Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Pedal Harpsichord

Maker:
John Challis (American, South Lyon, Michigan 1907–1974 New York City)
Date:
1967
Geography:
New York, New York, United States
Medium:
Wood, metal, various materials
Dimensions:
Overall: 113 x 139.7 x 301 cm (44 1/2 x 55 x 118 1/2 in.) Harpsichord: 87 x 104.1 x 245.6 cm (34 1/4 x 41 x 96 11/16 in.) Pedal Unit: 26 x 139.7 x 301 cm (10 1/4 x 55 x 118 1/2 in.)
Classification:
Chordophone-Zither-plucked-harpsichord
Credit Line:
Purchase, Murtogh D. Guinness Bequest, 2003
Accession Number:
2003.377a, b
Not on view
Pedal harpsichords were used in the time of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), primarily as practice instruments for organists. The instrument included, in addition to the standard manual keyboards, an independent harpsichord operated by a pedal-board similar to an organ. No early pedal harpsichords survive.

Born in South Lyon, Michigan, John Challis was American's first native-born harpsichord maker. After apprenticing with Arnold Dolmetsch in England in 1926-30, he returned to the United States and set up shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, later moving to New York City. In 1960, organist E. Power Biggs approached Challis to construct a pedal harpsichord. Building upon years of research and experimentation, Challis produced a highly ambitious instrument similar to this one. Biggs, impressed with the results, used the instrument in a group of highly acclaimed recordings of organ works. Seven years later this more complex and decorative instrument was made at the request of Canadian organist Gordon Jeffery. Both instruments incorporated state-of-the-art construction techniques such as a lightweight (35 lb.) cast aluminum frame, a soundboard of honeycombed aluminum, and mechanical parts of a variety of metals and synthetic materials. Such innovations made the instruments extremely stable compared to traditionally constructed instruments, which need frequent tunings.

This instrument's 13 stops include sixteen-, eight- (x2), and four-foot choirs on the lower manual, eight- and four-foot choirs on the upper manual, and sixteen-, eight-, four-, and two-foot choirs on the pedal. There are lute stops on the upper, lower, and pedal eight-foot choirs. The enclosed pedal division features a Venetian swell. Stops are controlled by pedals, and handstops are also supplied for the manual keyboards. There are no couplers.
Marking: The maker's name, John Challis, is embossed and gilded on the nameboard of the two-manual harpsichord as well as on the pedal division.

Stamped on metal wrest plank "67-300".
Gordon Jeffery
Anthony Newman in J. S. Bach: Works for pedal harpsichord and organ. CD. Recording., Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2004.



Related Objects

Square Piano

Artist: Robert Nunns (British, (active United States) 1791–1869) Date: 1853 Medium: Rosewood, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, abalone, felt, metal, paint, gilding Accession: 06.1312 On view in:Gallery 736

Guitar

Artist: Christian Frederick Martin (Markneukirchen, Saxony 1796–1873 Nazareth, Pennsylvania) Date: ca. 1838 Medium: Wood, maple, spruce, abalone, ebony, metal, brass, ivory Accession: 1979.380a, b On view in:Not on view

Mandolin

Artist: Angelo Mannello (American, Morcone, Italy 1858–1922 New York) Date: ca. 1900 Medium: Spruce, tortoiseshell, ivory, nickel-silver, metal, Accession: 1972.111.1a-c On view in:Not on view

Appalachian Dulcimer

Artist: Billy Reed Hampton (American, Dongola, Kentucky b. 1940) Date: 1982 Medium: Sassafras, poplar, metal Accession: 1982.240 On view in:Not on view

Concert Zither

Date: ca. 1890 Medium: Wood, metal mounts Accession: 2002.227 On view in:Not on view