royal 
Highness the Prince of Wales, is removed from 
Meard St. in Dean St., Soho, to Great Pulteney 
St., Golden Square.' 


*I*schud?$ Early Life 

The house in Great Pulteney Street has been 
rebuilt within the last few years. That in 
Heard Street still stands, although the exact 
house is not known. 




IN mentioning the removal of Tschudi from 
Heard Street to Great Pulteney Street we 
anticipate events and must return. Tschudi's 
marriage to Catherine Wild was an important 
time in his life. Unfortunately the date of the 
marriage is not known, and careful search for it 
in the registers of St. James's and St. Anne's 
has not been successful. It has been fixed as 
early as 1728 and as late as 1732. Somewhere 
between those dates it took place. If the earlier 
date it would agree very well with the time of his 
quitting Tabel, and commencing for himself the 
manufacture of harpsichords. It is also not 
certain if he began in Meard Street. The 
probability is strong that he did; and if doubt is 
entertained that a young man of some twenty- 
five or twenty-six years should be able to take a 
good house in a respectable quarter, it must be 

^fschudi and Handel 

borne in mind that Jakob and Salome Wild 
were prosperous people, and Tschudi's marriage 
with Catherine may have brought the means 
to start him on his successful career. The 
Wilds lived in Heard Street with Tschudi, as 
we have seen, and it was not till Jakob had 
died in 1741 that Tschudi removed. The end 
house which faces Dean Street is dated 1732, 
but the rest of the street may be a few years 

The most important factor in Tschudi's 
success was his friendship with Handel. Accord- 
ing to Tschudi's grandson, Handel was a con- 
stant guest at his table, which was ever well 
covered with German dishes and German wines. 
How this friendship came about is not clear. 
It began before Tschudi had gained any great 
repute at his trade. There must have been 
quite a Swiss circle at Soho when Handel came 
to London for the second time in 1718. We 
read in the chronicles of Schwanden of Hans 
B. Zopfi, ' Claviercordmacher/ who died in 
London in 1750, of whom absolutely nothing is 
known; of a picture-frame-maker, Stahelin, 


< Tschudi,tht Harpsichord Maker 

dying also in London in 1739 ; and in 1753 
Samuel Blumer, member of another well-known 
Glarus family, calls himself ' late foreman to 
Mr. Shudi.' For three years Handel was chapel- 
master to the Duke of Chandos and lived at 
Cannons. In the year 1729 he entered into 
partnership with Heidegger of the King's Theatre, 
and in the same year set out for Italy for singers 
for his new operas. Amongst those he brought 
back was Anna Strada del P6, who was the only 
one who remained faithful to him, and did not 
desert him for the rival new opera in Lincoln's 
Inn in 1733. Burney calls her a coarse singer 
with a fine voice. She had so little to recom- 
mend her to the eye that she was nicknamed 
' the pig/ and it took her some time to get into 
favour. Handel took pains with her, wrote for 
her, and advised her, and at length rendered 
her equal to the first singers of the Continent. 
She did more to make Handel a national 
favourite than any other singers, though he 
had the pick of them. On 3ist March 1730 a 
benefit was given for Anna Strada, attended by 
His Majesty, when Julius Ccesar was the opera. 


*fschudi and Handel 

Throughout that year she grew steadily in 
powers and favour as a singer. She left finally 
in 1738. 

Some six or seven years ago Herr Paul de 
Wit of Leipzig purchased in Rome a fine 
double harpsichord, which has already been 
referred to in the opening chapter, bearing the 
inscription : ' Burckat Tschudi, Londini, fecit 
1729.' It is in every respect a replica of the 
only Tabel harpsichord known. The name is 
in Roman capitals three quarters of an inch 
long in Ruckers* style. The ' furniture/ i.e. the 
brasswork of the stops, hinges, catches, etc., is 
Tabel's, and the keyboards are the same, the 
naturals being black and the sharps veneered 
atop with ivory. The stops also are four, lute 
and octave, and first and second unison. As 
an early work of Tschudi's, showing clearly 
that he was hardly emancipated from the 
atelier of Tabel, this instrument would be 
interesting, but there is more about it than 
this. On removing the name-board the follow- 
ing inscription is seen at the back : ' Questo 
cimbalo e del a Sig ra Anna Strada 1731, London/ 

c 33 

Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

Here, undoubtedly, is an instrument made by 
Tschudi in 1729, and becoming the property of 
Anna Strada in 1731. Who but Handel could 
have given it to her ? To this very instrument 
she must have sung, and on it Handel must have 
accompanied her. The date associated with 
Strada's name is the year when she had gained 
popularity. One pictures Handel in Heard 
Street choosing it or superintending its manu- 
facture, and it probably figured in her benefit 
at the King's Theatre. 

The mention of a harpsichord so authentically 
connected with Handel leads us to the con- 
sideration of the vexed question of the harpsi- 
chords which are said to have been his. Handel 
bequeathed to his amanuensis, Christopher 
Smith, all his MSS. ; and Smith, out of gratitude 
to the King for the pension allowed him after 
Handel's death, gave them to George in. With 
the MSS. Handel also left Smith his 'large' 
harpsichord, which Smith in turn is said to have 
given to the King with the MSS. There are two 
claimants to the honour of being the harpsichord 
which became Smith's. The first is an Andries 


*fschudi and Handel 

Ruckers, dated 1651, and now in the South 
Kensington Museum, where the testimony con- 
cerning it is also deposited. It is in the original 
japanned case, and the interior of the lid is 
inscribed with mottoes. In the year 1883, 
however, there was discovered in Windsor 
Castle a wrecked harpsichord of Joannes 
Ruckers, dated 1612, which was brought to the 
notice of Mr. W. G. Cusins (afterwards Sir 
William Cusins). In arranging and cataloguing 
the Loan Exhibition of Ancient Instruments 
at Albert Hall in 1885 this harpsichord passed 
through the writer's hands, and at his suggestion 
sets of keys were made for it to improve its 
appearance. The original case and keyboards 
were gone, and but little remained except the 
sounding-board and name. Having been found 
at Windsor Castle it was exhibited with a notice 
that it ' may have been the large harpsichord 
mentioned in Handel's will bequeathed to 
Christopher Smith and given by him to the 
King.' At the present time it is on loan at 
the Victoria and Albert Museum, with a label 
attached that it was ' bequeathed by Handel to 


