Ruckers transposer 3

Much has been written about the many illustrious owners and famous composers who owned and/or played a Ruckers harpsichord during the eighteenth century. Most of these instruments however, were substantially altered to make them serviceable to changing musical tastes and needs.

Notwithstanding the beauty of these harpsichords, both from a acoustical and a decorative point of view, in sound and in way of playing they are miles away from the original concept.


This list will show you which dignitaries and musicians owned and/or played an original Ruckers/Couchet. Interestingly, many were transposing instruments owned by nobility or influential politicians. It reads as a who-is-who of the first half of the seventeenth century.


Composers and musicians that surely will have played an original Ruckers/Couchet:



Jan Pietersz. Sweelinck (1562-1621) TRANSPOSER (1604)



John Bull (1562/3-1628), Peeter Cornet  (ca.1575-1633)



Peter Philips (1560/1-1628), Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), Johann Kaspar Kerll (1627-1693), Johann Jacob Froberger (1616-1667) (three last mentioned worked at the Brussels court for a while), Abraham van den Kerckhoven (ca.1618-1701) (I.Couchet according to an inventory of the possessions of his son)



Heinrich Scheidemann (ca.1595-1663) TRANSPOSER, Jan Adam Reincken (1643-1722) TRANSPOSER



Dietrich Buxtehude (ca.1637-1707)



Jacques Champion de Chambonnières (ca.1601/2-1672) (I. Couchet), Jean Henri d'Anglebert (1629-1691)  (Ruckers), Louis Couperin (ca.1626-1661)


Other owners of an unaltered Ruckers/Couchet:



Gaspard Duarte (1584-1653), diamondmerchant (I.Couchet)



Albert of Austria and Isabella of Spain, governors of the Spanish Netherlands TRANSPOSER (1638), which after the death of Isabella comes into the possession of Sir Francis Windebank (see: London)


Escorial (Spain):

Elisabeth de France (1602-1644), daughter of Henry IV & Maria de' Medici, spouse of Philps IV (I.Ruckers 1612) TRANSPOSER


Innerleithen (Scotland):

Stuart family (A. Ruckers 1651)



Sir Francis Windebank (1582-1646), politician and secretary of state to Charles I TRANSPOSER


The Hague:

Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), diplomat, poet, musician (I.Couchet 1648)



Scipione Borghese(1577-1633), cardinal, patron of Caravaggio and Bernini who received a Ruckers as a present from cardinal Guido Bentivoglio (1597-1644), in whose company Frescobaldi travelled to Flanders in 1607


Velen (Germany):

Alexander, Reichsgraf von Velen, Freiherr von Raesfeldt, (1599-1675), fieldmarshall (I. Ruckers 1640) TRANSPOSER


Villebon (France):

Maximilien de Béthune (1560-1641), duke of Sully, minister of Henry IV (I. Ruckers 1627) TRANPOSER




G.O'Brien: in: Ruckers, a harpsichord and virginal building tradition

F.Hammond: in: Girolamo Frescobaldi

P.van Kranenburg: in: Abraham van den Kerckhoven