Famous Harpsichord Music
Well Known Music for The Harpsichord
I’ll include a youtube link for you to reference, unless there were no recording of the composition available.
Great composers for the harpsichord - there are so many misconceptions and stereotypes about different fields of studies, its so wonder the truth gets a word in edgewise on anything sometimes - anything - literature, philosophy, arts, science - you name it! Well, the harpsichord is such a case, because, unless you’re somewhat knowledgeable about history and music, you may not know when you’re listening to true harpsichord music vs. harpsichord music played on the piano?...
For starters, lets get one thing perfectly clear, Bach only wrote music for the harpsichord and clavichord.., not the piano.... Although Bach was friends with the inventor of the piano, he did not care much for the instrument when it was first introduced to him; furthermore, the piano was still underway when Bach died in 1750, so even if he felt that the instrument had potential, it was not until around 1760 that the piano was finally perfected (Even if the piano back then did not sound like the pianos of today....) However, today, Bach’s music gets performed almost exclusively at the piano..... So much so, that unless you’re knowledgeable about music, you oftentimes won’t know what instrument the composition you’re listening to should be played on (see comment in the first paragraph of this article..)
Throughout the Baroque Period, the harpsichord carried the same weight with composers and the public as did the piano throughout the Romantic Period....
Domenico Scarlatti 1685 - 1767
Was one of the greatest composers of the Baroque Period, as well as one of the giants of keyboard (harpsichord and clavichord) music. He was the son of Alessandro Scarlatti, another brilliant musician of the Baroque Period. Scarlatti wrote over 500 compositions for solo harpsichord, making him quite prolific. He developed the sonata allegro form (although his concept of musical structure was quite elementary...), ultimately paving the way for giants such as Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin and Liszt. Furthermore, Horowitz enjoyed the music of Scarlatti very much and oftentimes played some of his harpsichord sonatas in his recitals.
Here are some notable compositions by Scarlatti:
Sonata in D minor K. 9., Sonata in E major K. 20., Sonata in B minor K. 27
Francois Couperin 1668 - 1733
Typically, Baroque Music is divided between the French and Italians. Although German composers were starting to make their way into the world during the Baroque period, this period was mostly dominated by French and Italian musicians, who were also by far the majority of composers at that time (although the greatest composers of that period were arguably Germans: Bach, Handel and Telemann). Couperin was a representative of the French Baroque and is one of the giants of this period. Couperin came from a very talented French musical family of great performers and composers, but he was the most gifted, as well as the most famous of all his kin....
Couperin wrote a lot of music for the harpsichord and here is one of his many compositions:
Johann Sebastian Bach 1685 - 1750
One poignant note: Today, Bach is considered the greatest composer of the Baroque Period, as well as one of the 3-4 greatest composers that has ever lived; nevertheless, when Bach was around, he was of little consequence as a composer and was mostly known as a great harpsichordist and organist...
Bach wrote lots of music for the harpsichord, but the preludes are his most famous - here is the most famous of the set performed by Ton Koopman - gorgeous recording:
Prelude No. 1 in C from “Well Tempered Clavier”
There is much harpsichord music to be discovered... If you’re interested in this now obscure instrument, then search ‘youtube’ for performances and recordings as there are plenty out there....
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