) the Harpsichord Maker 

George n.' The statement in the Times that 
the ' keys, jacks, and stops are of modern make ' 
is not correct. Jacks and stops (the knobs only 
are gone) are original. The date of the double 
keyboard has already been mentioned. To 
any one familiar with the terms used in the 
eighteenth century neither of these instruments 
answer to the description ' large harpsichord/ 
The English harpsichords of this time were from 
eight to nine feet long, and the Ruckers harpsi- 
chords, averaging some seven feet, were called 
' little.' It is far more probable that it was a 
Shudi which has now been lost sight of, though 
Handel may in addition have had a Ruckers, 
seeing that Shudi had them in stock. The 
discussion may be closed in the words of one of 
the greatest musicologists of the Victorian age, 
the late Carl Engel. Speaking of a little 
clavichord in the Town Museum of Maidstone, 
said to have belonged to Handel, Engel writes 
in the Musical Times for August 1879 : ' If I 
were to give a list of all the musical instruments 
said to have belonged to Handel, which have 
been brought under my notice, I should probably 

Tschudi and Handel 

surprise the reader. Not only would it in- 
clude organs, fiddles, and harpsichords, but 
even various tuning-forks, and the very 
anvil of the famous Harmonious Blacksmith. 
Indeed, no other list of this kind which I 
might compile would surpass it in compre- 
hensiveness, unless it be a list of the harps 
and guitars said to have belonged to Queen 
Marie Antoinette/ 

The finest portrait of Handel in existence is 
that by Philip Mercier, in possession of the 
Earl of Malmesbury. Mercier was a German 
painter of French extraction, and came to 
England from Hanover with Frederick, Prince 
of Wales, the son of George u. and father of 
George in., whose portrait he painted and 
brought with him. Handel's portrait has on 
the back of the canvas the following inscription : 
* Portrait of Mr. Handel given by him to 
Thomas Harris, Esquire, about 1748.' It was 
probably painted a little earlier, at the time 
when he had recovered from his bankruptcy of 
1745, and when his health and his fortunes 
had taken a turn for the better ; for we read in 


) the Harpsichord Maker 

the Letters of the First Earl of Malmesbury that 
Lord Shaftesbury reports him in 1746 as never 
looking so cool and well, and says that he had 
been buying some fine pictures. Thomas Harris 
was the brother of James Harris, who became 
first Earl of Malmesbury. The more gifted of 
the two undoubtedly was the elder brother 
James, known in the brilliant literary circle in 
which he moved as ' Hermes ' ; but Thomas was 
equally fond of music, and it is evident was 
among those who formed the inner circle of 
Handel's friends. It is ' Councillor ' Thomas 
Harris who witnessed Handel's will and the 
first three codicils. In the last codicil he 
becomes a beneficiary by a legacy of 300. 
In the picture the composer is seen hard at 
work, his wig laid aside and his shirt un- 
buttoned, while his harpsichord is open at his 
side. Through the kindness of the present 
Earl of Malmesbury the picture is here for the 
first time faithfully reproduced with its acces- 
sories. The harpsichord, evidently painted from 
one at which Handel actually sat, is extremely 
interesting. It is not a Ruckers but an English 


*Tfchudi and Handel 

instrument of the least expensive make. It is 
* single/ that is, having only one row of keys, 
and as only one stop is shown on the left-hand 
side, there could have been only three in all 
octave, first unison, and second unison. But 
the keyboard is the most noticeable. The 
black sharps are inlaid with a white slip, which 
was the custom of both John and Thomas 
Hitchcock, and was imitated by several other 
English makers. That Shudi occasionally 
adopted this form of keyboard is known, for 
the two harpsichords of 1766 by him, so long 
preserved in the apartments of Frederick the 
Great in the New Palace at Potsdam and now 
in the Hohenzollern Museum at the Palace of 
Monbijou in Berlin, have such keyboards. 
The harpsichord therefore shown in the Mercier 
portrait may well have been one of Shudi's. 
Several of Handel's MSS. accompanied the gift 
of the picture to Thomas Harris and are pre- 
served at Heron Court. 

We have reverted to the anglicised form of 
writing Shudi's name, because it was his custom 
so to inscribe his instruments after the time of the 


, the Harpsichord Maker 

Strada harpsichord, with the single exception 
of the two just mentioned which went to 
Frederick the Great. Yet his calligraphy was 
always German, as will be seen by the autograph 
here reproduced, which was found underneath 
the sounding-board of a harpsichord of 1761. 
One result of Handel's connection with Shudi 
was his introduction to Frederick, Prince of 
Wales, which entitled him to use the crest of 
the Plume of Feathers as the sign of his house 
when he removed to Great Pulteney Street. 
To it we also owe the preservation of another 
early harpsichord made for the Prince in 1740 
and sent to Kew Palace. It is now at Windsor 
Castle, and was exhibited at the Loan Collection 
at Albert Hall in 1885. It is a double harpsi- 
chord, not large in size, and has the lute stop. 
On the first key Shudi wrote : ' No. 94, f. 1740.' 
The number gives us some idea of Shudi's 
trade. He had now been making twelve years, 
and this works out at an average of about 
eight a year. In the height of his career he 
never made more than sixteen or eighteen 
per annum. It was not long after the date 

Tschudi and Handel 

of the Prince of Wales's harpsichord that 
Shudi, owing no doubt to increased patronage, 
removed to the wider and more fashionable 
street close by named after Queen Anne's Prime 



NOT very long after Shudi's establishment in 
Pulteney Street was painted the picture of 
himself and family, which is fairly well known 
through forming the frontispiece to Dr. Rim- 
bault's History of the Pianoforte, although the 
reproduction there given does not do justice 
to the excellence of the painting. Shudi is 
engaged in tuning a harpsichord, which is placed 
on a richly gilt stand, and is evidently something 
out of the way. He wears a flowing dressing- 
gown. His wife, Catherine Wild, takes her 
tea, and the two young boys stand near. The 
attire of all the family and their surroundings 
betokens a prosperous man. It was painted so 
as to fill a space in the panelling over the fire- 
place in the little front parlour of Shudi's house 
in Pulteney Street, and there it remained until 
some fifty years ago. Unfortunately the name 


