Title

Harpsichord Lessons for the Beginner—à la Isolde Ahlgrimm

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

2007

Abstract

Book description:

Isolde Ahlgrimm (1914-1995) was an important pioneer in the revival of Baroque and Classical keyboard instruments in her native city, Vienna, and later, throughout Europe and the United States. Ahlgrimm's performances of Baroque music represented a radical departure from the distinctly twentieth-century interpretations by the much more famous Wanda Landowska and her followers. Most obviously, Ahlgrimm's harpsichord performances eliminated frequent registration changes (her instrument had hand stops rather than pedals to change registers), and largely eschewed the massive ritardandi and other anachronistic performance practices that were hallmarks of Landowska's essentially Romantic style. Her approach to the performance of eighteenth-century music was later further developed by Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and their students. Peter Watchorn provides an engaging study of this pioneer, and argues that Isolde Ahlgrimm's contribution to the harpsichord and fortepiano revival was pivotal, and that her use of period instruments and the inspiration she instilled in younger musicians has been almost entirely overlooked by the wider musical world.

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