Apart from his instruments, very little is known about the Italian harpsichord builder Giovanni Baptista Giusti. From inscriptions on instruments by his hand that survived we know that he was born at Lucca, that he lived at Ferrara in 1679 and that he built harpsichords between the years 1676 and 1693. During his lifetime harpsichord building in Italy went through an interesting phase: the usual standard compass of C⁄E – c”‘ was enlarged and ever more instruments were built with a false inner outer case.
The example I have chosen for my Italian harpsichord is now in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC (USA). The instrument was not signed but comparative investigation of mouldings and other characteristics proves this harpsichord to have been built in Giusti’s workshop. The original instrument has a true inner outer case, I build mine with an false inner outer case. The compass is GG.AA – c”‘, which I enlarge to d”‘. The disposition is 2 x 8’.
With its powerful treble and resonant bass, its dry but flexible tone and rich sound it is ideal for the colourful Italian music. It is also very suitable as a continuo instrument.
The case is made of spruce, cypress and lime, with a soundboard of fir. The strings are in brass.
Dimensions: 240 x 90 x 22 cm.
Girolamo Frescobaldi, Toccata settima, played by Pieter-Jan Belder
Domenico Scarlatti, Sonate K. 158, played by Pieter-Jan Belder
Domenico Scarlatti, Sonate K. 159, played by Pieter-Jan Belder