Shudi and Frederick the Great 

of the painter is not known, and speculation has 
been rife. It was attributed by Sir John Millais 
to Zoffany, on account of its conversational 
style, but it does not resemble Zoffany's work. 
It was exhibited in 1892 at the Winter Exhi- 
bition at Burlington House. The Times- critic, 
after speaking in its praise, says : ' It is curious 
that the record of the painter's name should be 
lost. Certainly Hogarth did not paint it, and 
it is so much finer in execution than the con- 
versation pieces of his English contemporaries, 
that we are inclined to look abroad among 
Shudi's foreign countrymen for the artist. 
The drawing and modelling are admirable 
but in the colouring there is something crude 
and hard, which recalls the German work of the 
period.' Remembering the intimate connection 
between Philip Mercier and both Handel and 
the Prince of Wales, as well as Shudi's relations 
with both, one naturally looks to this painter as 
the author of the picture. Unluckily Mercier 's 
work is rare and scattered, and although the 
authorities at the National Portrait Gallery 
dismiss him from the reckoning their judgment 


) the Harpsichord Maker 

can by no means be considered as final. It 
certainly does not resemble the small Watteau- 
like group of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and 
the three princesses, painted in 1733, which is in 
that gallery. But at a later period Mercier had 
a bolder and larger style, to which the Shudi 
picture belongs. Its resemblance to the portrait 
of Handel just described is very striking. 
Both pictures are of the same period, and are 
far removed from Mercier's earlier French 
manner. It would seem as if Mercier 
adopted this style when he lost the favour 
of the Prince of Wales and was dismissed his 

The picture was painted about 1744. This 
is gathered from the age of the two boys. The 
elder, Joshua, was eight and the younger, Burkat, 
a year or two younger. According to a family 
tradition the harpsichord Shudi is tuning is 
one of which he made a present to Frederick 
the Great on the occasion of his winning the 
battle of Prague, which was fought in the above 
year. Shudi was a stout supporter of the 
Protestant cause in Germany, and the King of 



Shudi and Frederick the Great 

Prussia was then supposed to be fighting its 
battles. Evidence of Shudi's connection with 
the great Frederick is given by the fact that he 
possessed a ring which was given to him by that 
monarch, bearing his portrait. It is mentioned 
in Shudi's will, and he bequeaths it to his friend 
and compatriot the organ - builder Snetzler. 
This highly-prized ring cannot now be found. 
There is no trace of any harpsichord in Germany 
so early as the date referred to. If one went, it 
could hardly have been lost sight of, remember- 
ing the great care with which all the possessions 
of Frederick were preserved. It is also strange 
that in 1766 not one, but two, fine double harpsi- 
chords specially made should have been sent 
him, which were preserved with other heirlooms 
and memorabilia of Potsdam in the rooms 
where they were first placed, up to within the 
last few years. The late A. J. Hipkins got over 
the difficulty by suggesting that the two last- 
named harpsichords were a royal commission 
which was given to Shudi to execute as the 
result of his gift some twenty years earlier, and 
he believed in the ' battle of Prague ' harpsi- 


Tscbudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

chord being sent, though he could find no trace 
of it. Such documentary evidence as we have 
speaks of one harpsichord only, and gives the 
date as 1765. Thus, the Swiss lexicon, published 
at Zurich in 1795, says : ' From the Schwanden 
branch also descended Burckhardt, a poor 
journeyman cabinet-maker, who came to 
England, and became famous at the Court in 
London as a harpsichord-maker. Among other 
beautiful things, he made for the King of 
Prussia in 1765 an elegant harpsichord, with 
two manuals. Burckhardt Tschudi married in 
London, where he died in 1773.' 

Again the Allgemeine Augsburger Zeitung of 
1765 says : ' The celebrated Klaviermacher, 
Burckhardt Tschudi, a born Swiss of Schwanden 
in the canton Glarus, had the honour to make a 
harpsichord with two keyboards for His Majesty 
the King of Prussia, which was very much 
admired by all who saw it. It was remarked as 
an extraordinary thing that Tschudi has placed 
all the registers in one pedal, so that they can be 
taken off one after the other, and the decreasing 
and increasing of the tone can be produced at 


Sbudi and Frederick the Great 

will, which crescendo and decrescendo harpsi- 
chord-players have long wished for.' 

This description may be taken to mean the 
control of the side or machine stop by the foot, 
and the crescendo and decrescendo referred to 
the Venetian swell which was applied to the 
Potsdam harpsichords of 1766, though the 
patent for this invention was not taken out till 
1769. The article further goes on to mention 
that ' Tschudi was proud to have his royal 
harpsichord played upon for the first time by 
the most celebrated player of the world, the 
nine-year-old music-master Wolfgang Mozart.' 
The contrivances which are said to have been 
so much admired were new to Germany, and a 
great advance on the capabilities of the instru- 
ments in use in that country at the time. 

It is to be noted that both these accounts 
refer to one harpsichord only. They, however, 
can only be based on the two harpsichords of 
1766, which may have been made early that year, 
or possibly dated a little in advance. It is 
curious that the writer on applying to a friend 
in Berlin for the latest information concerning 


) the Harpsichord Maker 

these instruments, which he was unaware had 
been removed from Potsdam, received the follow- 
ing reply : ' I am informed that a Tschudi 
harpsichord of the year 1766 from one of the 
Royal Castles is now at the Hohenzollern 
Museum in Berlin. It is the harpsichord which 
I believe was presented by Tschudi to King 
Frederick the Great after the peace with Austria/ 

Owing to the kindness of Dr. Seidel, the 
director of the Hohenzollern Museum, photo- 
graphs have been taken of the two harpsichords 
in question. Both were made and sent together, 
for they are consecutive numbers, 511 and 512. 
The pattern of the ' furniture ' of both is the 
same. The keyboards are of the beautiful 
Hitchcock style, the sharps being inlaid with 
a slip of ivory. They have the full number of 
stops machine, lute, octave, buff, first unison 
and second unison, and the Venetian swell was 
applied. Full directions for the working of 
these stops are given on No. 511, showing how 
novel the improvements were. 

