It was an “expressive” double-manual, incorporating many of the traditional French/Flemish characteristics, but with some modern materials, like Delrin plastic for the plectra.
It was a kit, but Grandfather says you have to know something about kits: Some of them are not much more than a sketch, a log and an adze.
This one was better than that, but Grandfather says he’s entitled to point out it took more than Lego-building to fashion its parts, glue it together and regulate it. Among other things, he had to teach himself how to apply J.S.Bach’s equal-tempered tuning to it. (Grandfather says: “There’s no such thing as teachers. Only students”)
The harpsichord was used as continuo for several performances of Handel’s Messiah, in several churches at Christmastime, over the years.
The Greenbrier Hotel — Really uptown! My goodness! — used it for a wedding once; they also used it for several wine and cheese tastings.
Its final performance was as continuo for Bach’s fifth Brandenburg Concerto, performed by the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra in Lewisburg’s Carnegie Hall. That’s right; Lewisburg, West Virginia. (Maybe one day Grandfather will tell us how that came about.)
The cadenza was played by a music professor from Hollins College in Roanoke; Grandfather says remembrance of that cadenza ringing through the hall is one of the glories in his mind.
Delrin has a life of about twenty years, whereupon it gets brittle.
Grandfather says he can’t see well enough to replace and shave tiny replacement plectra, and he can’t hear well enough to tune it anymore, so the harpsichord sits derelict now, awaiting its savior — if there is one in what Charlie Chaplin called “modern times.”
About the Author: RD Blakeslee is a nonagenarian in West Virginia who built his net worth by only investing in that which can be enjoyed during acquisition and throughout life, as opposed to papers in a drawer, like stocks and bonds. You can read more about him here. This article was originally published on 21 December 2017.
Original oil painting by: Grandfather’s wife