Friedrich Kuhlbörs c. 1805
This early fortepiano by Friedrich Kuhlbörs is one of a few surviving fortepianos made by this outstanding piano maker. The instrument has never been restored before and was in absolute original condition with original strings. It is absolutely similar to the instrument in the collection of Kloster Michaelstein Blankenburg. Both instruments are only 6 serial numbers apart.
The case of the piano is made of walnut with inlays around the case and stands on four down-tapering legs decorated with a leather inlay. Two iron hinges hold the lid and at the front is a small bone inlay at the lock. The keyboard is made of ox bone and ebony, the hammers are covered with leather and the instrument is double and triple strung.
There are three knee levers for dampers, una corda and moderator. On the wrest plank are two original candle holders.
The nameboard is inlaid with different woods and bears the inscription:
„Friedr. Kuhlbörs sen.
Inside the piano is an original paper label with the serial number and the inscription:
Friedr. Kuhlbörs sen:
By the examination of the instrument the original tuning key with the burnt-in initials “W. v B.” was found in the inside. Further research on the instrument is still ongoing.
The style of this piano is in many parts similar to early Viennese instruments from around 1790. The keyboard is not protruding and has bevelled edges. The case is made in harpsichord shape and has four legs. Only the large compass of 6 octaves (FF – f4) allows a dating to around 1805.
The oldest surviving fortepiano by Friedrich Kuhlbörs is now in the collection of “St Cecilia’s Hall of Musical Instruments” in Edinburgh. According to Martha Novak Clinkscale that grand piano is dated to 1800. However, this dating can not be correct. The instrument bears the serial number 69. Since Kuhlbörs was active in his workshop from 1790, it can be assumed that the piano was built before 1800. The instrument in Edinburgh also shows further features like the light design and the compass of the keyboard that indicates a date to be built before 1800.
About Friedrich Kuhlbörs is so only little known. He lived from 1765 to 1832 and was active since 1790 in Breslau as a piano maker. His son Friedrich Wilhelm Kuhlbörs was also an instrument maker and received his master’s certificate in 1828. It can be assumed that he then worked in his father’s company and continued it after his death.
Other surviving instruments by Friedrich Kuhlbörs:
- 1790 grand piano (No. 69) – University of Edinburgh, St Ceciia’s Hall of Musical Instruments, Edinburgh UK
- 1805 grand piano (No. 388) – Kultur- und Forschungsstätte Kloster Michaelstein, Blankenburg Germany
- 1830 upright / giraffe (No. ?) – Museum Narodowe, Warsaw Poland
|Circumference:||6 octaves (FF – f4)|
|Pedals:||3 knee levers – dampers, una corda, moderator|
„Friedr. Kuhlbörs sen.