Michael Praetorius described the claviorgan in Syntagma Musicum II, De organographia, 1619 as a keyboard instrument in which strings and pipes ‘sound together to produce a pleasing sound’. 

Athanasius Kircher’s Musurgia Universalis (1650) contains a description and this technical drawing of a claviorgan. 

Musurgia universalis, sive Ars magna consoni et dissoni, Rome, 1650. Translation by A. Hirsch as Philosophischer Extract und Auszug aus dess Welt-berühmten teutschen Jesuiten Athanasii Kircheri von Fulda Musurgia universali, Schwäbisch Hall, 1662

In the 16th century spinets or virginals were built ‘with pipes undernethe’ and full-size harpsichords with positive organs incorporated were used in northern Europe. This illustration shows the lid painting of the Wismayer spinet built for the Nuremberg patrician Lucas Friedrich Behaim. The principal foreground group (representing Autumn) depicts four string players surrounding a claviorgan. The instrument has two manuals, or is a spinet placed upon an organ. Whether or not the instrument is strictly a claviorgan, the keyboards are shown being played simultaneously and in ensemble with the strings.


Lid painting by Frederik van Valckenborch or Falckenberg, (ca.1570-1623), The Four Seasons (1619). Paul Wismayer Virginals, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nüremberg.

Source: Terence Charlston, ‘An instrument in search of its repertoire? The Theewes claviorgan and its use in the performance of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century keyboard music.’ The RCO Journal, March 2009, pp. 27–44.
This article explores the style and performance practices of 16th- and 17th-century keyboard music from the perspective of the claviorgan. As a complement to the article, a number of files have been uploaded to the RCO website (under ‘Academic Resources’) at A shortened version of the database is given below.

Sound Files

To hear the reconstructed sound of a claviorgan, click on a title below.

(14a) Anon.: The trowmppettus. AWAITING LINK RH solo. Org: C R8' 4' 2' C ¼'; Hd: 8' 4'. Source: GB-Eve Evesham Abbey Bible,f.1v. Musica Britannica, vol. 66, no. 34.

(27) Farant: Felix namque.  AWAITING LINK 'Mixed consort' registration (i.e. registrations in which the 8 or 4 foot pitch is absent from the organ but sounding in the harpsichord.) Org: C 4'; Hd: 8'. Source: GB-Lbl MS Add.30513 (The Mulliner Book), f.20v. Musica Britannica, vol. 1, no. 19.

(29a) Paix: Ungarescha.  AWAITING LINK RH emphasis. Org: C R8' R8' 2' C ¼'; Hd: 8' 4'. Jakob Paix organ tablature (in new German tablature) (1583) W. Merian (ed.), Der Tanz in den deutschen Tabulaturbüchern (Wiesbaden, 1928/1968), p. 149.

Recorded on 20/12/08 by Terence Charlston and Erik Dippenaar with the assistance of Dominic Gwynn and Martin Goetze.
Org: = Theewes Organ reconstruction by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn Ltd., Welbeck,UK, 2008.
Hd: = Single manual harpsichord after Ioannes Couchet, Antwerp, 1645 (Russell Collection, Edinburgh, Catalogue No HS3-IC1645.7) made by David Evans, Henley, 2005. Two registers (8' and 4') and buff stop. Plectra of strong black turkey quills. Compass: C, D-c3 (48 notes) and iron scale. The instrument is typical of the Ruckers tradition.
Malcolm Rose’s reconstruction of the Theewes harpsichord can be heard in solo repertoire on two commercially available recordings: Farnaby's Dream: Timothy Roberts. EMCCD-7756 & William Byrd: Gustav Leonhardt. Alpha 073.

