Historical Keyboard Collection:
Clavichord by Kurt Sperrhake of Passau, Germany, ca. 1953
This instrument came to the Beethoven Center from the collection of Edyth Wagner from her brother Gene Wagner. Sperrhake's instruments were not modeled on a single eighteenth-century clavichord, but were based on design elements common to many instruments. Sperrhake was part of the early instrument movement in the 1950s that encouraged building of reproductions to make these instruments widely available for concert use.
As a young man, Beethoven must have played the clavichord in Bonn where he was a court musician and also played in churches. While playing the clavichord, Beethoven would have been familiar with an unusual special effect of the instrument: players could create a vibrato by making pulsating motions with their fingers on the keys. This vibrato was called Bebung.