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Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Flemish Single-Manual Harpsichord from Zuckermann kit (used).

This little single was professionally built in the early 1970's by Louis Van Leeuwen, then working in Mendham, New Jersey. He has since retired and moved back to his native Holland. Compass is five octaves C-e''' (54 notes), and it is in the historically correct disposition of 1x 8' and 1 x 4' with buff.

This was a professional's gigging instrument for nearly 30 years and it has many, many weddings under its belt. It is sturdy and transports well, fairly small so it fits in a mini van and even some larger sedans or SUV's, especially if the back seat fold flat. The stand is three screw-in legs --- fast set up and knock down. Included is a specially-made folding auto carrier on wheels. The wheel apparatus collapses and folds out of the way for loading into your van or station wagon, similar to the gurney that ambulance drivers use.

It does have the 'real' harpsichord touch and action, and while it's not a French double it is immensely easier to tune and maintain. Added bonus: at this price you won't have a heart attack if it gets bumped while being moved between the music room and the auditorium.

The keyboard is cherry with black wood sharps. The soundboard painting was done by a professional artist who adapted New Jersey native wildflowers to a traditional Flemish decoration style and layout. The owner apologizes for the dust, his son took these pictures before he had a chance to dust it. He has subsequently polished it up and reports that it looks much better now than in the photo. This instrument hasn't been played since the death of its owner about 3 1/2 years ago, her husband is moving to a smaller place now and he'd really like to see this instrument go to someone who will play it. It doesn't show in the photo, but it does have a traditional Latin motto, "Musica laetitiae comes medicina dolorum", which is, Music is the companion of joy and the medicine of sorrow.

If you are in the New Jersey area you could arrange to see this instrument in person. If not, we will be in New Jersey at the end of May/ beginning of June and we'll stop in then to see this instrument, tune it and replace its broken string, take some more pictures and maybe get a sound sample. Speaking of tuning, a Korg WT-12 electronic tuner is included as well as a tuning wrench and a supply of wire and spare parts.

 

Some ideal situations for this instrument:

  • a beginning or intermediate harpsichord student who needs a first instrument
  • a private piano teacher or conservatory that would like to offer harpsichord lessons
  • a pianist/organist who would like to branch out into harpsichord
  • a small dance band or string quartet that would like to add harpsichord continuo and perhaps the odd solo.
  • a teacher who would like to have an instrument to rent out to beginning students who do not yet have their own harpsichord
  • as an additional practice instrument in a school or institution that already has a harpsichord
  • an elementary, junior or high school music department that has or would like to have a baroque ensemble -- and every school should have one!
  • a professional harpsichordist who would like to have a small, sturdy gigging instrument.
  • a touring/itinerant orchestra, dance or opera company -- this instrument already has a couple thousand miles on it. The Vancouver-based Pacific Baroque Orchestra tours with a similar Zuckermann Flemish single.

 

A bit about this Zuckermann Flemish design. This is *not* a Z-box! The Zuckermann Flemish Single was the first of the historical, or at any rate, historically-informed, copies that were introduced to the Zuckermann line of kits under the direction of David Way. In its design and construction it is fairly close to its Flemsih ancestors. The case is probably plywood, (nope, only the lid and bottom -- see the update below) which the original Flemish were certainly not, but even at that, 1960's plywood is a a much better quality than what is generally available today. It's not clear whether the soundboard on this instrument is plywood or spruce, we will check that out when we visit it.

Update --we received this information from the builder, Louis van Leeuwen:

Jim,
I read all the info on www.claviersbaroques.com. and was rather surprised to see my "handyworks" on screen!

Plywood (birch) parts: mainly the bottom and lid sections.
All other parts are basswood, poplar (outer case), beech (bridges & nuts), oak (wrestplank) and maple.
The soundboard is spruce.
Generally speaking: the lumber used, approximates the materials of the early builders.

The spruce soundboard is a great bonus as is the poplar outer case. Use of these materials results *much* nicer sound than plywood and generally louder, too. Solid wood is more durable than plywood, too, so your instrument will last longer, and it is much lighter, a great advantage when you are moving your harpsichord. These are quite decent little instruments, we know a number of them. Here are two, one in a private home, the other in a university here in Toronto. If the colour of doesn't suit you, you could always paint it -- after 30 years that paint has paid its dues. The pink and green one below is Arabelle, she was originally a dowdy pistachio green. The reddish one is a red-stained walnut or similar natural wood finish (veneer), the tassels in the register shifters through the cheek are a traditional Flemish touch.

 

this e-mail from the owner--

Dawn,

Here are the photos. I had trouble locating the file with the 2 pictures of the harpsichord. Finally found the name of the file. Very nice talking with you. Hope we can sell the harpsichord to someone that will really enjoy it. It has given us lots of beautiful musical memories.

Jim C.

Price: asking $5,485 CAD / $4,000 USD / £ 2,235 GBP / € 3,295 / $ 45,600 MXN / ¥ 435,275 JPY plus shipping from New Jersey and applicable taxes & duties. Qualifies as duty-free in the US, Canada and Mexico under NAFTA. Interested? E-mail Claviers Baroques or give us a call toll-free in North America at 1-888-597-0946.

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