Shudi's books of this time are not in exist- 
ence, nor does there appear to be any record 

^ x ^>,V^ 

\W v\ ^ * 
. * * . , > - 

Shudi and Frederick the Great 

at Berlin of their coming into the country. 
Here, however, are two fine and carefully 
constructed harpsichords made by Shudi in the 
zenith of his career, made certainly for Frederick 
the Great, when he had nearly completed the 
Neues Palais at Potsdam, and according to 
Burney placed the one in the apartments of 
his sister the Princess Amelia and the other in 
that of his brother Prince Henry. Burney 
describes only the first one, No. 511, on oxidised 
silver legs. Both are inscribed 'Burckhardt 
Tschudi, fecit, Londini, 1766,' though he had 
long since called himself Shudi, and both may 
now be seen together in the Hohenzollern 




OF those who helped Shudi in his business 
there is but little known. Burney is our inform- 
ant that Johann Zumpe was one of his men. 
If so it must have been not much later than 
the middle of the eighteenth century, for in the 
early sixties of that century Zumpe had com- 
menced making the small clavichord-like table 
pianos, which rapidly became popular, attracting 
to this country for their manufacture quite a 
number of other Germans, such as Schoene, 
Ganer, Pohlmann, Beck, Buntebart, Garcka, 
Beyer, Froeschley, etc., traditionally known as 
the twelve apostles, although more than that 
number could be enumerated, many of whose 
instruments are known, bearing dates from 1766 
to 1780 and later. There is a bill-head existing 
of one Samuel Blumer, who calls himself ' late 
foreman to Mr. Shudi.' The date is given on 


Shudi and his Apprentices 

the back of the bill-head, which is a receipt for 
63, paid by Madam Alt for an upright harpsi- 
chord on 22nd August 1753. At the top of the 
bill-head is an engraving, which represents 
Blumer engaged in tuning a harpsichord while 
a lady and gentleman stand near. The whole 
is an evident rechauffe of the picture of the 
Shudi family group. Blumer styles himself 
' Harpsichord and spinet maker in Great Poult- 
eney Street, West Golden Square, London.' 
It is curious he should have established himself 
in the same street as his master, but their 
relations were probably friendly. Blumer is 
the name of an old Schwanden family still 
living in that valley, and Samuel doubtless was 
one of the joiners who were driven from home 
by the distress, and found work and help through 
the kindness of his fellow-countryman. 

Better known than Blumer was Shudi's 
nephew Joshua, between whom and his uncle 
relations became very strained. Joshua came 
from a quarrelsome stock. He was the son of 
Nicholas Tschudi, Burckhardt's elder brother, 
born in 1700, a serjeant-major of cavalry. On 

T'schudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

the I5th March 1742 Nicholas Tschudi and 
Jakob Hefti, a butcher, of Schwanden, fought 
together in the public-house of Rudolf Knecht. 
Neither were wounded severely, but one Hans 
Brauer, a dealer in cattle, who tried to separate 
them, paid for his intervention with his life, and 
died two hours after. Nicholas fled to England 
and came to his brother Burckhardt, who 
naturally did not welcome him very cordially. 
Subsequently he went to Holland and finally 
emigrated to America, where he died on loth 
January 1760. Condemned for his crime to a 
lifelong exile he never saw Schwanden after 
leaving it. His son Joshua was born in 1739. 
He may have been brought by his father to 
Burckhardt as a young child, together with his 
sister Anna Margarett, who afterwards married 
Zopfi, the harpsichord-maker mentioned in 
chap. in. It is known that Burckhardt dealt 
kindly with Joshua, and apprenticed him to 
the joinery trade, afterwards taking him into 
his house as a harpsichord-maker. How Joshua 
repaid this kindness is revealed by several 
advertisements in the Gazeteer of 1767. Joshua 

Shudi and his Apprentices 

left his uncle's employment and set up business 
for himself in the street at the end of that in 
which Shudi lived, viz. Silver Street, Golden 
Square, and adopted as his sign the Golden 
Guitar; whereupon Burckhardt advertises that 
he has no connection with Joshua, and throws a 
slight upon his work by saying that he was only 
a joiner, which, though excusable under the 
circumstances, it must be owned was a little 
unreasonable, seeing how his own career began. 
Burckhardt also prides himself upon the fact 
that his ' mistery ' had never been communi- 
cated to any one. Joshua's advertisement in 
reply is as follows : 


' Jan. I2th, 1767. 

' Joshua Shudi, harpsichord maker, having 
offered his services to the nobility and gentry in 
a manner which he thought could not give the 
least offence to his uncle, to whom he has been 
a faithfull servant, and in quitting his service 
had an undoubted right to make use of his 
abilities for the support of himself and his 
family, finds himself attacked in a most un- 


Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

generous manner, and expressions made use of 
which have not the least foundation in truth. 
He is sorry to expose any one, but is compelled 
to speak of facts. His uncle did put him 
apprentice in the manner he describes, but he 
forgot to mention that he himself was brought 
up in the same manner. Harpsichord makers 
must be joiners, and is the comon course of 
our business. I wish he had joined a little more 
truth to his assertions, and then he would have 
said that after my long service, my steady 
application to business, and my care of his 
interest in every respect would have induced 
him to have kept his promise of taking me into 
partnership as a reward, which his own con- 
science must tell him I deserved, if he has any 
conscience at all. What I assert I am ready to 
give convincing proof of to any lady or gentle- 
man who will do me the honour to apply to me 
at my apartments at the Golden Guitar, in 
Silver Street, Golden Square. I have now by 
me harpsichords of my own making, which I 
shall be glad the best judges will make trial of, 
and desire no more favour than merit deserves. 

Shudi and his Apprentices 

Harpsichords repaired or finished, and as to 
tuning, even my uncle allows me capable. If 
he never comunicated his mistery, as he calls 
it, to any one, what figure will his apprentices 

The use of the word ' mistery ' by Burckhardt 
is interesting, and Joshua evidently does not 
quite understand it. The late A. J. Hipkins 
thought that the word was used in the sense of 
something occult or mysterious, and suggested 
that the secret which Burckhardt had never 
communicated was the art of tuning in equal 
temperament, the getting rid of the ' wolf ' 
at the end of the scale. This was already 
known and practised at the time, for Emanuel 
Bach expressed his preference for it. But the 
old method of tuning was carried on in pianos 
as late as 1846, and so long as Dr. Buck was 
organist, the organ in Norwich Cathedral was 
so tuned. Burckhardt, it will be noticed, 
correctly spells the word 'mistery/ In in- 
dentures the word came to be spelt ' mystery ' 
by confusion with the word with a different 


T'schudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

meaning. He means nothing more than his 
' mistere ' or ' metier,' his art and craft. So 
used the word had already become archaic, and 
Joshua apparently does not quite see its 

Joshua Shudi died in 1774, and a year after, 
in the Public Advertiser for i6th January 1775, 
is another advertisement : 


' Mary Shudi, of Berwick Street, St. James', 
widow of Joshua Shudi, nephew and disciple of 
the late celebrated Burkat Shudi, harpsichord 
maker, takes the liberty to inform the nobility, 
gentry, etc., that she has now by her, ready 
to be disposed of on reasonable terms, a great 
variety of exceeding fine toned single and double 
harpsichords. To be seen and tried at her 
house as above. N.B. Mary Shudi solicits 
the continuance of those favours the indulgent 
public were pleased to confer on her late 
husband ; and begs leave to assure them that 
any order they may be pleased to honour her 
with shall be pleasingly and carefully executed. 



