Hard-up musician made his own harpsichords

A HARPSICHORD maker who fled the Nazis as a teenager has died.

Wolfgang Zuckermann, 96, was born in Berlin and named after Goethe and Mozart.

He began studying the cello at the age of eight and the male members of his family formed a string quartet.

But they fled the country in 1938 and settled in New York, where Zuckermann’s father ran a leather factory.

In the same year, Zuckermann became an American citizen and went by the name ‘Wallace’.

He also saw front-line action as a private with the American army.

Drawn by a post-war revival in harpsichord music, Zuckermann tried to buy the instrument, but found it expensive.

In 1955, he started making his own, studying old drawings and examining instruments that had been sent from Europe to America.

He rented a loft space in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, and hired a cabinet maker.

But Zuckermann became dismayed when his adopted homeland became the aggressor in Vietnam and he sold up, moving to England and buying Stafford Barton, a 40-room manor house in Devon.

He became involved in local craft enterprises and wrote a column called Sympathetic Variation for The Harpsichord magazine.

Later moving to London, Zuckermann began to study mobility, transport and technology and wrote End of the Road, a children’s book called Family Mouse Behind the Wheel and Alice in Underland.

He also teamed up with political scientist Eric Britton, to create a consumer holiday, International Buy Nothing Day, that involves taking a day off from fuelling capitalism.

Zuckermann moved to France in 1994 and set up Librairie Shakespeare, an English-language bookshop and arts centre in Avignon.

He retired in 2012, although Zuckermann Harpsichords continue to supply kits from its workshop in Connecticut.

Married and divorced three times, a nephew survives him.

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