> I've seen this reference before, and had some difficulty reconciling it
> with what I know of the Zumpe squares. These are tiny novelty instruments
> no larger than a small clavichord . . .
This is an indication of how very far away we STILL are from
understanding the musical reality of the late 18th century. We jump
straight from the harpsichord to the fully-developed flugel fortepiano,
and then react with disbelieve when confronted with the reality of the
gradual transition. We also forget that the majority of musical events
then were quite intimate. We overlook, or worse yet, look down our noses
at a vast range of instrument types, including tangentenflugels and
other such "novelty" instruments, because they don't jive with our idea
of what a musical instrument is, or what a "performance" is.
A puzzler indeed. How can one of America's leading "Early Music"
recording experts make such a statement? This is because we're still not
yet performing the music of Mozart, C.P.E. and other early Classical
composers on appropriate instruments. Instead we get mini-Steinway
turbo-charged fortepiano "copies", like in Brautigam's recent Haydn
releases, and we think this is "authentic". No wonder we are incapable
of comprehending the truth.
Try reading some of the literature of the time, Joseph, like Müller's
Fortepiano Schule or Nachersberg's Clavier Stimmbuch - then you'll
realize that such a piano was no "novelty", but a very serious musical instrument.
> and from what I've seen are not
> particularly viable as musical instruments. For one thing, the only sustain
> function is controlled by two hand levers (treble and bass).
Yes, just like the MIR1098 Walter fortepiano (flugel, not tafel) - a
lovely instrument, dated by Latcham at around 1785-90, probably the only
early Walter still in original condition. And just like many others
which originally only hand hand stops but had knee levers cobbled in at
some later date. Notably Mozart's, which still has it's hand levers.
Exactly when the pedals were added, we don't know. But it could well
have been after Mozart died, which is probably when Walter himself
rebuilt the action to it's present state (a fact about which there is
very little doubt). Again, we simply can't conceive of a piano without
"sustain" - i.e., a damper pedal. This is _our_ problem, and has nothing
to do with the historical reality. We can either accept the evidence,
and try to learn what the surviving instruments have to tell us, or,
like Eva Badura Skoda in her recent response to Latcham's Walter article
in Early Music, flatly reject it because it doesn't agree with our 20th
(21st, now) century ideas. Which approach is more "authentic"?
> I have no data
> in front of me, but I know that Zumpe manufactured hundreds if not
> thousands of these, and I believe that got under way early in the 1760s,
> which would suggest there was already some vogue for the new pft in Britain
Yes, and there were thousands of them produced in Germany as well.
For all our progress in the original instrument movement, there's still
lots of work to be done. Are we up for it?