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Compiled by Eleanor Smith and Terence Charlston
161 entries
Date Description
1460 Paulirinus of Prague, Liber viginti atrium, Encyclopaedia entry. First known reference.
1478-97 Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes records the construction of what he says is the first Claviorgan in Spain made by Mohama  Moferriz 
1479 Contract signed by Mohama Mofferriz.
1480 Sancho de Paredes, Chamberlain to Queen Isabella, owned two claviorgans 
1483–1545 King of Portugal
1484 Payment to Mofferriz.
1488 Mofferiz claviorgan for John of Cologne.
1493 Garci Fernández Manrique, marquis of Aguilar de Campo, ordered a claviorgan from Mofferriz.
1500 Inventory of Isabella I's instruments.
1508 Another claviorgan from Mofferriz. 
1511 Loys Rodilly, Nancy
1511 Pasi, Modena
?1519 ‘espinisata organisata’ in Arena's dance manual Ad suos compagnones …
1530 William Lewes, Greenwich. “ij payer of virginalles in one coffer with iiij stopes
1539 Claviorgans in use in the Florentine intermedii in the 16th century. 
1547 Inventory of instruments belonging to Henry VIII.
1548 Miguel de Albariel, a memberof the Mofferriz family, contructs a new claviorgan.
1555 Spinet. Annabile dei Rossi, Milan, 1577. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The instrument has undergone many changes and may originally have been part of a claviorgan pair.
1564-69 Claviorgan. Rorif, Triol or Ausburg, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
1573 Inventory of Cassel Hofkapelle by the Hoforgansist, Hans von Enden. Item 73 'The Positif together with a string (seitten) Instrument in the new chamber'. (A. Baines, ‘Two Cassel Inventories’, The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 4 (Jun., 1951), pp. 30-38)
1575 Meyer, Göttingen
1579 Theewes claviorgan. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1581 In 1560 William Treasorer had a patent confirming his invention of a musical instrument which is likely to have been a claviorgan.
1583/4 Kenilworth inventory “.. an instrumente of organs, regales, and virginalles…”
1584 Instructions for the registration of the Panarmonico [claviorgan].
1585 Claviorgan. Bertolotti (Brussels). Musical Instrument Museum, Brussels.
1586 The Russia Company sent Sir Jerome Horsey to the Russian court with a gift of instruments possibly including a claviorgan? 
1587 Two claviorgans at the Farnese court. (N. Thistlethwaite & G. Webber, eds., The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, Cambridge, 1998, p.160 and 329, n.8)
1587 Combined spinet and regal. Meidting. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna.
1590 Claviorgan given to Phillip III of Spain. (Stevens 1963)
1590s Combined spinet and regal. Lorenz Hauslaib (Nuremberg), Museu de la Musica, Barcelona. 
1591 Combined spinet and regal. Josua Pock, virginal and organ (Salzburg).
1592 Hans Brebos
1592 Daniel Heyer made three claviorgans and undertook another shortly before he died in 1592.
1593 Combined spinet and regal. Lorenz Hauslaib (Nuremberg), Glinka Museum, Moscow. 
1593 Veronese inventory - Marco Bevilacqua’s ‘claviorgano de due registri’
1593 Inventory of Johann Heugel, Kapellmeister, Cassel.
1594 Ercole Bottrigari Il desiderio (1594)
1598 Combined spinet and regal. Lorenz Hauslaib (Nuremberg), Met, New York. 
1598 One or two claviorgans are listed in the inventory upon the death of Philip II in 1598. 
1598 Hippolito Cricca’s ‘Instrumento Piano e Forte’ was coupled to an organ below it. (Grove, ‘Dulce Melos’; Boalch, 788)
c.1600 Southern German, Rectangular virginal (ex-claviorgan), Musikinstrumenten-Museum, Berlin no. 2217.
