School of Music, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UNITED KINGDOM.
The twentieth-century harpsichord has an unusual history: coming out of oblivion at the end of the nineteenth century, it was given a new lease of life, but at the same time acquired a mistaken identity.
This thesis examines, from the perspective of the harpsichordist, the two types of harpsichord prominent in the musical mainstream in the twentieth century, and specific pieces written for both between 1960 and 1990. The two types of instrument under discussion are (1) the modern pedal harpsichord modelled after the instrument tailor-made for Wanda Lartdowska and (2) the historical instrument which emerged and proliferated in the latter part of the twentieth century.
In particular it focuses on the two different types of music composed for the two instruments, starting with Maurice Ohana's Carillons pour les heures du jour et de la nuit (1960), written for the modern pedal harpsichord, through Gyorgy Ligeti's Continuum (1968), also written for the pedal instrument, to two ensemble pieces including the historical harpsichord: Chiel Meijering's n'Dame scheert haar benen (1981) for harpsichord and guitar, Ton Bruynes Schrootsonate (1990) for harpsichord and soundtracks, and Iannis Xenakis's Khoaï, for the modern pedal instrument. Finally, it examines Elliott Carter's Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Piano with Two Chamber Orchestras (1961), the most elaborate harpsichord work to date.
The detailed analyses encompass a flexible but consistent methodology, drawing on the experience of the performer to elucidate the different ways different composers have related to the different characteristics of the two types of harpsichord.
The thesis concludes by summarising the development of harpsichord repertoire from 1960, making inferences from the foregoing discussion, and commenting on the possibility of continuing development of harpsichord repertoire in the twentieth-first century.