Gliori harpsichord

My mother, Sybil Coady, commissioned this harpsichord from the instrument maker Lionel Gliori in 1981. She travelled to Scotland to meet Gliori, and visited the Russell Collection of keyboards in Edinburgh University to see the Taskin instrument that her harpsichord would be modelled on.

The double manual harpsichord built by Gliori is a copy of one made in Paris in 1769 by Pascal Joseph Taskin (1723-1793). Taskin was instrument maker to the court of Louis XVI of France from 1774. The original Taskin instrument remained in Paris in the possession of the Taskin family until 1952, when it passed into the hands of Raymond Russell, founder of the Russell Collection. The Taskin harpsichord, which forms part of the Raymond Russel Collection of keyboards, is now housed in St Cecelia’s Hall in the University of Edinburgh.the possession of the Taskin family until 1952, when it passed into the hands of Raymond Russell.

Gliori, who was Scottish-Italian, had worked as a sculptor and painter, and was a professeur at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts. When he stopped teaching in 1974, Gliori started making violins, bows and beautiful harpsichords in a workroom in his house in Pencaitland, East Lothian (about 12 miles from Edinburgh. His instruments were recognised as works of art, not only musically but also artistically, being colourfully decorated with painted landscapes and other designs.

Gliori’s keyboard instruments have been used by many musicians. One instrument is in a collection in John Kitchen’s Edinburgh house. Kitchen is the Edinburgh City Organist and was a lecturer in music at Edinburgh University.

Gliori exchanged letters with Sybil. One letter written in April 1981 discussed details such as what kind of stand she wanted, what colour to use for the instrument, and the type of jack and plectrum to be used. He completed instrument in 1981. The harpsichord was delivered to the South of France in about 1982. It has remained in France in my mother’s house until now, and was played by my mother until she was in her 90s.