Voices from the 17th Century: Andreas Ruckers Harpsichord Speaks

10

August
2010

Original harpsichords often have inscriptions on the inside of their lids. Take, for  example, a Flemish instrument built in 1651 by Andreas Ruckers the Elder (in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The lid has two: MUSICA DONUM DEI (“Music is a gift from God”) and SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI (“So passes earthly glory”).

Yet the most interesting inscription is usually the builder’s signature, regularly found just above the keyboard (or as part of the rosette on the sound board). The traditional way builders word the signature strikes me as unusual because it’s as if the instrument speaks directly to us.

This is true for the Ruckers harpsichord mentioned and pictured above.

ANDREAS RUCKERS ME FECIT ANTVERPIAE 1651

“Andreas Ruckers made me at Antwerp, 1651”

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