Early Keyboard Bibliography

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† denotes highly recommended titles

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Early keyboard bookshelf 57K jpeg

I guess in any field there are the classic texts that are so frequently referred to, that they really belong on every enthusiast’s shelf. For the harpsichordist interested in exploring the background of his instrument, these titles might include Hubbard’s famous Three Centuries, Russell’s The Harpsichord and Clavichord and the controversial The Modern Harpsichord by Zuckermann.

But three books are really only the beginning of any library—and the latter two are well out of print. There’s a good number of interesting texts on early keyboard instruments dating back more than a century, including many obscure and rare museum publications if you can find them.

It is easier collecting books as they come out, so take heart that in the past few years we’ve seen an absolute literature explosion, with recently published works like Kottick’s History of the Harpsichord filling a void, and the long-awaited contribution on harpsichord decoration by Sheridan Germann to Volume IV of The Historical Harpsichord series (although sadly with only black & white pictures).

Remember that we are dealing with a small community of specialized readers, and respect that publishers are in the book business to have the majority of the titles in their catalogs run out of print: To have too many copies available from the publisher years after publication could show poor business sense, or at least lack of market estimation. O’Brien’s detailed monograph on Ruckers appears constantly in demand, the hardback print run having sold out. Fortunately, it has recently been reprinted as a paperback.

On these Bibliography pages, you can find details of many interesting works, organized into categories on the drop-down menu below. Some books may appear on more than page. I am occasionally taken to task by authors who do not see their own work appearing here: This is not a snub. While these pages may appear comprehensive, I’m really only able to include print titles which are in my own library, not those which might only be available as eBooks without a printed and bound option.

For those in the hallowed portals of academia, please don’t take offence that the format adopted here is not strictly scholarly, but as one who has searched for particular books for years, I trust it provides more useful information with the language, publisher, and ISBN mentioned. All the books have been categorized, and you can use the menu below to find those in topics that interest you. In addition, foreign (or multiple) language titles also appear on their individual foreign pages which you can access from the buttons above, or at the top of each page.

An even wider spread of information could probably be found in a bibliography of journal articles rather than just books. But that will have to wait for another day…

Quick Bibliography index:

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