Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/206

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194

��RUCKERS.

��back. This box ultimately became Rimbault's ; the piano was sold at Coding's sale by Christie & Manson in 1857.

It was this intimate combination of the deco- rative arts with music that led to the clavecin and clavichord makers of Antwerp becoming members of the artists' guild of St. Luke in that city. They were enrolled in the first instance as painters or sculptors. We must however go farther back than Hans Ruckers and his sons to truly estimate their position and services as cla- vecin makers. For this retrospect the pamphlet of the Chevalier Le'on de Burbure ' Recherches eur les Facteurs de Clavecins et les Luthiers d'Anvers' (Brussels, 1863), supplies valuable in- formation. We learn that at the end of the I5th and beginning of the i6th centuries, precisely as in England and Scotland at the same period, the clavichord was in greater vogue than the clavecin ; possibly because clavecins were then always long, and the oblong clavichord recom- mended itself as more convenient and cheap for ordinary use ; just as is now the case with grand and upright pianos. But about the year 1500 the clavecin had been made in the clavichord shape in Venice, and called Spinet. [See SPINET.] This new form must have soon travelled to the Low Countries, and have superseded the Clavi- chord, as it did in England and France about the same epoch.

A clavecin maker named Josse Carest was admitted in 1523 to the St. Luke's guild as a sculptor and painter of clavichords (literally ' Joos Kerrest, clavecordmaker, snyt en scildert'). 1 Another Carest had been accepted in 1519 as an apprentice painter of clavecins (' Goosen Kareest? schilder en Klavecimbelmaker, gheleert by Peeter Mathys'). This is an earlier instance of the name Clavecin than that quoted by M. de Burbure as the oldest he had found in Belgium, viz. a house in the parish of Notre Dame, Ant- werp, which, in 1532, bore the sign of 'de Clavi- zimbele.' No doubt at that time both clavecins and clavichords were in use in Antwerp, but in a few years we hear of the latter no more ; and the clavecin soon became so important that, in 1557, Josse Carest headed a petition of the cla- vecin-makers to be admitted to the privileges of the guild as such, and not, in a side way, merely as painters and sculptors of their instruments. Their prayer was granted, and the ten peti- tioners were exempted from the production of ' masterworks,' but their pupils and all who were to come after them 2 were bound to exhibit masterworks, being clavecins, oblong or with bent sides (' viercante oft gehoecte clavisimbale,' square or grand as we should say), of five feet long or more ; made in the workshops of master experts, of whom two were annually elected; and to have the mark, design, or scutcheon, proper to each maker (syn eygen marck, teecken,

1 See ' De Liggeren en andere Historische Archieven der Antwerp- sche Sint Lucasgilde.' Kombouts en Van Lerius. 2 vols. Baggermaii, Antwerp; Nijhoff, The Hague.

2 Later on, tuners also became members of the guild. For instance, Michel Colyns, Claversingelstelder, in 1631-2 ; who was however the soa of a member.

��RUCKERS.

oft wapene), that is, a recognised trade-mark on each instrument. We will give these trade marks of the members of the Ruckers family from sketches kindly supplied by M. Abel Re- gibo, of Renaix in Belgium ; three, belonging to Hans and his two sons, having been already published by M. Edmond Vander Straeten in his monumental work 'La Musique aux Pays Bas,' vol. iii. (Brussels, i87s). 3 It is at once evident that such regulations tended to sound work. The trade-marks we have more particu- larly described under ROSE. They were usually made of lead, gilt, and were conspicuous in the soundholes of the instruments.

Some of the cotemporary Italian keyboard- instruments might be taken to give a general idea of what the Antwerp ones were like prior to the improvements of Hans Ruckers the elder. In the preparation of the soundboards the notion of the soundchest of LUTE and PSALTERY pre- vailed. Ruckers adhered to this principle, but being a tuner and perhaps a builder of organs, he turned to the organ as a type for an improved clavecin, and while holding fast to timbre as the chief excellence and end of musical instrument making, introduced different tone-colours, and combined them after organ analogies and by organ contrivances of added keyboards and re- gisters. The octave stop had been already copied in the little octave spinets which Prsetorius tells us were commonly used to reinforce the tone of larger instruments, but the merit of Hans Ruckers, traditionally attributed to him, and never gainsaid, was his placing the octave as a fixture in the long clavecin, boldly attaching the strings to hitchpins on the soundboard (strength- ened beneath for the purpose), and by the addi- tion of another keyboard, also a fixture, thus establishing a model which remained dominant for large instruments until the end of the clavecin manufacture. 4

An interesting chapter is devoted to the Ruck- ers family by M. Edmond Vander Straeten in the work already referred to (vol. iii. p. 325 etc.) He has gathered up the few documentary no- tices of the members of it discovered by MM. Rombouts and Van Lerius, by M. Genard and by M. Le'on de Burbure, with some other facts that complete all that is known about them.

The name Ruckers, variously spelt Rukers, Rueckers, Ruyckers, Ruekaers, Rieckers, and Rikaert, is really a contraction or corruption of the Flemish Ruckaerts or Ryckaertszoon, equi- valent to the English Richardson. Hans the elder was certainly of Flemish origin, being the son of Francis Ruckers of Mechlin. He can hardly have been born later than 1555. Married at Notre Dame (the cathedral), Antwerp, June 2 5> 1575. as Hans Ruckaerts, to Naenken Cnaeps, he was admitted as Hans Ruyckers, ' clavisinbal- makerre,' to the Lucas guild in 1579. It; a P' pears strange that he was not enrolled a citizen

3 Burney refers to these marks when writing about the Kuckers.

4 The end of the manufacture for Antwerp is chronicled by M. de Burbure in one seen by him-he does not say whether single or double made by a blind man, and inscribed -Joannes Heinemaa me fecit A 1795, Antwerp!*.'

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