A Keyboard by any Name Sounds as Sweet

closeup of piano keys

Because I was a still very young, I chafed at the appropriation of harpsichord music by pianists—especially since I was studying harpsichord—and it seemed rather obvious to me that one ought to perform music on the instrument for which it was composed. This was the bedrock assumption of the “original instrument” school of “authentic” performance practice, which was just beginning to go mainstream at the time and which today dominates the field of Baroque music performance. What I’ve learned since then, however, is that the whole subject is far more complex than it first seemed to me.

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Piano Men

When you love something as much as I love the sound of the harpsichord, it’s easy to slip into the invalid assumption that everyone else would love it too, if they were only familiar with it. But that notion took a knocking about five years ago when I was going to lunch in a car with several of my 20-something colleagues at Ravinia. I had just acquired the most spectacular-sounding recording of Bach’s Concerto for Four Harpsichords, and I put it in the car stereo to treat my coworkers to that glorious sound. But within 15 seconds of the start of

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