Harpsichords Travel Through Time And Around the World In New Picture Book
Even with just a few notes, the harpsichord’s distinctive twang can take you back to the days when J.S. Bach was jamming out on the instrument like a rock star at Zimmermann’s Coffee House in Leipzig.
Thanks to a charming new children’s picture book and audio play by one of the world’s foremost harpsichordists, children can now experience that kind of time-travel adventure and hear great music, see the world and take part in five hundred years of history all at once.
The Harpsichord Diaries: A Musical Journey (Horse & Buggy Press) is a collaboration of harpsichordist Elaine Funaro and her twin children, Eric Love and Andrea Love, who together tell the story of a girl’s magical adventure back in time and through the ages, coming face-to-face with four globetrotting harpsichords along the way.
Just about any kid who has ever tried to play the piano may see a kindred spirit in the book’s protagonist. On a visit with her grandmother, Elena sits down to play the harpsichord, but quickly becomes discouraged by the challenge of playing the instrument.
She storms upstairs to the attic in a fit of frustration and finds an old leather-bound book called The Harpsichord Diaries. When Elena opens the book, it takes her to Windsor, London, Paris and New York City to meet four famous harpsichords.
The harpsichords Elena meets in The Harpsichord Diaries are inspired by instruments that have counted as some of Funaro’s own musical companions. Virginia Virginal is an Italian Virginal built by the Connecticut-based Zuckermann Harpsichords and the instrument that accompanied Funaro on a trip to China.
Henrick Hammer, made by the Flemish harpsichord builder Joop Klinkhamer, has appeared on a number of Funaro’s recordings. Funaro has been performing with the Boston-made Thomas Taskin harpsichord for more than four decades – and even hand painted the instrument.
Finally, Kenneth King, made by the South Carolina-based harpsichord maker Richard Kingston, was a video star long before The Harpsichord Diaries went to press. Here is Andrea Love’s animated documentary, Birth of a Harpsichord, about the creation of Kenneth King:
On her journeys to meet these instruments, Elena also sees hot spots like Westminster Abbey and Carnegie Hall. She has a chance to observe moments in the lives of historic personages like Hélène de Montgeroult, the aristocratic French composer whose music purportedly saved her from perishing during the Reign of Terror, and the great English composer and organist Henry Purcell. And Elena witnesses the moment at which the harpsichord’s career is forever changed by the arrival of the modern piano.
Elena’s Dream, an audio play version of The Harpsichord Diaries, appears on the accompanying CD. The professionally voiced narrative is punctuated with the unique sounds of the harpsichords in the story and fun sound effects, like the barking of Grandma’s dog, Giles. Pop the disc into a car CD player, or download the audio play free of charge and play it from your mobile device, and you’re set for a car trip.
Listen to Elena's Dream here:
I’m sure the book’s world-traveling harpsichords have already packed their bags for their next trip – maybe one to the foot of your Christmas tree.