Harpischords are remarkable instruments. Built by craftsmen for more than 500 years, they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours, and sound qualities.
Nowadays, modern music lovers everywhere in the world are getting to know more and more of the rich music that was composed for this instrument, and their appreciation for the men and women who keep the tradition alive is growing.
Unfortunately, the harpsichord still tends to be marginalized by an attitude that often relegates it to an antiquated history.
Our documentary project, Harpsichordia, will presents different facets of this instrument which is indubitably growing in popularity and artistic quality.
We will explore the emergence of the harpsichord in the 16th century, and follow its evolution until its decline in the late 18th century. Viewers will be treated to visual and aural displays featuring the artistry of the most prominent historical builders, who first created these instruments, as well as the rich repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries – a repertoire that is of such high quality that it has been, and is still today, often played and adapted for other instruments, most notably the piano.
This musical history will also be put in context, given that historical events such as the French Revolution and the growing popularity of the piano had a great deal of influence on the near-extinction of the harpsichord.
In the early 20th century, the harpsichord was reborn in a complete new form, before builders and musicians began trying to understand and build new copies of the original instruments. We will follow this rediscovery and its significance in the early years of the era of recorded sound, looking at the pioneers of modern harpsichord construction and musical research, and the first recording stars.
The ensuing generations of performers, scholars, and builders elaborated on those early efforts and brought the entire genre to standards and popularity unknown since the 18th century.
Musicians now have the possibility to make harpsichord playing their profession.
Harpsichordia will present these players, including some of the younger generations, and explore how they view their career and passion.
The documentary will also feature the Bruges International Harpsichord Competition, which has been an important gathering for all generations of players and builders since the 1960s. For young professionals, it is still today a means to solidify their emerging career on a scene that is growing both in popularity and in technical and musical quality.