The Samuel Maetz Clavichord
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On April 12th 2005, Edmund Handy, the British restoration expert, began work in Sighisoara on the Samuel Maetz clavichord. Until now it had lain broken on the second floor of the Sighisoara Museum in Transylvania. Handy used the museum’s laboratory during the two weeks set aside for the work, and had brought all the tools and most of the materials needed from England.
The clavichord is unsigned and undated, but documents given to the museum with the instrument in the 1920’s indicate that it is the work of the Saxon-Transylvanian musician and organ builder, Samuel Maetz of Biertan. It has a case made of local oak, and a compass of five octaves (FF–f 3). Unusually for a five-octave clavichord, it is diatonically fretted, with the D’s and A’s free. It is thought to date from c. 1825.
The restoration was carried out in line with the highest modern standards. As far as possible original parts of the instrument were not to be replaced unless absolutely essential and only appropriate materials used. Natural glues and polishes as well as felts and cloths of the type used in the instrument’s original construction were used. New wire strings of historically correct specification were fitted, including 24 covered bass strings individually made to pattern. Professor Turck, the harpsichord and organ teacher from the Music Academy in Cluj, visited the laboratory with some of his Romanian students and all took great pleasure in being able to watch the work in progress .
In the above photograph Handy can be seen putting the last of the new strings on the clavichord. Subsequently the listing cloth was fitted and the instrument roughly tuned to pitch. All that remained at this stage were adjustments to the action and some work on the exterior casework.
Samuel Maetz was born in Hosman village in 1760 and spent most of his life in Biertan (with one year abroad). During his time in Sighisoara, Edmund Handy took the opportunity to visit Hosman to see the Maetz organ of which there are a number of other examples in the area.
Having completed the main body of the clavichord, Handy played a Bach sonata producing, in his words, "...a beautiful tone". Repairs were also completed on the legs, the lid and a new prop stick was made.
On April 21st Edmund Handy emailed us "...Today I finished the work on the clavichord and played a couple of pieces for some of the museum staff. I played a prelude in C by JS Bach, and a folk melody from Transylvania that Zoltan Kodaly heard in the early 20th century. It is probably the first time that it has been played on a clavichord. It wasn't possible to organise any sort of semi-formal recital because the museum had a new exhibition opening. However, this did mean that TV and press turned up and were very excited about the clavichord. There is so much to tell you and I am sad to be leaving Sighisoara; all the people have been so wonderful".
A clavichord concert took place on 20th August in Sighisoara at Turnul cu Ceas with Erich Turk playing the clavichord, Melinda Beres on the violin (with Baroque bow) and Ciprian Campean on a Baroque cello, both from Cluj. They played very softly so as not to 'cover' the weak sound of the clavichord. Both other instruments had silencer. The musician gave an encore with the last part of the marvellous Schmelzer's sonata.
Another concert took place on 17th September in the village of Biertan where Samuel Maetz spent much of his life. William Howard, who had been performing in Bucharest at the George Enescu Festival, joined Edmund Handy, playing Bach preludes and fugues. The concert also included pieces by Dietrich Buxtehude, William Byrd, Antonio Soler, Johann Sebastian Bach, Herbert Howells, David Hewson and six Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók.
The Trust is most grateful to The Prodan Romanian Cultural Foundation for their grant which enabled this work to be carried out.
An article on the clavichord can be found in The British Clavichord Society Newsletter Issue No 31.
Crafts & Industry
The traditionally agrarian Saxon villages have no history of large-scale industry.
There is however a long tradition of craftsmanship: the Saxons are famous for weaving, lace-making, embroidery and wood-carving and the Roma have great skills in basket-weaving and woodworking. These traditional crafts are in danger of being lost or forgotten, but present an enormous, yet largely untapped, source of employment and income.
There are numerous opportunities, especially for women, for exploiting traditional crafts and skills and the marketing of these to both domestic and foreign markets. Many possibilities have already been earmarked and promoted by the MET and include:
- knitting and weaving (clothes, rugs, blankets)
- jam and honey production
- wood carving
- hemp paper and cloth production
- furniture manufacture
- traditional building skills: carpentry/joinery, lime plaster work, metal forging etc.
- lace making.
We have restored an old shop in the central square of Biertan. This was a particularly difficult undertaking which took two years. It is with great pleasure that we have now let the space as a craft shop with a whole range of local and national pieces on sale.
For details, please contact email@example.com
Examples of basket-making
Local weaver using traditional techniques.
The new craft shop in Biertan.
Traditional Romanian crafts on display in Biertan.