Playing the Harpsichord

I began studying piano with my mother at age three on the Niagara Peninsula (Canada). I later studied violin with Artur Garami and keyboard with Eric Dowling. My childhood inspiration was a series of articles about Vladimir Horowitz in Etude Magazine.

By the age of sixteen I was an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. I was introduced to the harpsichord and Fenton House by Thurston Dart, who had just moved to London, to gamba making by Juliet Beamont of Cambridge, and to the baroque violin by Alice Harnoncourt (all too briefly).

For a variety of reasons, I took time out from a music career to raise five wonderful children: a minister, a teacher, a scientist, a guitar maker and a writer. When they were grown up, I cashed in my pension and returned to my music.

Originally, I planned to record all copyright-free works for the harpsichord in General MIDI format for free distribution on the Internet. If you enjoy the trip, who cares if you get there! But, something happened on the way - the trip got nasty, so I stopped.

I was, to the best of my knowledge, the first harpsichord player to post serious recordings on the internet, beginning with Usenet, then Geocities, then on. Originally, I posted as "Harpsichordist to the Internet", however that conceit is long outdated, especially since the rise of MP3 and Youtube.

I thank the Internet sites that carry my recordings. The main ones are:
Midiworld: Allows unrestricted free downloading of individual files. Indexes Scarlatti by Longo numbers as well as Kirkpatrick.
The Classical Music Archive: Pierre Schwab was one of my earliest supporters on the internet. The site does have restrictions on the number of files that can be downloaded.
Kunst der Fuge: Has restrictions on the number of files that can be downloaded.
Utrecht University FTP Server: The first site to carry my recordings. Over 5 decades old, but still working (the last time I checked)
Dave's J.S.Bach Page: Bach only, of course. I thank Dave for his support over the years.

I keep on my site zipped files containing all my recordings by composer: Bach, Byrd and Scarlatti.

The Werner Icking Music Archive carries my Scarlatti scores converted to PDF. Here they are in my original PostScript.

Frank Oberle has used the modern lossless format .flac (playable with VLC) to render my Scarlatti and Bach recordings. Regrettably my sound font was set to too high a level for them, so there is clipping of several of the mid-range notes. My harpsichord didn't sound harsh or brittle.

John Sankey

Historic and Cultural Heritage Bronze Award
Classical Archives Recognized Contributor
Informative Music Site Award

aged 3, 16, and while I was doing the Bach recordings