A harpsichordist is a person who plays the harpsichord.
Many baroque composers played the harpsichord, including Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, George Frideric Handel, François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau. At this time, it was common for such musicians also to play the organ, and all keyboard instruments, and to direct orchestral music while playing continuo on the instrument.
Modern harpsichord playing can be roughly divided into three eras, beginning with the career of the influential reviver of the instrument, Wanda Landowska. At this stage of the 'harpsichord revival', players generally used harpsichords of a heavy, piano-influenced type made by makers such as Pleyel; the revival of the instrument also led some composers to write specifically for the instrument, often on the request of Landowska. An influential later group of English players using post-Pleyel instruments by Thomas Goff and the Goble family included George Malcolm and Thurston Dart.
The next generation of harpsichordists were pioneers of modern performance on instruments built according to the authentic practices of the earlier period, following the research of such scholar-builders as Frank Hubbard and William Dowd. This generation of performers included such players as Ralph Kirkpatrick, Igor Kipnis, and Gustav Leonhardt. More recently, many outstanding harpsichordists have appeared, such as Trevor Pinnock, Kenneth Gilbert, Christopher Hogwood, Jos van Immerseel, Ton Koopman, David Schrader and Alexander Frey, with many of them also directing a baroque orchestra from the instrument.
- Palmer, Larry (1989) Harpsichord in America: A Twentieth Century Revival, Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-32710-9. Contains detailed information on several American harpsichordists.
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