During previous years, East Cork Early Music has been fortunate to feature some unique historical instruments – including a lute by Sixtus Rauwolf (Augsburg, c. 1590) which Jakob Lindberg played with Emma Kirkby in 2008. This year, we are proud to feature an original French harpsichord by Antoine Vater, dating from 1738, which is the only historical harpsichord in Ireland that is in full playing order. [See the 2012 Festival page for details of this concert, with Tom Ó Drisceoil, harpsichord; Aoife O’Donovan, baroque flute; and Sophie Creaner, recorders.]
Born in Hanover to a family of harpsichord- and organ-builders, Antoine Vater moved to Paris in 1715 to practice his family’s profession. He quickly gathered a reputation as being one of the finest harpsichord-makers in France, and a number of well apprentices studied with him (including well-known maker Jean-Henri Hemsch).
Alongside his primary business of making harpsichords, Vater was also one of the Guardians of the Royal Harpsichords, charged with maintaining the large collection at Versailles, as well as acquiring new instruments. He moved to Rue du Temple in 1737, and the German composer Georg Philipp Telemann stayed here with Vater for the whole of 1738.
Three instruments by Antoine Vater are known to survive today: one (dated 1732) is at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, another (dated 1737) is in a private collection in England, and a third (dated 1738) is in Cork.