New addition to the collection of historical musical instruments


Clavichord, Joris Potvlieghe, Tollembeek (BE), 2002, after Phlipp Jacob Specken, (Stockholm?), 1743

1 Feb. 2023

The Alamire Foundation welcomes a renowned clavichord to its growing collection of historical musical instruments.

Whereas on a harpsichord the string is plucked by a plectrum, on the clavichord it is struck by a metal plate, the tangent, which makes for a more intimate sound production. This instrument is an unbound clavichord, meaning that there is one tangent or key per string–unlike the bound variant, where some strings are struck by multiple keys. 

Our new acquisition is a replica of a Philipp Jacob Specken (1690-1762) instrument. The original from 1743 is preserved in the Scenkonstmuseet in Stockholm. Specken learned his trade in Dresden and is said to have worked with Gottfried Silbermann for a time before moving to Sweden, where he was appointed Royal Instrument Builder until 1745. He mainly built clavichords and harpsichords. You can listen to a short audio clip of the original instrument on the Scenkonstmuseet website.

In 2002, Flemish builder Joris Potvlieghe meticulously measured Specken’s instrument, held in the museum under inventory number 2625. For his replica he used no less than five types of wood: walnut, spruce, oak, lime, and boxwood. The clavichord was acquired by the Alamire Foundation from the collection of Jos van Immerseel. It has been used in concert by András Schiff and Gustav Leonhardt. Recently, András Schiff performed on the instrument for a beautiful recording of music by J.S. Bach.