This clavichord was made to impress. It is built from the finest and most expensive materials, which were imported from all over the world: ivory, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell and Brazilian rosewood and kingwood. The extravagant decoration includes Chinese motifs known as chinoiserie, an exotic style highly sought after in 18th-century Europe.This instrument is a fine example of a large German clavichord in which each key has its own course of strings. The bass end of the instrument has a 4’ register to give extra power to the lowest notes. The decoration is unusually sumptuous: the exterior is laquered in red, black and gold with chinoiserie; theinterior is decorated with olive-wood and rosewood veneers; and the keyboard is covered with tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, with ivory key arcades. (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: Unfretted clavichord. 61 notes F₁ - F₆ (FF - f'''). Two sets of 8-ft strings, with a third set of 4-ft string (F₁-B₂). The note name is written beside each alternate tuning pin, with the gauge numbers for each note beside the second pin.
String lengths: F₆ 103, C₆ 140, F₅ 211, C₅ 285, F₄ 426, C₄ 569, F₃ 838, C₃ 1023, F₂ 1215, C₂ 1323, F₁ 1473.
Signature: Written in pen and ink on the treble part of the sound-board between the 8-ft bridge and the 8-ft tuning pins "J.A. Hass Hambg Anno 1763".
Decoration: The outside of the lid and case have a silver-coloured chinoiserie decoration on a vermilion ground. The inside of the case is veneered with olive wood and kingwood. The toolbox lid is finely decorated with incised mother of pearl and tortoise shell; the incised decoration is filled with red vermilion paint. The lid painting is a rural scene with houses, a river with boats, and figures in a neo-Chinese style, all surrounded with a silver-coloured chinoiserie border. The soundboard is decorated with large flowers, painted in a rather stiff and slightly naive style, almost certainly by the same decorator who painted the 1764 harpsichord in the Raymond Russell Collection also by Johann Adolph Hass.
Pitch: Instrument tuned to A = 407 Hz, Werkmeister 1/III temperment.
Repair History: The present stand is not original and probably dates from the early part of the twentieth century. Restrung by John Raymond in 1998.
Technical drawing available from the Friends of St Cecilia's Hall. Please see http://www.stceciliasfriends.org.uk/
Bought by Raymond Russell in 1956.; Gift of Mrs Gilbert Russell, 1964.