Boalch as an online database

Eight years ago, on the old good harpsichord list HPSCHD-L, Chris Vandekerkhove suggested making a database out of the then-unfindable Boalch (“Converting Boalch into a database”, Dec. 23rd, 2013). The discussion went on the copyright issues.
Today the Boalch is even more unfindable than in 2013 but it seems a Boalch database is on its way. It should be online by the end of the year. It will be free access and of course will enclose new findings and corrections. I don’t know how they solved the copyright issues, but this is great news.
I found it on the Clavichord makers Facebook group, Redirecting.... It’s a post by David Hackett that I am pasting here (hope this doesn’t bother David nor you):

[David Hackett wrote on Sept. 18, 2021:]
Donald Boalch’s Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440 – 1840 has been a valued resource for us all for many years – the first book we turn to when we encounter an original instrument. The third and most recent edition (edited by Charles Mould) is now very difficult to obtain – the cheapest on-line offer is currently over £1,400. Moreover, since its publication in 1995, the development of the internet in particular has brought to light a wealth of new information, and the ownership of many instruments has changed. So we are delighted to announce that with Charles’ blessing, the launch of ‘Boalch Online’ is now assured. It is expected to be available by the end of the year, as a free-to-access database. One change will be that the scope will be increased by eighty years to 1920, to include the early pioneering work of Arnold Dolmetsch and others.
It will run alongside Clinkscale Online, the database for early pianos, and will follow a similar format. Photographs will be included where possible. The work of transcribing the data from Boalch III is now complete, and development of the database itself is well advanced. The work is being undertaken by Tom Watson (formerly of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation), Tom Strange (Sigal Music Museum, South Carolina) and Tom and Michelle Winter (Clinkscale). I am happy to be a small part of the team – I was the grit in the oyster!
A lot has changed since 1995; Amendments and new information will be invited in due course. In the meantime, I will be happy to be a point of contact, and to receive any preliminary offerings.

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Sounds great!

Great news indeed!
And given that they have the blessings of the Boalch 3 copyright owners, I DO hope they call it Boalch 4th ed., not Boalch 3, rev. xxx, because obviously they will have new Boalch numbers, and therefore there could be endless confusions. The best example is Mozart where they specify two Köchel numbers and, when they specify one only, you never know which Köchel catalog it refers to.

Good point, Claudio. I think you could/should write to David Hackett offering your suggestion for the best results of such enterprise.


Mmmmhhh… good as a joke Domenico.
I certainly will not: “who are you that after we have been working for years have just a simple idea … etc. etc.”. Hope they will know better … Thanks anyway.

Hi Claudio,
I really don’t think you need worry about that with David Hackett. A few years ago I emailed him out of the blue, and his reply was amazingly open, friendly and helpful. It’s always good to have different angles on a subject. Since you are a practised and expert user of Boalch, your “user feedback” for a new edition is likely to be very useful in lots of ways.

Greetings from coolish-but-sunny Ireland,

The online Boalch has a website: The database itself isn’t online yet but announcement is that it will be in a few hours (or maybe days). Great work by David Hackett and I believe by orher people as well, I’m sorry I don’t know their names.


From the website:
General Editor and Website Administrator is John R. Watson, based in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. (email Biographies editor is Lance Whitehead based in Edinburgh, Scotland. (email A board of contributing editors is being formed.