Keyboard Instruments at Yale

In 1900, Morris Steinert, a prominent music retail entrepreneur and philanthropist in New Haven, presented to Yale the core of his extensive collection of clavichords, harpsichords, and pianos. The Steinert gift prompted alumni to donate individual instruments over the following decades, and the acquisition of the Belle Skinner Collection in 1960 confirmed the position of the Yale Collection as one of the most important repositories of keyboard instruments in the world.

Yale's collection of keyboard instruments is notable for the quality and balance of its holdings. The major national schools of keyboard instrument making over a span of more than four centuries are well represented by examples of the work of the leading makers of the time. Clavichords by Hoffmann and Dolmetsch, harpsichords by Ruckers and Taskin, and pianos by Bösendorfer and Erard are just a few choice examples among the more than 100 keyboards in the Collection.

Over half of the instruments on display have been restored and are maintained in playing condition. These are presented in lectures, demonstrations, and tours, and they are heard regularly in concerts featuring leading artists who specialize in the performance of music in a historical context.

The instruments in this exhibit represent a unique asset on the campus of a major university with a strong music program. Yale students and faculty, as well as qualified scholars, performers, and instrument makers, are encouraged to make an appointment for an interactive "close encounter" with these surviving tonal witnesses to music of the past – instruments identical to those played by Bach, Couperin, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms.