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The Golden Age of Flemish Harpsichord Making (gagnant du prix Nicholas Bessaraboff 2019)

VANDERVELLEN P. (sous dir.), The Golden Age of Flemish Harpsichord Making: a Study of the MIM's Ruckers Instruments, Bruxelles, 2017, 420 p.

(texte uniquement en anglais)

Among the great names in the history of harpsichord making, that of the Ruckers is probably the most famous. This dynasty of makers, represented by four generations active in Antwerp between c.1580 and c.1680, exerted a predominant influence in Western Europe. Their harpsichords and virginals, synonyms of extraordinary workmanship, acquired a tremendous reputation that extended beyond European borders and lasted until well after their active period. The envy they inspired was such that it gave rise to large-scale counterfeiting, probably the most significant in the field of instrument making up to then. 

The MIM owns eighteen instruments considered at the time of their acquisition to be made in the Ruckers workshop. Given the considerable patrimonial interest of this collection, a project centred on its conservation, study, restoration and enhancement was set up. The Golden Age of Flemish Harpsichord Making: a Study of the MIM's Ruckers Instruments sums up this fascinating research and sheds new light on this outstanding heritage. 

This survey is directed by Pascale Vandervellen, curator of the stringed keyboard instruments of the mim. 

She obtained a Master's Degree in Musicology in 1988 and a PhD in History of Art and Archeology from Paris IV/ La Sorbonne University and Brussels University in 2007 with a thesis concerning Belgian piano makers. She has worked in the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM), Brussels since 1995 and is currently in charge of the keyboard instruments. She has conducted extensive research and published numerous books and articles in this field. The qualities of Pascale Vandervellen's research have been rewarded twice by the Académie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, first in 1991 and again in 2009.

Le 18 juin dernier, le livre a remporté le prix Nicholas Bessaraboff 2019, délivré par l'American Musical Instrument Society!

This collective effort of scholarship represents the culmination of sustained, original, wide-ranging research into the work and instruments of the Ruckers dynasty. Beautifully produced, generously illustrated and thoughtfully organized and presented, this  volume stands out both for the depth and breadth of material presented. Detailed, extended catalogue entries on each of the Ruckers instruments held in the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels are complemented by insightful contextual essays that illuminate the world of harpsichord making, consumption and performance in the Low Countries and the representation of Ruckers instruments in paintings. The results of a range of scientific investigative techniques including dendrochronology, acoustics and materials analysis are lucidly interpreted and deployed to shed further light on this remarkable group of instruments. In bringing together and orchestrating their diverse expertise, the authors and collaborators have produced an impressive work where individual contributions amplify each other to create a cohesive whole that is more than the sum of its parts. All are to be commended for a significant and authoritative contribution to organological literature. (2019 Bessaraboff Award Committee)

Le livre est disponible au museumshop ou peut être commandé ici

List of Ruckers instruments in 16th and 17th century paintings

Prix: 59€