1601 Hassler patent
1602 Spanish inventory mentioning the clavichord claviorgan given to Philip III (Ford 1997) [see above]  (‘The Pedal Claviorchord and the Pedal Harpsichord’, GSJ, 50 (Mar 1997)) 
1611 Randle Cotgrave’s French/English dictionary: “Espinette organisée. A virginall and wind instrument joyned together; a set of Pipes added to a Virginall” .
1613 Cassell Inventory.
1617 East India Company ‘cabinett’ … claviorgan?
1619 Lid painting from claviorgan in ensemble performance with strings. Nuremberg.
1619 Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum II, De organographia.
1620 Seminiati Salmi in concerto
1620 4th Earl of Cumberland Mashrother claviorgan 1620 
c.1625 Bidermann & Langenbucher, automated organ and spinet (New York)
c.1625 Rungell or Bidermann, automated organ and spinet (Dresden)
1627 Deacons, Utrecht
1627 Heather, Oxford
1628 Monteverdi, Parma 
1629 Salisbury House
c.1630? French harpsichord, ex-claviorgan, now with an 18th century organ underneath, (Beurmann Collection, Hamburg)
1636 Duke of Newcastle, Welbeck 1636 
1636 Charles Butler The Principles of Musick p93 “And these latter curious times have conjoined two or more in one: making the Organ and the Virginal to go both together with the same 
1637 Valeran de Hèrman, Paris
1639 Frescobaldi  
1639 Frescobaldi playing the “clavessin, the organ continuing all the while".
1639 Valentin Zeiss, Salzburg
1640 Trichet, Traite
c.1640 Barcotto
1646 Valentin Zeiss, Schloss Aistersheim. Austria
c.1650 H. H. Bader(s) organ for the Abdinghofkirche, Paderborn, with a two-manual Instrument of
low, 12 ft.,  pitch. 
1650 Athanasius Kircher’s Musurgia Universalis contains a description and technical drawing of a claviorgan.
1656 Eugen Casperini
1657 Schott Geigenwerk-cum-Organ. See 1664.
1664 Schott Geigenwerk with built in organ. See 1657.
1664 Archiviole “comprehending both an organ and a concert of 5 or 6 viols in one 
1667 Todini Galleria armonica 
1667 Pepys “bauble”
1675 Todini 'Golden' harpsichord
1676-1812 Seville Cathedral, Claviorgan in continuous use until 1812
1680-1700 Anonymous Viennese harpsichord dated 1680–1700 (National Museum, Prague) built with a harpsichord-shaped cabinet underneath.
1681 Vaudry (V&A)
1693 Cristofori accounts
c.1700-1725 Early 18th entury Dutch or French fan. Painting of pipes springing out of a soundboard. A claviorgan?
1712 Herman Willen Brook (Kendrick Pyne collection) in the possession of Henry Boddington of Downall [Pownall] Hall Wilmslow, sold by Puttick and Simpson in July 1901 for £3 (BIOS Reporter 4/2 Apr 1980 p11, BBE).   
1716 Medici inventory .
1723 Thomas Swarbrick built a claviorgan in Wells which had the harpsichord rather than the organ as the upright half.
1723-24 Nassare Escuela musica
1731/37? Shudi/Snetzler – rumoured instrument.
1733 Swarbrick, St. Michael's Coventry
1733 in Oxford ‘curious Instrument lately invented’ by an Oxford organist which could play, on one keyboard, ‘two organs’ and a harpsichord together or separately (Applebee’s Original Weekly Journal 7.7.1733, in Peter Williams)
c.1735 Probably from Carlton House for Frederick Prince of Wales, now in Kensington Palace, alteration of case for upright harpsichord/organ in 1763.
1739 Mattheson Der vollkommene Capellmeister
1739 One of Handel’s organ concertos, 1739, composed for the organ-harpsichord used in Saul, 1738 – probably Handel's famous ‘maggot’ (Charles Jennens, 1738)
1740 Shudi/Snetzler (?) Ex-claviorgan, Kew Gardens (Chris Nobbs).
1742 Granada Cathedral
1745 John Crang for Beeston Long (Russell Collection, Hipkins)
