During a visit in 1492 when Emperor Maxemilian in Strasbourg, reported a Venetian ambassador "... He let the pipes simultaneously resound with the strings or he only played the pipes. Then he sat down again and it sounded just the strings. With this sweet exchange he took the interests of all caught and all were paralyzed with pleasure and outraged ... ".




127 years later Paul Wissmayer in Nuremberg built a hexagonal Virginal in Italian design to a chest organ from Stefan Cuntz and took the two instruments to a two-manual Claviorganum together. Unfortunately, this instrument is only the cover of the virginal condition, on the inside the whole Claviorganum is detained in a painting.




These two from the concept of producing sound forth as different instruments tolerate not only next to each other, they complement each sound so good that they-as already noticed in 1492, may be coupled with a convincing effect. From the Renaissance, the first notes and instruments originate. As with any tool, there were times of prosperity and times where it almost forgotten. But his track leads up in the romance (Liszt) and present (JN David) where composers and musicians could build Claviorganen. In the Archbishop's Treasury Salzburg one of the few surviving instruments can be visited and occasionally to hear. The charm and the quality of Claviorganums lie in the opportunities that arise from the sound juxtaposition and blending of the two instruments.

The Theewes Claviorgan, London, England, 1579 made by Theewes, Lodewyk, V & A Museum, London, British Galleries, room 57a, case 1, © V&A Images

The Claviorganum may be regarded as a positive organ with the special additional register Spinetto. The special registers are so common in organ building - think of chimes, Vogelsang or Tremulant; the harpsichord sound, however, is much more frequently used than the above special registers. The organ literature is betrachet can learn through the harpsichord sound enrichment and vice versa. A church musician, often formed on both instruments will know welcome in any case, and to use the possible combinations. From this perspective, the Claviorganum the ideal continuo instrument for small or larger ensembles. As a continuo instrument, it may, for example, in an oratorio by the same player as positive organ, harpsichord or coupled. This results in new, surprising possibilities for players and concert goers. Genuine his sound stimulus shows both solo pieces of the Renaissance, Baroque, as of modernity are to bring their diverse soundscapes well to lecture and distinctive combinations win a lot of expressiveness.

Text: Copyright © 2008 Michael Scheer

Claviorganum List


compiled by Dr. Stuart Frankel


1547. Inventory of the estate of Henry VIII of England. 5 instruments combining "virginals" (which meant any kind of harpsichord-like instrument) and "regals."


second half of 16th century. South German. C/E (short octave)-c3. Spinet 1x4'. Organ: Gedeckt 4', Flote 2', Zimbel I, Regal 8', Regal 4.


1579. Lodewijk Theeuwes or Theewes (or Tyves or Teeus). Originally from Antwerp, but working in London. Single-manual harpsichord C-c3, 2x8' 1x4' buff. The organ has no low C#. Original disposition perhaps: Stopped diapason 8', Principal 4', Twelfth (treble only), Fifteenth 2', Regal 8'. The organ keyboard was divided; it is not known where.


[1585 Berlotti. Spurious; see 1677.]


1591. Josua Pock. Innsbruck. (Square) virginal 1x8' C/E (short octave)-f3. Organ: Stopped flute 4', Regal 8' (regal goes only to a'). Organ keyboard is divided between d' and d'#.'


1598. Laurentium Hauslaib. Nuremberg. C/E (short octave)-g2, a2. Spinet 1x4'. Organ: Gedeckt 4', Flute 2, Principal 1, Regal 4'.


1600s. Anon. French. Two-manual harpsichord upper: 1x8', lower 1x8' 1x4'. Organ had 3 stops, disposition unknown.


1600s. Anon. Italian. "Organization" of an Annibale del Rossi spinet of 1555. Disposition unknown.


1619. Paul Wissmayer (spinet) and Stefan Cuntz (organ). Nuremberg. C/E (short octave)-f3. Spinet presumably 1x8', organ had 6 stops. Only the lid survives; it has a painting showing the instrument.


1639. Valentin Zeiss. Linz. C/E (short octave)-c3, with a pedalboard C/E-g' coupled to the organ only. Harpsichord 2x8'. Organ 8' 4' 2'.


1646. Valentin Zeiss. Linz. Harpsichord 1x8', lute (close-plucking nasal). No pedalboard. Organ 2' principal; other stops unknown.


1677. Gottlob W. S. Cut. Venice. Harpsichord now GG/BB-c' (short octave), originally C/E-f3 (this is a normal rebuild for Italian harpsichords in the 17th century); 1x8' 1x4. Organ Gedeckt 8' wood, Quinte 5-1/3' wood, Principal 4' metal. Formerly attributed to Berlotti, 1585, on the basis of a nameboard which was originally from another instrument. Cut probably added the organ to an existing harpsichord (but not the one indicated by the nameboard).


Late 1600s. Addition of a set of 8' wooden Gedeckt pipes to a two-manual harpsichord of Jean-Antoine Vaudry.


1712. Herman Willenbrook. Hanover. C,D-c3. Single-manual harpsichord 2x8', 1x4'. Organ: Gedeckt 8' wood.


1745. John Crang. London. 2-manual harpsichord, FF,GG-f3. Upper: 1x8, lute; Lower: 2x8 (dogleg?) 1x4. Organ not original; now: Stopped diapason 8', Flute 4', Flute 2', 15th 2', Mixture, Cornet. The original 4' and 2' stops may have been an octave lower.


1745. Jacob Kirkman (harpsichord) and John Snetzler (organ). London. Single (lower) manual harpsichord; FF,GG-f3, 2x8' 1x4' lute. Upper manual organ: Stopped diapason 8', Open diapason (treble only) 8', Flute 4', Fifteenth 2', Mixture II.


1758. Pieter Assendelft. Leiden. Advertized claviorgana for sale. Details unknown. He may or may not have made them himself.


ca. 1765. V. von Blaha. Prague. Claviorganum maker; details unknown.


1764. Michael and Johann Wagner. Schmiedefeld, Germany. A harpsichord (disposition unknown) combined with a flute stop.


1766-78. François Bédos de Celles describes fitting a 2-manual harpsichord (usually, upper: 1x8' buff; lower: 1x8' 1x4'; coupler) to an organ with registers divided between c'# and d': Bourdon 8', Ouvert 8' (treble only), Prestant 4', Basson 8' (bass only), Hautbois 8' (treble only).


1780. Robert Waffington. London. Single-manual upright harpsichord ("clavicytherium") FF,GG-f3. Original specification unknown (it was converted into a bookcase). Organ 2 stops, a diapason and a flute, details unknown.

Text: Copyright ©Dr. Stuart Frankel

siehe auch:


The Claviorganum in England by Stephen Wessel 

 © The English Harpsichord Magazine Vol. 1 No8 Apr 1977



Das Claviorganum des Josua Pock (1591).

Ein bemerkenswerter Fund aus der Salzburger ,,Kunst- und Wunderkammer"

von Prof. Dr.Gerhard Croll





Compiled by Eleanor Smith and Terence Charlston



Rekonstruktion von

Malcolm Rose – Harpsichord Maker

mit Links u.a. zur Geschichte des Instruments

und mit verschiedene Einspielung u.a. mit James Johnstone,

Tim Roberts und Gustav Leonhardt.