Shudi and his Apprentices 

Instruments tuned in the most exact manner 
on the shortest notice. A genteel first floor to 
lett, with other conveniences/ 

The only harpsichord of Joshua Shudi's known 
is dated 1776. The widow, therefore, must have 
continued to use his name. 

One reads between the lines of Joshua's 
advertisement the sting of his remarks levelled 
at his uncle's apprentices, and the cause of his 
leaving Pulteney Street. Shudi had two sons, 
the elder of whom, Joshua, died in 1754 at the 
early age of eighteen. Burkat, the remaining 
son, was brought up in the business and carried 
on the name after his father's death, until the 
harpsichord had ceased to be used. Not long 
before the death of Joshua, the son of Burck- 
hardt, there came to the house a young Scots- 
man, born at Cockburnspath, who, as his 
countrymen are wont, came to London to seek 
his fortune. He was a cabinet-maker just out 
of his time, and if report be true walked to 
London with the proverbial half-crown in his 
pocket. However this may be he was a young 


'Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

man of genius and ability, who quickly rose in 
his trade, and obtained the prize which the 
nephew missed a partnership with the elder 
Shudi, afterwards continued with Burkat the 
son. He further fulfilled the conditions of an 
industrious apprentice by gaining the affections 
of Shudi's only daughter Barbara, to whom he 
was married in 1769. The same year was taken 
out the patent for the Venetian swell already 
referred to, ' so much admired by all lovers of 
Musick/ and not long after was made the fine 
double harpsichord in the writer's possession 
which is inscribed : ' Burkat Shudi et Johannes 
Broadwood, Londini, fecerunt 1770. No. 625.' 
It was made for Dr. David Hartley, after whom 
Hartley Coleridge was named, and was rescued 
from a stable near Newbury in 1881. Strangely 
enough a harpsichord made the following year, 
No. 639, bears the name of Burkat Shudi only. 

At her marriage Barbara, according to the 
custom of the time, started a housekeeping 
book. The entries in it belong principally to 
the short seven years of married life, and are 
mostly memoranda of personal matters mixed 


Shudi and his Apprentices 

up with some business details, showing a curious 
mingling of trade and home life, which reads 
strangely in our days. Barbara died in 1776, 
and the entries which are hers are the sole 
mementoes we have of this only daughter of 
Shudi and Catherine Wild. For this reason a 
few of them are worth quoting. The book 
begins with a list of clothes and housekeeping 
accounts of all sorts : A wax doll costs 2s. 6d., 
a pair of shoes 35. 8d., and a silk ' petecoate ' 
i, 33. The various commodities she bought 
were ' ryce, suggr, oyle, sellet, grins, fishe, 
sellery, catshep, etc/ Pork and veal were 5d. 
a lb., and so was backon ; tea, los. and 12s. a Ib. 
She makes a memorandum that her father has 
given her a ten-pound note, and then puts 
down ' Lady Campbell, Lady Manners, Duk of 
Argile/ which are orders for harpsichord- tuning. 
It appears also to have been her duty to record 
the various means of transport, and so she writes : 
' The Atherston waggon setts out from the 
Castle and Falcon, Aldergate Street, every 
Wednesday morning early. The Stafford 
waggon at do. every Tuesday morning. St. 


^ the Harpsichord Maker 

Neots wagg., Three Cups, Aldergate Street, 
every Saturday at 12 o'clock M. Northampton 
waggon, Windmill, St. John Street, Monday, 
W. F. (Wednesday, Friday), and Saturday, 
at 12 o'clock. Daventry and Northampton 
waggon, the George, Smithfield, W., Sat. 3. 
The Northampton waggon setts out from the 
Ram, Smithfield, Tuesday, and arives at 
Northampton on the Friday following, and setts 
out again on Friday and arives at Northampton 
Tuesday. The Stamford Hunts waggon goes 
from the Castle and Falcon, Aldergate Street, 
on Tuesday and Saturday morning at 10 o'clock, 
and from the White Harte, St. John's Street, 
on Tuesday, the goods to be taken the night 
before. Bungay, Suffolk, setts out from the 
Saracen's Head, Snow Hill, on Saturday even- 
ings. Worcester waggon setts out from the 
Bull and Mouth, Bull and Mouth Street, by 
Smith., on Tuesday evening/ 

The entries about her servants are fairly 
frequent : ' Ann Watson came to my service 
I3th February, 1769, agreed 5 wages and tea/ 
Later comes ' July 13 th, agreed for to raise Ann 


Shudi and his Apprentices 

Watson's wages to 6 per ann., and a guinea for 
tea and a half a crown per quarter for shoes.' 
' June I2th, 1771, Ann Watson for 6 months' 
wages due last April i3th, 3, do. for tea los. 6d., 
for cleaning of shoes, 53.' ' February i2th, 
1772, Ann Davis came to my service, agreed 6 
wages and her tea.' ' Ann Gibbard came to my 
service, agreed 8, and to find herself tea, a 
month's wages or a month's warning.' This is 
the first time that this occurs. The following 
October we find : ' received a quarter's wages, 
due September i8th, 2.' Ann Gibbard appears 
to have left on May 3rd, 1773, for we find ' reed, 
contents in full and all demands for 8 months' 
wages, 5,' and the signature ' Ann Gibbard/ 

Finally we have the record concerning Mar- 
garet Panzetta, who stayed from 1774 until 
after her mistress's death : ' Dec. 29th, 1774, 
Margaret Panzetta came to my service, agreed for 
the first year 6, ics. and to find herself tea.' 
On the 2ist January 1775 she is paid one guinea 
and two muslin handkerchiefs which are put 
down at 75. Then follows : ' received for one 
year and a quarter's wages 18 Nov. 1776 the sum 


, the Harpsichord Maker 

of 7, i8s. by me, Margaret! Panzetta.' The 
final entry is : ' received on the I7th Feb. 1777 
of John Broadwood the sum of 10, 6s. due to 
me for n months' servitude, Margaretta Matilda 

The book continues for a time after Barbara's 
death, and becomes increasingly a record of 
items paid. The small square pianos which had 
then become popular were carried home by a 
porter on his back, and the payments for such 
service are frequent. 




