Taskin Project – Bucharest Early Music Festival
Taskin Project

Taskin Project

Starts from: November 21, 2017

Start Time 7:00 pm End Time8:30 pm

Calea Victoriei 49-53

Tuesday, 21st of November 2017, 7.00 pm, The National Museum of Art

One of the very few historical instruments of the Romanian heritage is to be brought to life.

This is the great story of a harpsichord built in Netherlands, in 1621 by Ruckers and re-built in France, in 1772 by Taskin:

At it seems, the harpsichord was initialyy built by Andreas Ruckers, in Netherlands, in 1621. Ruckers family was famous for their harpsichords during 16th and 17th – centuries.

For its value, the harpsichord by Andreas Ruckers came into the workshop of another famus harpsichord builder, Pascal Taskin. He built a new instrument with two keyboards and four registers, using some of the elements of the Ruckers instrument, in Paris, in 1772.

Pascal Taskin assumed the tradition of harpsichord building of Blanchet familiy. For his qualities, Pascal Taskin was allowed to enter the harpsichord makers guild in the same year he started to lead Blanchet’s harpsichords workshop. In the same time, he received the distinction ”facteur des clavessins du Roi” – not only a great honour for him but also the proof of the absolute trust that the King gave him.

The instrument initially belonged to the French royal family. After few years, the harpsichord was bought by the royal family of Romania.


The status of the instrument


There are several damages on the instrument caused by the stress of the strings. These damages are serious and the main reasons of why the instrument has been tunned down and has been taken out of use. Releasing the stress of the strings protects the soundboard against further damage.


The soundboard shows strong deformation and settlement and a more than 150 mm long open crack in the soundboard, in the bass. The cracks edges are not on an equal level but up to a 3 mm different level. The settlement of the soundboard is less strong in the middle part, and nearly plain in the treble.There are 6 more cracks in the soundboard in the middle and treble.

The wrestplank with tuning pins do look stable. Some of the holes of the tuning pins do look wide and it is not secure it they will hold a stable position when tuned.

The hitch pin rail is loosened from the frame in the bass. This is a serious damage, which can become worse when the instrument is tuned. The main reason for this is the excessive stress of the strings. The pitch of the instrument was 440’ for too many years and not 392’ – 397’ as it was supposed to be. This problem could become again real when tunning the instrument after restoration.

Some parts of the wood have earlier been attacked by insects. There are holes after woodworm which weakened the wooden structure in the stand. One list in the middle of the stand is broken and unstable.

The insects are no longer active (controlled by conservators in castle Peleș). The inner room of the harpsichord is partly moulded, what points to a too high relative humidity in the sorounding air. There was found white mould on the bottom side of the wrest plank and on some jacks.

The tuning pins show a red corrosion. The lead in the jacks have developed white corrosion. This has begun to expand in volume and is a risk for the wood to develop cracks when expanding more. To stop further development of the corrosion it is important to control the relative humidity.

The keyboards are also damaged. There are missing key covers, head and tail, both on lower and upper keyboards. The felt under the keys is damaged by moth.

The jacks are partly deformed and where hardly to remove out of the jack rail during the examination. Some of them are cracked or have missing parts. The quills show traces of use, are uneven and partly missing. The jacks where put not in order to their numbering in the jack rail, but unsorted.

The paint on the case is on many parts in very poor condition. There is loose, flaking and missing paint and gilding. The name board looks over painted. There are several retouched areas on the paintings. On top of the lid is a white ring after water from a wet pot or bottle, a blanching.

As the decoration of the soundboard, the rose looks to be made of Ruckers. That should be confirmed by a closer analysis of material and production technology, by comparing with roses of Ruckers instruments.

The too thick strings mounted on the instrument today result in higher stress than strings in fitting thickness would have put on the construction. A tuning of these wrong strings over long time is probably be one reason of the strong deformation and cracks in the soundboard. This may also be the reason for the fact that the soundboard and the hitch pin rail are loosened from the frame of the instrument.

During the resoration, the strings would be totally taken off the instrument. The soundboard would be repaired by introducing some very thin woods inside the cracks and then would be again fixed inside the frame. After the restoration of the soundboard and its painting, the new set of strings would be put on the instrument. They would be tuned step by step in order to ovoid the sudden stress of the instrument. The pitch of the instrument would be not higher than 392′ – 397′.


The restoration of the historical harpsichord Ruckers – Taskin (1621 – 1772) includes three phases:

  1. The report of the instrument’s condition.
  2. The restoration of the sound producing parts of the instrument.
  3. Painting’s restoration.


The report of the instrument’s condition.

The first report for the status the historical harpsichord Ruckers – Taskin (1621 / 1772) was made at Peleș Castle Sinaia (the National Museum Peleș) between 5th and 8th May 2015 by Vera de Bruyn Ouboter (Head of the Conservation Department of Ringve Musikmuseum Trondheim, Norway – National Museum of Musical Instruments of Norway) and Prof. Ketil Haugsand (harpsichord player, harpsichord teacher at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln and Det Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium Copenhagen, harpsichord builder and historical harpsichords restorer). This report referes to the actual status of the mechanical and sound producing parts of the instrument.

The second report of the instrument was made in June 2015 and it was made by Mrs. Roxana Rădvan (the scientific director of the National Optoelectronics Institute, Măgurele) and Mr. Mihai Covaci (paint and wood restorer). This refers to the actual status of the wood parts and painting of the instrument.

The restoration of the sound producing parts of the instrument would be done under the guidance of Prof. Ketil Haugsand.

During this phase of restoration

– the strings of the instrument will be totally taken off

– the soundboard will be restored

– the painting of the soundboard will be restored

– a new string set will be put on the instrument

– the sound producing mechanism will be totally restored

– the stand of the instrument will be restored

– the instrument will be regulated


Painting’s restoration would be done under the guidance of Mr. Mihai Covaci.

During this phase of restoration

– the painting layer will be invigorated

– the painting layer will be cleaned

– the painting layer will be grouted

– the painting layer will be varnished

– the painting layer will be retouched

– the whole instrument will be varnished

– the hardware of the lid will be restored

– the strut of the frame will be totally replaced

– the legs of the instrument will be consolidated

The time for this phase is August – October 2017.

Estimated budget: 5000 Euro.


The members of the restoration team want to have a final playing instrument and not only a very well conserved one. After the restoration, the public of the museum would be able to visit or to listen to the instrument in different musical projects.


The instrument is not in the status of being visited in the present.

The project is developed by ANTIQVA Association in partnership with National Museum Peleș.

The first stage of the project – examination of the instrument – was made with the support of Ringvemusikmuseum Trondheim, Norway (Norway’s National Museum of Music Instruments) and National Institute of Optoelectronics, Măgurele

We are specially grateful for their support by now to: Mr. Ketil Haugsand, Mrs. Vera de Bruyn Ouboter, Mr. Radu Boroianu, Mr. Mihai Covaci, Mrs. Roxana Rădvan, Mr. Narcis Ion, Mr. Mircea Hortopan.