Antique ivory on early keyboards

Shared by Thomas Strange - 9/12/2014

I collect and use early keyboards from the 18th and early 19th century to help performers, and particularly young performers with a focus on keyboard, to understand the framework that the great music was composed in, and the capabilities and limitations of the early piano and harpsichord in South Carolina. To that end, along with over 18 American and English pianos, I have a piano that Chopin played during the last months of his life and identical to the same that he toured with in England in 1848, two Jacob Kirkman harpsichords from the mid 18th C that are highly regarded examples of original condition instruments, and whose ivory key tops tell the story of shop practice and manufacturing in that early time. These are historical treasures, form the basis of our cultural heritage, and are not something to be desecrated or misused by insisting that the ivory is somehow harmful to living elephants. We have no interest in new ivory, legal or otherwise, and ivory that is 260 years old cannot be considered in the same breath as that being poached from Africa today. The problems facing the elephant are complex, and a simple ban on all ivory trade cannot address the problem, but it can and has stopped the free exchange on early instruments across our boarders that is required to continue our enjoyment of a common cultural heritage among Western nations.

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