1745-1751 John Snetzler/Kirkmann Wemyss (Peter Williams)
1747 a particularly new and curious Machine, containing a Movement which plays either an organ or Harpsichord (or both if desired) in a masterly manner” George Adams author of Adams Micrographia Illustrated (1747) appended catalogue no334 quoted in Langwill and Boston Barrel Organ ch5
1747 Harpsichord by Johann Christoph Pantzner 1747 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) with a harpsichord-shaped cabinet underneath
1750-75 Organised square, anon.
1758 Adlung Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit 
1760s  Zumpe and Buntebart piano/organ in the Musée des Arts et Metiers in Paris
1760 Crang Hancock Patent 1743 (April 1760) “A new grand pianoforte with a spring touch, German flute and harp” shows an organised piano (Chris Nobbs). Ignore the Clinkscale reference from previously - Chris sent me scanned copies of the patents![TC to add?] 
1762 John Kemyss of Bristol (Gentleman’s Magazine letter 32 p211 in Peter Williams)
1764 Michael and Johann Wagner
1765-90 Joseph II of Austria
c.1765 Blaha’s machine’, Prague
1765 Delitz, Danzig
1765 Charles Green of Salisbury “neat mahogany SPINNET with an ORGAN” Salisbury Journal, 2.4.1765 (Betty Matthews)
1766-8 Dom Bedos L'art du facteur d'orgues shows both organised harpsichord and piano
1768 Adlung Musica mechanica organoedi
1770 Samuel Green, Hanbury Hall.
c.1770 Anonymous late 18th century two manual harpsichord, Palais Lascaris, Nice
1770s Stein clavecin organisé
1771 Burney
1771 Johannes Klein, Viennese instruments maker, Organised square, Stockholm: Stilftelsen Musikkulterens Främjande, Clinkscale (1993: 168).
1772-77 L’Épine, Paris, maker of ‘fortes-pianos organisés’ in 1772 in the rue Neuve-Saint-Lambert and in 1777 in the rue Nueve Neuve-Laurent [perhaps a correction?]. Clinkscale (1993: 180). His 
1772 Peter Lundborg, organised clavichord, Musikmuseet Stockholm.
1772 Entry in William Tans’ur The Elements of Musick Display’d (London 1772)
1774 Rother clavicytherium (Dublin) with dummy pipes in case front – to look like a claviorgan or to look like an organ? 
1774 Zumpe organised square, Paris, Musee Instrumental du Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique. Clinkscale (1993: 333). 
1775 Lejeune, Paris, made organised pianos in the rue Quincampoix. Clinkscale (1993: 179).
1777 Tadeus Tornel, Musei Arqueologico, Murcia (Lit. ref. The Five-Octave Compass in 18th-Century Spanish Harpsichords, Beryl Kenyon de Pascual and John Henry van der Meer,  Early Music, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Feb., 1987), pp. 74-76. Now a piano but probably originally a harpsichord. Clinkscale (1993: 301).
1778 Dom Bedos
1778 Zumpe organised square, Paris, Musee National des Techniques: Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, Clinkscale (1993: 333).
1780 Woffington, Dublin.
1781 Stein, Gothenburg City Museum (Michael Latcham/Robin Blanton). [Clinkscale (1993: 274) gives the date as 1770].
[1782] Christopher Ganer, Leipzig later London, organised square (organ added later), Boston, MA, New England Conservatory, Clinkscale (1993: 114).
1783 Organized square piano by Johann Gabrahn, St Petersburg 1783, State Museum of Pavlovsk
1784 Michael Arne
1784 Merlin/R&W Gray organised piano, (also reference below from 1786), Colt Collection number 6, ref. C.F. Colt and Antony Miall, (1981).
1785 Handel commemoration service (Burney)
1785 Johann Gottlob Horn, Dresden, Organised square, Leipzig University 229, Destroyed WWII. Clinkscale (1993: 152).
c. 1785 Franz Xaver Christoph, Organised Piano, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Clinkscale (1993: 67).
