When Johann Adolph Hass produced this harpsichord in the 18th century it was covered in hand-painted decoration, just like the other beautiful instruments for which his family was known. Hass’s original embellishments were hidden behind wood veneer in the 1930s. We’re not sure why. Perhaps the owner wanted to conceal some damage, or craft a modern look.This is one of about seven surviving harpsichords made by the Hass family who also made organs and clavichords. The veneer on the exterior of the case and the fluted legs is modern, but most of the interior is original. It is believed, according to a former owner, to have been played by Mozart. (Raymond Russell Collection).
Johann Hass was born into a family of keyboard instrument makers. His father was a noted keyboard instrument maker. The Hass family worked in Hamburg and are one of the most important names in harpsichord building. Details of the family are sketchy but there are several surviving instruments from them which shows there importance in German instrument building. They were also extremely inventive and incorporated several unusual expressive elements into their instrument. ‘Hasse in Hamburg’ was also noted by the eighteenth century German organist, music historian and theorist Jakob Adlung. It is not known when Johann was born but he flourished between 1740 and 1775.
Technical description: Single-manual German harpsichord. Compass 61 notes, F₁ - F₆ [FF - f''']. Three registers 2 × 8-ft, 1 × 4-ft. Buff stop on the back register.
String lengths (plucking points): F₆ 141 (77), C₆ 185 (86), F₅ 271 (100), C₅ 362 (100), F₄ 532 (125), C₄ 694 (135), F₃ 974 (150), C₃ 1183 (161) F₂ 1480 (176), C₂ 1673 (187), F₁ 1817 (203).
Signature/Marks: Inscribed on soundboard "J.A. HASS HAMBG ANNO 1764".
Decoration: Rosewood veneer on the keyblocks and most of the interior is original. The lid, six fluted legs, and rosewood veneer in herringbone pattern on the outside of the case are modern. The soundboard is decorated with painted flowers.
Repair History: Extensively restored by Erard in 1935; restored by John Barnes in 1971.
bought by Raymond Russell in 1955 from Miss Mary Dunne, California who owned it from 1937 to 1955; formerly owned by members of Six family, of Amsterdam; before that owned by grandfather of C.J.|Rheinhold of Amsterdam; according to the latter, at one time played by W.A.|Mozart.; Gift of Mrs Gilbert Russell, 1964.