Clavichord


“It is said that C. P. E. Bach played it in an inimitable manner and that he preferred it to the harpsichord. Mozart and Haydn each owned one. The clavichord is, quite simply, unique and different, which should suffice to protect it and justify its presence today. Its dimensions call for small halls where it cultivates confidence, the ear thus sharpens, perception becomes keen, this world of the infinitely delicate opens on to the infinitely great”.

Journal de Genève (Switzerland), Daniel Robellaz

Beginning with Sebastian Virdung in his treatise Musica Getutscht published in 1511, and continuing for the next three centuries, theorist and mentors insisted on the importance of the clavichord as fundamental for the study of keyboard technique. As late as the early nineteenth century Beethoven affirmed that it was on this instrument that one could best judge the musicality of a performer. Thanks to its extremely precise and direct mechanism, the clavichord allows a unique control of the sound quality and presents unequalled expressive possibilities.

Since the early 1970’s, Bernard Brauchli has devoted himself to the revival of the clavichord, performing, lecturing, publishing, recording and teaching on both the American and European continents. His appearances have generated numerous centres of interest, culminating in the establishment of a bi-annual, international clavichord symposium which he and Christopher Hogwood first established in 1993 in Magnano, Italy.

Performing on a variety of clavichords, which represent the various stages of development of the instrument, Bernard Brauchli presents historically informed interpretations of keyboard music spanning more than three centuries.

Copy of a fretted Klavichord , Italien, unsigniert, End XVII. Jahrhundert [C/E-c’”], (Gary Blaise, San Francisco, U.S.A.)

Lecture - Recitals


The History of the Clavichord

A general introduction to the history of the clavichord, illustrated with music performed on four instruments from different periods in the clavichord’s evolution.

Instruments:

    • Copy of an anonymous Italian clavichord, circa 1540 (Museum of the Karl Marx University, Leipzig)
    • Copy of a south-German fretted clavichord circa 1680 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
    • Copy of a fretted clavichord by C. G. Hubert, 1782 (Historisches Museum, Basle)
    • Original unfretted German clavichord by E. Heyne, 1781

Duration: 80 mn. (20 mn. lecture + 60 mn. music)

The Clavichord in the Musical and Social Life of the XVth to XVIIIth Centuries

A brief history of the clavichord followed by a description of the musical and social role it played in the various countries of Europe. Documents from literary sources and slides.

Instrument:

    • Copy of an 18th-century clavichord.

Duration: 75 mn. (60 mn. lecture + 15 mn. music)

A History of the Clavichord and its Evolution as seen through Iconographical Documents

A one-hour slide presentation of nearly all the iconographical documentation depicting the clavichord that is known to date.

Recitals


Reviews


“The performance of the six sonatas which Brauchli selected were absolutely marvellous, glistening with delicate nuances, rhythmically supple and free, with interpretative effects always carefully gauged to the maximum that the music will allow but no more. His use of vibrato in the slow movements (the clavichord alone among keyboard instruments permits such an effect) was always discreet and always underlined something in the music that benefited from emphasis, and the tone itself, which, from unskilled hands, can be a pitiful, tinny moan, was far more pungent than one might have expected and rich with a hundred hues between soft and softer.”

Boston Globe (U.S.A.), David St. George

“There was something deeply moving about the concentrated silence of the audience in the cavernous church, listening to his delicate sounds. Brauchli projected an amazingly subtle variety in the music, including echo effects and playful articulations.”

Express (San Francisco, U.S.A.)

“The artist, as much at ease and clear in his lecturing as in his playing, captivated the public. In little time one was able to admire the charm, the nuances and the expression of the clavichord, especially when this music is played with the mastery, delicacy and warm enthusiasm of Bernard Brauchli.”

24 Heures (Lausanne, Switzerland), George Creux

“Brauchli is not only a knowledgeable musicologist. He is a stupendous musician who illustrated his talk with admirable interpretations of a series of works of great value which he knew how to express with immense talent and musical finesse.”

Heraldo de Aragón (Zaragoza, Spain), J. Aranda

“Bernard Brauchli knows how to speak with simplicity and to play with refinement. Out of modesty, he hides the difficulties that this Pandora’s box can pose for a performer. I was seduced like the romantic poet who wrote that “the clavichord breathes as sweetly as my heart”.”

24 Heures (Lausanne, Switzerland),
Jean-Jacques Huber