1786 Lytchett House sale “An organ piana forte (of Merlin's)” Salisbury & Winchester Journal 4.9.1786  (there is a Merlin organ/piano in the Colt Collection, organ by Robert and William Gray although the description in Clinkscale p. 198 doesn’t appear to match the discussion in Wessel) 
1786 Longman & Broderip organised square, Met. New York 89.4.5803, Clinkscale (1993: 184). Also mentioned in Jeans (1950-51). Organ by ‘Eaton Pet …’?
1787 Organized square piano by Johann Michael Bogner
1787 Buntebart & Sievers, London, Organised Square, Spain/Seville: Seville Cathedral Chapter. Clinkscale (1993: 62).
1790 B. Ilsaas, Folkmuseet, Oslo. Combination of a clavichord and a four stop barrel-organ.
1790 Robert and William Gray, 1790. Chamber organ in the shape of a grand piano.
c. 1790? Longman and Broderip organised piano c. 1790? (n.d.), Berlin?, Clinkscale (1993: 189)
c. 1790 Samuel Bury & Co., Organ square, Germanisched Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, MIR 1184. Clinkscale (1993: 63).
c. 1790 Francisco Flórez, advertises that he is prepared to make organised-pianos in the Gazeta de Madrid. Clinkscale (1993: 105).
1791 Encyclopédie méthodique
1791 Erard, Paris, Indian Wells USA (private collection … enquiries to ANONYMOUS, c/o AMIS Membership Registrar, c/o Kenneth G. Fiske Museum of The Claremont Colleges, 450 N. College Way, Claremont, CA 91711, (909-621-8307) FAX (909-621-8398)
1791 Kühlewind [Kühlewein/Kühlwein?], Samuel, Organ Square, Musikinstrumenten-Museum Berlin no. 14.
[1792-98] Longman and Broderip organised square (organ added after 1839 in Vienna), Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Clinkscale (1993: 187).
c. 1795 Warrell & Co. Maker of square, grand, and organised pianos ‘near Astley’s Theatre, Westminster Bridge’, London. Clinkscale (1993: 316)
1795 Diego Fernandez
1796? Longman and Broderip organised piano, Stockholm, Musikkulterens Främjade, Clinkscale (1993: 189).
1797 Pfeffel, Le Havre, Fr., organised square, Leipzig University, no. 230, Clinkscale (1993: 216)
1798 Kühlewein [Kühlwein?], Johann Samuel, Organ square, organ pipes made out of bottles [!!??!!] Liverpool museum.
1798 Rackwitz, organised square, Musikmuseet, Stockholm, Clinkscale (1993: 224)
c. 1800 Johannes Pohlman(n), organised square, Leipzig 3904 (1964), Clinkscale (1993: 220) 
c. 1800 John Sellers, Germantown U.S.A., organised piano, location unknown, Clinkscale (1993:262).
1800 Kühlewein [Kühlwein?], Johann Samuel, Organ Square, Württembergisches Langewerbemuseum, Stuttgart.
1800-1803 Schmahl, Cristoph Friedrich Schmahl I (rebuilt by?), Organised square, Eisenach Bachhaus, Clinkscale (1993: 248). Mentioned in Jeans (1950-51).
c.1800-1805 Attributed to Christian Gottlob Friederici, organ piano, Leipzig Musikinstrumenten-Museum. Clinkscale (1993: 109) 
1804 Benjamin Crehore (U.S.A.) contracted to build piano organs with the Boston organ maker William Goodrich. Clinkscale (1993: 78)
1807-14 (fl) Blatter , Ferenc. Piano maker in Ofen or Buda, Hungary … thought/known to have built organised pianos. Clinkscale (1993: 25) ref. 
c. 1810 Wind, John (USA) Piano-organ owned by Raymond Brunner? Clinkscale (1993: 324).
1819 Rees's Cyclopaedia
1821 Joseph Böhm granted patent for an organised piano. Clinkscale (1993: 27). No surviving Ops although one piano has a janissary stop.
1830 Pyramidenflügel mit Aeoline by Johann Caspar Schlimbach, Königshofen i. Grabfeld, um 1830


Fuller details can be found on the RCO website (under ‘Academic Resources’) at

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