Thomas & Barbara Wolf, historical keyboard instrument makers
Thomas and Barbara Wolf have made reproductions of historical keyboard instruments since 1969. Trained as musicians at the Interlochen Arts Academy and New England Conservatory, their apprenticeship as instrument makers began in the Boston workshop of Eric Herz, followed by three years with the legendary maker and scholar Frank Hubbard. This led to conservation training at the Smithsonian Institution, initiating a long association with the museum’s keyboard collection as providers of restoration and maintenance services that continues today. Established in 1975, the Wolf workshop has been located in the former schoolhouse of The Plains, VA (near Washington, DC) since 1992. When the late master harpsichord maker William Dowd closed his Boston business in 1988, he spent five years in semi-retirement at the Wolf shop.
The Wolfs make a wide variety of clavichords, harpsichords and fortepianos based on originals from the 17th to the early 19th century. Used throughout the USA and abroad by professional musicians, performing arts organizations, and educational institutions (as well as private amateurs!), their instruments are heard in many concerts and recordings. Numerous well-known owners include The Kennedy Center, The Juilliard School, Oberlin and New England Conservatories, Harvard and Duke Universities, the National Music Museum, Malcolm Bilson, Christopher Hogwood, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Robert Levin, Nicholas McGegan, Jacques Ogg and Kenneth Slowik.
Their experience and skill with antique instruments has made the Wolfs much in demand for restoration, conservation and maintenance services; their work can be found in the collections of several museums. Tom was a James Smithson Fellow at the National Museum of American History in 2002 compiling his research about the beginning decades of piano development. As a result of their extensive study and documentation of Rome’s 1722 Cristofori piano, the Wolfs have completed the first modern copy of it. Their extensive repertoire of fortepiano designs now ranges from the Cristofori to Gottfried Silbermann (1746-49) and continues through J.-L. Dulcken (c.1788), Anton Walter (c.1790), Johann Schantz (c.1800), to Nanette Streicher (c.1815).
In addition to renting instruments, they provide tuning and technical services for concerts and recordings.
After Johann Schantz (c. 1800), 2009