R.I.P. Malcolm Rose

Sad news on Malcolm Rose passing away. On May 2022 I have been at Glyndebourne festival in Lewes, where he had his workshop but didn’t plan a visit in advance so I missed the opportunity. I am very sorry.

From the point of view of the harpsichord world, Malcolm is a terrible loss. This year we have lost two of the best string sources: Little Falls brass (due to the closing of the Instrument workshop (fortepiano.com) and now Malcolm Rose, whose know-how is now lost with him (I don’t think he shared any information on alloy and making and drawing steps). It’s a very bad moment for the harpsichord world, we discussed the subject exactly one year ago: Heritage of the harpsichord making

Malcolm Rose’s wire has been praised for many years as the most authentic wire, both brass and iron. Since a few years we have an even better wire, both brass and iron, from Stephen Birkett, who will be overwhelmed by requests but who can’t possibly supply strings for everybody in the world. A sad and critical historical moment for the harpsichord.

However, even more important is human life, and I can’t say anything if not sit tibi terra levis, Malcolm.

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@domenico.statuto Sad news. STTL indeed.

But Little Falls wire is made by, well, Little Falls Alloys, a large industrial wire manufacturer in America. As far as I know they are still in full production, as 70/30 brass wire is used in industry for springs and other things, and happens to be good for music wire.

The topic of whether 70/30 is the ‘right’ wire is not the issue at hand. But many people do like it.

Life is s**t isn’t it? I heard about Malcolm a couple of days ago and found it hard to take in. He was coming up to his 74th in January. Too young. But on the wire subject, we spoke recently while discussing the new reprint of the handbook (300). His (middle) daughter was running the wire making and hopefully she will continue. The wire composition is known to the suppliers (it comes in something like 2mm reels) and so could continue. Paul Simmonds used to help before moving to Switzerland. So there is some hope that the knowledge is not lost. I haven’t spoken to his family yet but will do so soon.
Still it’s very sad. His instruments were always rather wonderful, excellent workmanship always.

I shall miss him as a friend since 1980, I never thought he would predecease me. My thoughts are with Sabine, and Karin, Hannah, Leonie and Sara.

David Law


Oh dear! This is really really sad news. My heartfelt sympathies to Léonie and his family.

Yes, Malcolm was always ever so wonderfully helpful: we’d just recently been discussing by mail the possible provenance, he suggested Franciolini ( ! ) of an unusual harpsichord signed Cousineault.

So here’s my wish to all the makers out there: have a Healthy 2023 and beyond !


Malcolm was a very nice person as well as a fine harpsichord maker. I bought one of his Theeuwes instruments in around 2006. It was lovely and the craftsmanship was superb. That one was used for recordings by a number of people, including Leonhardt (Byrd), Bertrand Cuiller (Tomkins?), and Robert Woolley (Sweelinck). (I later sold it to Bertrand, and he has sold it on.)

Malcolm will be much missed.

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