IT is not difficult to realise the life that Shudi 
led in Pulteney Street in the times of prosperity 
that set in at his removal there, which continued 
to his death in 1773, and were afterwards en- 
joyed by his son. But we must dismiss from 
our minds modern ideas concerning business, 
and rest assured that no social stigma was 
attached to the fact that Shudi was, after all, 
only a craftsman, nay, even a mechanic, who 
lived at his shop. Everything indicates that 
he mingled on equal terms with the famous 
people of his day. Handel was but the begin- 
ning of a number of musicians who sought his 
house and were welcome at his table. On 
taking one of Shudi's harpsichords to pieces 
it was found that the visiting-cards of those 
who had called at the ' Plume of Feathers ' 
had been used up to fill vacant spaces in the 


*Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

regulation where needed. The uncompromising, 
independent manner which was his hereditary 
gift followed him through life. It is said that 
he never made a harpsichord so long as he had 
one unsold, some colour to which is given by 
an entry on 2ist January 1773 : ' Dutches of 
Malbury bespoke a harpsichord/ There was 
no need for him to seek custom. It came as 
thick and fast as he could deal with it. No 
other serious competitor was in the field save 
Kirchmann, whose instruments were of a differ- 
ent calibre, and drew their own patrons. This 
restriction of his business was awkward some- 
times. An entry, ' Burkat's harpsichord sent 
on hire to Miss Chumley,' shows there was no 
available instrument in the showroom, not even 
' the Rooker ' or the ' little Ruker/ and so young 
Burkat's own harpsichord had to be sent from 
one of the private rooms. 

The ' Plume of Feathers ' was an ordinary 
four-storied house in a then fashionable street. 
Here the manufacture was carried on, new 
instruments were sold or old ones repaired, and 
in the midst of it all Shudi and his family led 

Shudi and his Matrons 

their domestic life, which was one of refinement 
and comparative ease. The front door, fur- 
nished with a ponderous knocker of the Queen 
Anne type, was kept closed. Immediately to 
the right as one entered was a little parlour with 
panelled walls. Over the fireplace were two 
recesses in the panelling, one of which contained 
a bevelled mirror in carved frame, and the other 
the much valued picture of Shudi tuning the 
harpsichord surrounded by his family. There 
was, of course, a grander room than this, where 
the group was posed by the painter. It will be 
noticed in the painting that three pictures hung 
on the wall behind the harpsichord. Two of 
these are portraits of Frederick, Prince of Wales, 
and the Princess Augusta. The middle picture, 
which is a landscape, is supposed to be a repre- 
sentation of Shudi's native valley in Glarus, but 
all these pictures are now no longer traceable. 
The showroom was probably the room on the 
left of the doorway. There was also most likely 
some extension of the premises at the back, 
where the much despised but necessary ' joinery ' 
was done. In the top lofts of the house the 

E 65 

^ the Harpsichord Maker 

writer himself discovered a store of crow-quills, 
carefully tied up in bundles, which must have 
lain there for some hundred years or so. The 
sweet tinkling sound of the harpsichord, being 
tuned constantly, filled the house. The phonetic 
spelling that is always used in the books recalls 
to us the speech of those who lived then. 
Such words to wit as ' pattant,' ' consort/ 
* reharsle,' ' qarter,' ' Malbury,' etc., all and 
many such which were pronounced as they 
were written. 

Any attempt at regular book-keeping does not 
begin before Barbara's marriage in 1769. Earlier 
books may have contained so much private 
matter that Shudi's descendants destroyed 
them. The extracts given, therefore, must be 
considered to belong to the closing years of the 
elder Shudi and to the years of the partnership 
of young Burkat with John Broadwood. The 
last royal commission executed by Shudi was 
a fine double harpsichord made for the Empress 
Maria Theresa in 1773, numbered 691. This 
instrument, fortunately, like the Prince of 
Wales's and Frederick the Great's harpsichord, 


Shudi and his 'Patrons 

is still in existence. It was obtained by Mr. 
Victor Mahillon in Vienna, and is now in the 
Conservatoire Royal at Brussels. The entry of 
its departure is made on 2Oth August 1773, 
the day after Shudi died, and reads simply : 
' Sent the Emperess' Harpsichord on board ship '; 
so prominent a figure in Europe need only to 
be described as ' The Empress/ Two years 
later, and probably as the result of this order, 
another harpsichord was sent to Vienna for 
Joseph Haydn, which is numbered 762, and is 
still preserved in that city as a valued relic of 
the great musician to whom it belonged. After 
Haydn's death it was Herbeck's, and is now in 
the Musickverein at Vienna. 

While being thankful that so many Shudi 
harpsichords remain to us, there are some 
that have quite disappeared, which we would 
give much to have with us. Perhaps none 
more so than the one referred to in an entry 
which reads as follows : 

' 1774, March 5. Mr. Dash wood and Gardine 
bought a harpsichord, No. 708, for Mr. Gains- 
borough, painter in the Circle Bath. 

^ the Harpsichord Maker 

' March n. Mr. Gainsborough's harpsichord 
was packed and sent to Bath.' 

' Mr. Gardine ' is, of course, Felice de Giardini, 
the famous Italian violinist, at this time leader 
of the Pantheon Concerts, and doubtless a fre- 
quent visitor at Pulteney Street. His friendship 
with Gainsborough, who painted his portrait, is 
well known, as well as the musical tastes of the 
painter himself. It is too much to hope that 
No. 708 has escaped destruction. As pianos 
came into use harpsichords were ruthlessly 
destroyed, and so completely has their memory 
passed away that modern writers take no pains 
to ascertain what instruments were used in the 
eighteenth century but call them all pianos. 
Gainsborough's harpsichord is a case in point. 
The above entry was discovered by the writer 
in 1 88 1, and was communicated correctly to 
several in the literary world at that time. 
Yet Mrs. Arthur Bell, in her Life of Gainsborough, 
simply says that he 'bought a piano in 1774'; 
and writing further, concerning Fischer's por- 
trait, says that he is 'seated at a piano/ of 
which Gainsborough gives the maker's name 


Shudi and his 'Patrons 

' Merlin.' This Merlin was a harpsichord-maker 
of the time, several of whose instruments still 

Gainsborough's rival, Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
was also a constant customer, particularly of 
the younger Shudi. He does not appear to 
have ever purchased a harpsichord, and probably 
would not require one continually. There are, 
however, several entries of harpsichords sent 
to him upon hire, no doubt for the use of the 
literary and artistic friends who met at his 
house. No address is given. Indeed very few 
London addresses of customers are quoted, it 
being understood that everybody knew where 
they lived. 

