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Cittern or Hamburg Cithrinchen

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Joachim Tielcke (1641-1719)1685HamburgCypress wood and ebony, ivory, parchment and brass pins 64 x 23,4 x 4 cm

The bell-shaped cittern is a small plucked stringed instrument and was a speciality of Hamburg; it is properly referred to as the Hamburg Cithrinchen. It is thought that this particular cittern was developed by an instrument maker from Hamburg around 1660. By about 1700, the instrument was popular with society ladies. A few pieces of sheet music for the Hamburg Cithrinchen, with instrumental versions of arias and the dances from operas popular at the time, have survived. They are testaments to the fact that favourite pieces were often played on the Hamburg Cithrinchen during concerts held in private homes. This example, made by the famous Tielke-workshop, stands out with its filigree inlays of both ebony and ivory.