Mozart &
Material Culture


Instrument maker active in London. A member of the noble Swiss Tschudi family, Burkhardt Tschudi moved to England in 1718, where he worked first as a joiner before establishing himself as an instrument maker. He was particularly known for his harpsichords.

Tschudi family.jpg

Carl Marcus Tuscher, Tschudi family portrait, 1742 (left to right: Burkhardt Tschudi, his son Joshua, his wife Katharina and his second son, Burkat; London, National Portrait Gallery)

Mozart Relevance

The Mozarts met Tschudi during their visit to London, 1764-5. Probably in late June or early July 1765, Mozart demonstrated a harpsichord built by Tschudi for Frederick the Great of Prussia, as reported in the Europäische Zeitung for 6 August 1765:

  1. London, 5 July 1765. The very famous keyboard maker Burkard Thudy [sic] of this city, a Swiss by birth, had the honour of making for the King of Prussia a wing-shaped instrument with two manuals which was very much admired by all who saw it.  It has been regarded as particularly noteworthy that Mr. Thudy connected all the stops to a pedal, so that they can be drawn by treading, one after the other, and the decrease and increase of tone may be varied at will, which crescendo and decrescendo has been long wished for by harpsichord players. Mr. Thudy has moreover conceived the good notion of having his extraordinary instrument played for the first time by the most extraordinary keyboard player in the world, namely by the very celebrated master of music Wolfg. Mozart, aged nine, the admirable son of the Salzburg kapellmeister, Herr L. Mozart. It was quite enchanting to hear the fourteen-year-old sister of this little virtuoso playing the most difficult sonatas on the harpsichord with the most astonishing dexterity and her brother accompanying her extempore on another harpsichord. Both perform wonders!

Tschudi’s harpsichord for Frederick the Great has apparently been lost since 1945.[1]

Tschudi 1765 harpsichord.jpg

Tschudi’s 1765 harpsichord for Frederick the Great, now lost

[1] See David Wainwright and Kenneth Mobbs, ‘Shudi’s Harpsichords for Frederick the Great’, The Galpin Society Journal 49 (March 1966), 77-94, esp. 78-79.

Date 1
1702, Glarus
Date 2
1773-08-19, London