On yth January 1776 ' Mr. Moreland's new 
harpsichord was sent to Bedford Street. The 
number of the harpsichord 758.' This may have 
been the father of George Morland. In 1793, 
the year young Shudi ceased to make harpsi- 
chords, there is another record in connection 
with the artistic world : ' Taking a harpsichord 
to Mr. Bartolozzi, 207 Piccadilly (a print shop).' 

The charge for the hire of a harpsichord was 

, the Harpsichord Maker 

ios. 6d. per month. On the 25th November 
1771 we read : ' Lord Sandwich sent for a double 
harpsichord/ and on the 3rd December, ' Lord 
Sandwich sent y harpsichord home/ employ- 
ing his own conveyance. Harpsichord-tuning 
varied according to distance and perhaps ac- 
cording to the social position of the customer. 
Thus on 3ist July 1772 ' Miss Naville at Ipsom ' 
pays 53., but the ' Princess Amelia at Gunness- 
bury' pays i, is. 'Miss Seoan of Rigate/ 
ios. 6d., while ' Lady Chesterfield by y e Qarter ' 
pays i, is. for probably six or eight visits. On 
the 4th June 1773 the ' Prushian Embasander ' 
pays 45. for the tuning of a ' pianoforte/ which 
must have been a small square by a German 

After the death of the elder Shudi it was still 
not easy to obtain a new harpsichord, for on 
6th June 1774 'Mr. Robt. Palmer bespoke a 
harpsichord with a swell/ To enumerate all 
the nobility whose names occur in the books 
of this time would be a lengthy task. A few 
culled at random are the Duke of Queensberry, 
the Duke of Devonshire, the ' Dutchess ' of 


Sbudi and his ^Patrons 

Norfolk, the Earl of Sandwich, Earl of Ply- 
mouth, 'Dutchess of Ritchmond/ Lady Stover- 
dale, and Lady Pembroke. Some, such as 
' Lady Giddion ' and Lady Archer, have harpsi- 
chords ' for a consort/ The entries are mostly 
that of the name, only meaning tunings. Some- 
times weeks pass without a sale. Lady Stover- 
dale of Redlinch, near Bruton in Somerset, 
purchased on loth August 1775 a double 
harpsichord numbered 750, which it is hoped is 
still in existence, as it was for sale in a shop at 
the West End of London some twelve years ago. 
Occasionally one meets with a harpsichord in 
a special case. On 24th December 1774 ' Miss 
Skeine bought a octava harpsichord, Blew 
bordered, No. 710.' Also the last harpsichord 
made at Pulteney Street in March 1793 for 
Mr. Henry de la Maine of Cork is described as 
a ' Double keyed harpsichord with swell, etc., 
cross banded with sattin wood. Cypher in 
front, etc. 84.' 

The account of the Earl of Hopetoun contains 
an item of twenty-five guineas for eight and a 
half years' interest on an unpaid bill. 


) the Harpsichord Maker 

The entry that the ' Dutchess of Ritchmond ' 
had a ' new double harpsichord for hire instead of 
the Ruker' reminds us of the ultimate fate of 
the two Ruckers harpsichords so long used by 
Shudi as hack instruments. Neither of them 
fetched the good prices these instruments were 
supposed to command. But the grand piano 
had now become the rage, and the days of the 
harpsichord were over. Their last appearance 
is thus recorded : 

' I2th March 1790. Lord Camden for two 
harpsichords, the one a Ruker, double row, the 
other a Kirchmann, octava, 25 gs. each/ 

' I2th July 1792. Mr. Williams for a double 
keyed Rucker harpsichord, 26, 55.' 

The crowd of musicians whose names appear 
in the books in the two last decades of the 
eighteenth century belong properly to the early 
days of the grand pianoforte. They include 
every name of any importance, but it would be 
outside the scope of this work to dwell upon 
them. One of the most frequently quoted 
names is that of Dussek, for whom in 1794 the 
first grand pianoforte with six octaves is made. 


Shudi and his ^Patrons 

Joseph Haydn also is lodged in the same street 
at No. 18, nearly opposite. In the harpsichord 
days, however, professional engagements figure 
largely. Witness the following entries : 

' 20 Feb. 1772. A Reharsle of y e Oritorio. 

'5 March 1772. Sold Mr. Hullmandel a 
harpsichord made by Scouler for 25 Guineas. 

' 26 Feb. 1773. Sent Lord Grovenors harpsi- 
chord to Mr. Arnold's Oritorio. 

' March 3, 1773. Oritorio Drurie Lane. 
Oritorio Arnold/ 

(This was probably Dr. Arnold's Oratorio of 
the Prodigal Son produced this year.) 

' 6 March 1773. Oritorio. 

' 7 Thacht house. 

' 9 A Reharsle. 

' 13 Oritorio. 

' 14 Thacht house. 

'16 A Reharsle/ 

These entries indicate that for the frequent 
performances of oratorios and for the concerts 
at the Thatched House, which was the recog- 
nised concert-room previous to the opening 
of the Hanover Square rooms, harpsichords 


) the Harpsichord Maker 

remained permanently, and were only tuned for 
the various occasions. The rehearsals which 
are entered separately probably took place at 
Pulteney Street, and are noted only for the 
purpose of charging the tuning. 

Young dementi, it will be remembered, took 
a Shudi harpsichord with him to Paris, and also 
one of the small square pianos which were now 
being made in such numbers. As the result of 
this visit the following order was executed : 

' 23 Oct. 1784. Pascall Taskian. 

' 4 Pianos, one plain, 3 inlaid without stands, 
shipped to Paris/ 

Taskin of Paris was the famous harpsichord- 
maker to Marie Antoinette. 

It remains only to subjoin a list of the 
harpsichords by Shudi and Shudi and Broad- 
wood known still to exist. Additions to the 
list would be gladly welcomed. 

Number. Date. Number. Date. 

1729 750 1775 

144 762 1775 

229 1749 789 1776 

260 1751 862 1779 


Shudi and his ^Patrons 

Number. Date. Number. Date. 

407 1760 899 I78l 

427 1761 902 I78l 

1766 919 1782 

625 1770 955 1789 

639 1771 1137 1790 

686 1773 1148 1791 

691 1773 H55 1793 




IT is somewhat inexplicable that the art of 
painting was never in England allied with 
harpsichord-making. Even Tabel, direct from 
the house of Ruckers,made his instruments plain, 
and so did Kirchmann and Shudi, although the 
latter put fine cabinet-work in the exterior, 
especially about the middle of the eighteenth 
century, when the age of walnut was being 
merged into the age of mahogany. A judicious 
combination by him of both woods had a charm- 
ing effect. The large strap hinges of the top 
used by both makers were also very striking. 
But the writer cannot find a single instance 
of a harpsichord that was painted or decorated 
after the manner of the Flemish makers. With 
the early days of the grand piano, however, 
the fashion came in of decorating the exterior 
of the case with Wedgwood medallions, and 

of Don Manuel de Godoy 

in the year 1796 there was made by Shudi's 
son-in-law an instrument with this decoration, 
upon which no pains or cost were spared. Its 
historic interest and singular beauty, as well 
as the fact that it is still in existence, is sufficient 
excuse for closing this notice of Shudi's career 
with a brief description of one of the most 
costly instruments of the kind ever made in 
his house. This grand piano, of harpsichord 
shape, was made for Don Manuel de Godoy, 
the handsome guardsman, the favourite of 
Queen Maria Louisa, whom Charles iv. of Spain 
raised to the rank of Minister of Foreign Affairs. 
The year before the order for this piano was 
given, Godoy earned the title of Prince of the 
Peace by concluding the Treaty of Basle with 
the French republic, and two months after the 
piano reached the shores of Spain he signed the 
Treaty of San Ildefonso and declared war with 
England, initiating that series of disasters for 
his country which culminated at Trafalgar. 
It is most probable that Godoy was in London 
himself in the spring of 1796, for one of the 
decorations named is ' The Prince's portrait in 


) the Harpsichord Maker 

front by Taylor, 10, ios.' Alexander Taylor, 
the miniaturist, was an occasional exhibitor at 
the Royal Academy for twenty years, the last 
time he exhibited being in 1796. The price 
paid for the portrait is a high one, and Godoy 
no doubt sat for it. The piano was not for 
himself, however. Sheraton's own design for 
the instrument, of which more than one copy 
has been preserved, states it was presented by 
Godoy to the Queen of Spain. 

The order was taken on the 8th February 
1796, and is thus entered : 

' Prince of the Peace, 

Le Comte de Mopox el de Jarnico, 

Grenier's Hotel, Jermyn St. 
recommended by Mr. Christian, 22 College 
Hill, a G.P.F. add. keys C in basse to C in alt. 
in sattinwood case superbly ornamented with 
inlaid work and Wedgwood's and Tassie's 
medallions, etc.' 

It took four months to make, and was shipped 
on 22nd June 1796, and is thus described as 

' Mopox, 

' A G.P.F. add 1 , keys from C to C in 


T^iano of Don Manuel de Godoy 

sattinwood case superbly ornamented. A cover 
of green striped leather and stockings for the 
legs. A Green baize Cover and two quires of 
silver paper in two very strong deal cases, the 
frame in one and case in y 6 other marked 
C.D.S.C. No. i and 2. Delivered at the Bull, 
Porters Galley Key for the Esperanza, Belotte, 
The cost is fully set out as follows : 

The Count Mopox Grenier's Hotel. Dr. 
A Grand Pianoforte 6 octaves C to C, 

in sattinwood case ornamented with 

different woods with water gilt mould- 
ings and Wedgwood's and Tassie's -223 13 o 

medallions, etc., The Prince of Peace's 

arms chased and gilt in burnished 

gold rich carved frame, etc. 
The Prince's portrait in front by Taylor 10 10 o 
A Cover of green striped Leather and 

stockings for the legs 
A Green baize Cover 
A Deal case very stout for the Instr. . 

A do. do. 

Strings, forks, etc. 
Cartage to the Key 


















257 4 6 

) the Harpsichord Maker 

Sheraton's design for this instrument was 
preserved by the maker, but concerning the 
piano itself nothing was known until a few 
years ago, when a Parisian dealer in antiquities 
wrote to a lady in England, whom he knew to 
be a collector of things rare and curious, that he 
had a grand piano in satin and other woods 
made by John Broadwood in 1796 and covered 
with medallions. It was none other than Don 
Manuel de Godoy's present to the Queen of 
Spain, and it is now in a London drawing-room. 
Probably looted from Spain in the Napoleonic 
wars it remained unknown but well cared for 
during a number of years, most likely in some 
French chateau, until thrown upon the market 
and purchased by this Parisian dealer. It is in 
splendid preservation. The satinwood has 
mellowed with age, the keys are unworn, and 
the medallions perfect. As it stands it is a 
good illustration of the warfare between the 
designer, who wants to be artistic, and the 
manufacturer, who must obey the requirements 
of a musical instrument. Sheraton designed 
separate and unconnected legs for the piano. 


of Don Manuel de Godoy 

It was at a time when such a thing was not 
known, but the maker appears to have given in 
and abolished the frame and stretcher, although 
in the particulars concerning the packing he 
still speaks of the supports as ' the frame/ 
Sheraton did not make any provision for the 
pedals. These, had the older fashion been 
adhered to, should have been made to project 
from each front leg of the frame. They were 
made to depend from the body of the piano, 
and a third pedal added in the middle, perhaps 
in Spain, acts upon a pad which presses against 
the sounding-board, producing a sourdine effect. 
This arrangement spoils the general effect of 
the lower part, and was never contemplated in 
the original design. ' The Prince's portrait in 
front by Taylor,' alas, is no longer there, and its 
fate, needless to say, is not known! Perhaps 
Queen Maria Louisa removed it. Above the 
keyboard, surrounded by beautiful decorated 
work, is an oval> where it was usual to engross 
the maker's name and date. In this case the 
unusual course has been taken of inscribing the 
name on the rail covering the dampers. The 

F 81 

Tschudi, the Harpsichord Maker 

oval is now filled with a device, somewhat 
clumsily put on, which occupies the place where 
once was Taylor's miniature of the Prince of the 

Through the kindness of the owner a repre- 
sentation of this beautiful instrument is given. 
The compass of six octaves was then thought to 
be the last word, but it has gone on increasing ; 
and owing to its increase and the heavier con- 
struction and greater size which more modern 
tastes demanded, the beautiful form and pro- 
portions of the harpsichord and harpsichord- 
shaped pianos have gone for ever. 

Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press 



Dale, William 
424 Tschudi