Biography of Adlam Derek:
Derek Adlam is a performer and instrument maker. Trained in London, his teachers traced their musical ‘ancestry’ to European traditions established by Czerny, Liszt and Clara Schumann. As a child he was, however, drawn instinctively to the ancestors of the modern piano. Neglected spinets and strangely shaped pianos with haunting, ghostly sounds possessed a magical appeal. This attraction remained strong, and while a student he began to play the harpsichord. He also began to explore the musical possibilities offered by the early piano. During the 1950s few fortepianos in playing condition were accessible to performers. With the encouragement of his friends, he began his first experiments in the restoration of an antique fortepiano.
A chance encounter with C. F. Colt’s great keyboard instrument collection in Kent was a turning point. With the benefit of Mr Colt’s critical eye and ear, and working with a gifted cabinet-maker, Derek Adlam eventually became curator-restorer of the collection. At about this time he recorded the complete Bach Partitas on the harpsichord for Oryx. This received critical acclaim, The Gramophone pointing out that it was the first time these great works had been recorded on the harpsichord. In 1969 he first began the construction of new, ‘old’ instruments with a virginal based on an Antwerp muselar of 1611 by Ioannes Ruckers. This was premiered by Colin Tilney in a recital of English renaissance music at the Purcell Room, London.
During these years of development, interest in early music was expanding rapidly. This movement had received a strong impetus after the second World War. After years of destruction and confusion, baroque music especially seemed to offer order , clarity and beauty. To some extent, it was an anti-establishment movement providing a platform for young talent turning away from long held tastes and opinions, and the 19th century symphonic tradition.
In 1971, a move to Finchcocks in Kent, followed. There, in partnership with fortepianist Richard Burnett, a thriving instrument making workshop was set up alongside a public museum of playable harpsichords, fortepianos, clavichords and organs. The workshop produced many restorations and new instruments for professional players, museums and teaching institutions. These are used around the world.
In 1982, Derek Adlam moved to Welbeck in Nottinghamshire to the Harley Foundation’s newly opened art and craft workshops. He became involved with the Foundation’s charitable work, and until 1999 supervised many of its artistic developments, including the building of a public art Gallery at Welbeck. Although no longer building instruments, he continues to perform, principally on the clavichord, and has given recitals in many European countries and the United States. He is President of the British Clavichord Society.