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Steven Sorli began his harpsichord making career in 1971 as an apprentice of the famous Boston harpsichord maker, Frank Hubbard. He quickly became skilled in all facets of the craft and was especially gifted in the art of decoration. Steven set up his own workshop to design, make and adorn harpsichords individually from scratch. His construction process relies on intuition and ingenuity to ensure a serviceable and singular work of art. The sound qualities achieved by Mr. Sorli are often described as having a distinctive antique tone. Innate artistic abilities contribute to a tasteful blend of color and form that add a complimentary balance to the tonal shades. In 1982 he was awarded a craftsman's fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Over 90 instruments have left his workshop and are scattered throughout the United States and abroad.

At the turn of the century, Mr. Sorli began designing many models of the lute-harpsichord or lautenwerk. There are many words and spellings of this instrument including lautenwerke, lautenwerck, lautenclavicymbel and theorbenflugel (theorbo-harpsichord). An example of the plural form is lautenwerke or lautenwerken. This type of instrument was originally fitted with gut strings and sounds very much like a lute or nylon-strung guitar. The response to this revival of the lautenwerck has been quite positive.

Sacchi Painting
"Marcantonio Pasqualini Crowned by Apollo"

Mr. Sorli is the first harpsichord maker to resurrect the keyed lyre or clavicytherium with an open lyre. This upright instrument is inspired by the oil painting "Marcantonio Pasqualini Crowned by Apollo" by Andrea Sacchi (1641). It has one choir of 8' gut or synthetic gut strings with a range ofGG-d3. The total height is 81" and takes up only a 37" by 18" floor space. The sound from the small soundboard just above the keyboard was frequently described as "magical" at the Boston Early Music Festival. The sound has a sweet, hollow, vocal quality that radiates out from both sides of the soundboard when the back lid is open. This instrument resembles a lute and harp in sound and is amazingly versatile. Place your order early for one of the musical sensations of the century. Recent owners of the Sorli clavicytherium are Peter Sykes, Sopranos Julianne Baird and Molly Netter, Mark Shuldiner, Margaret Irwin-Brandon, the Conservatoire de Musique de Geneve and Cristina Banegas of Uruguay. Listen this unique sound in the "Sound Samples" page.

Gut-Strung Clavicytherium

In 2020 a non-vertical version of the clavicytherium was designed - the Keyed Lyre with a chorus octave stop. The chorus adds 4', 8' and 16' strings where they are needed most to create rich harmonics similar to a chorus mixture stop on a pipe organ. The sound blooms into a room like an organ with a vibrant, penetrating clarity. A compact table-top version is also available as well as a small double-strung ottavino with a powerful sound. Check out the Price List and Sound Samples pages for more details.

Also available is a pedal board clavicytherium suitable for practice or performance. This original design stands behind the bench and player with a trestle stand in front to support any style or size harpsichord. This is the only pedal harpsichord which provides the player with a perfect stereo balance of volume between the manual and pedal instruments.

The standard decor includes brown mallee key tops with carved key fronts, stained and varnished case, intricate parchment rose, elegantly turned legs and music desk. All finishes are made from organically grown plant oils and resins. Also included are regulating tools and a padded moving cover.

Boston 2013
Clavicytheria at the Boston Early Music Festival 2013

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