Clagget, Charles (DNB00)

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CLAGGET, CHARLES (1740?–1820?), musician, a native of Waterford, was about 1766 leader of the band at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. Ten years later he was in London, where he patented (7 Dec.) the earliest of the numerous inventions which made his name famous. This was an ingenious, if impracticable, system of constructing the finger-boards of violins and other stringed instruments, whereby the patentee claimed that it would be almost impossible to play out of tune. On 16 Aug. 1788, Clagget patented: 1, a new instrument called the teliochordon; 2, a new method of constructing the keys of keyed instruments; 3, a method of preserving the tone of strings by protecting them with a parchment covering; 4, the construction of glass or enamelled keys; 5, a celestina stop in which the tone was produced by the scraping of silk strings; 6, 'uniting two French horns in such a manner that the mouthpiece may be applied to either of them instantaneously as the music may require;' 7, newly constructed tuning-forks; 8, an instrument consisting of a number of tuning-forks mounted on sound-boxes and set in vibration by keys; 9, a new kind of tuning-key; 10, a better method of fitting the sound-post of a violin to its place.

About this time Clagget settled at No. 16, Greek Street, Soho, where he opened a 'musical museum,' in which he exhibited and sold his various inventions. He constructed a 'teliochordon' stop for the royal harpsichord, which was delivered (as he informed the public in a long description of this 'harmonizer of musical instruments,' as he calls it) at Buckingham Palace on 17 Dec. 1790. About 1791 he exhibited his musical instruments at the Hanover Square Rooms. In the following year Haydn, who was then in London, called at Greek Street and examined Clagget's inventions, as to the value of which he testified in a letter which appeared in the 'Morning Herald' for 27 Apnl. On 31 Oct. 1793 he gave what he called an 'attic concert' at the King*s Arms, Comhill, at which was delivered a 'discourse on musick,' which was published with a portrait of Clagget. After 1795 Clagget's name disappears from 'Kent's Directory,' and no further trace of him is found; he is said to have died in 1820. Clagget wrote a few songs, and published an account of his musical inventions. About 1760 there were two 'Messrs. Clagget,' who published violin and guitar music in Edinburgh, and a little later there lived in Great Hart Street, Covent Garden, a musician named Walter Clagget, who was a performer on the violoncello and viol da gamba, and published some music for stringed instruments and harpsichord. It is possible that these musicians were related to Charles Clagget, but biographical details of them are very meagre.

[Grove's Dict. of Music, i.; Abridgments of Specifications relating to Patents for Musical Instruments, 1694-1866, 11, 21; Clagget's Description of the Teliochordon Stop; Pohl's Mozart und Haydn in London, i. 52, ii. 194; Baptie's Musical Biography; Brit. Mus. Music Cat; Cat. of the Boyar Coll. of Music.]

W. B. S.