The Ikea of the harpsichord has died at 96

The Ikea of the harpsichord has died at 96


norman lebrecht

November 14, 2018

Wolfgang Zuckermann invented the do-it-yourself harpsichord kit.

A German-Jewish immigrant in New York, he issued his first kit in 1960 and sold 10,000 in a decade, from a workshop on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village.

Caustic about other makers, he wrote of one brand that it was tubby, ugly and ‘suffers from laryngitis, possessing a coarse, whispering tone.’

He moved to London in the 1970s, becoming a published expert on its mews and byways.

In 1994, he opened a bookshop in Avignon, where he has just died.


  • HB says:

    Wolfgang Zuckermann’s contribution to music is unsung but incalculable.

    I built my Zuckermann-Jan Ruckers in 1978, and today, forty years later, it still appears regularly on concert stages.

    Well done, Zuckermann. Rest in peace.

  • Paul Carlile says:

    I’m amoze. I’ve been into his Avignon bookshop many times over the years and never realose that the rather surly, disdainful, heavily-accented owner was ex-harpsibored. He certainly organose literery/musical events, with an unplayable clap-tout uptight paino, but wasn’t much appreciote by the neighbores. Wish i’d known at the time, we could have, maybe, had more interesting chats. RIP.

    • Paul, I was a good friend of Wolfgang’s and I can assure you his bark was worse than his bite. He was, during the time we lived on the same continent, generous, a loyal friend and helped many people in a variety of ways. Old age is not easy, though he was know for his curmudgeonly ways, he was so much more than that. If at all interested you can look at his homage page ( many don’t like Facebook but his friend who set it up did not know of other alternatives) — Sincerely, Barbara Rosen

  • AMetFan says:

    One of the joys of my college years was building the Zuckermann Flemish single in my dorm room. Those instruments were engineering miracles. It provided many years of joy. What an interesting life.

  • john p sullivan says:

    Remember walking into my teachers studio and seeing “stuff” all over the floor and on the tops of the grands. Sometime later the stuff became a harpsichord. thank you Mr Wolfgang Zuckermann

  • Wolfgang Zuckermann’s friend of more than 5 decades set up an “homage” page for Wolfgang. Facebook is not liked by all but it was hard to think of other alternatives so for now :
    Wolfgang had an interesting life having been part of the 1960’s Greenwich Village scene and having worked in theater — in fact he built one. Later he became involved in environmental issues, published books and finally opened the only English language bookstore in Avignon, France. If you visit the homage, please feel free to comment.
    Sincerely, Barbara Rosen