Clavichord, Arnold Dolmetsch, London, 1894


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Bought for the RCM by Sir George Grove from Arnold Dolmetsch in 1894 for use by piano students.


This instrument, from the period when Dolmetsch adhered to 18th-century models, is the second of a group of six large five-octave clavichords he built between 1894–97. The basic design and layout – including the size of the case, the shape of the 8ft bridge and the presence of the bass 4ft strings – are all derived from the FF–f3 clavichords built in Hamburg during the 1760s. Indeed, the presence of Dolmetsch’s signature on a clavichord built by Johann Hass in 1763 strongly suggests that this was the instrument he copied whilst it was in his workshop for restoration. The varnish, wood finish and style of strapwork hinges are, however, more in keeping with the Arts & Crafts style of furniture design. This clavichord is ‘unfretted’, with a separate course of strings for each note. As the tangent defines the sounding length of the strings, in fretted instruments two or three notes are played from some courses.


gift from Grove, George