The Emperor's Harpsichord

CD cover

CD cover

"The Emperor's Harpsichord: Diego de Pantoja and His Legacy" is a unique multidisciplinary project in the Spanish musicological arena that has taken months of musicological, performative and sinological research work, with the aim of recovering and raising awareness of the figure the Spanish Jesuit Diego de Pantoja. This research has brought together historical sources and documents from libraries and archives in China, Australia, Rome and Madrid, among others.

More than twenty Western and Chinese period instruments are brought together in this recording to reconstruct the lively musical life of the Chinese court in commemoration of the 450th anniversary of the birth of the Spanish Jesuit Diego de Pantoja 龐迪我 (1571-1618). This missionary from Valdemoro (Spain) was the first European who, together with Matteo Ricci, established cultural and diplomatic relations with the Forbidden City, a feat achieved thanks to the fascination caused by two clocks and a keyboard instrument. It was Pantoja, at the request of Emperor Wanli, who was the first to teach the art of clavichord playing at the Chinese Imperial court.

Abigail R. Horro & Chen Rui. Shanghai 2018

Abigail R. Horro & Chen Rui. Shanghai, China Tour 2018

During the 17 years that Pantoja lived in Beijing, he wrote several books in the native language, ranging from astronomy to geography and philosophy. At his death in 1618, Diego de Pantoja left behind an important work that favored the subsequent presence of missionaries from all over Europe at the court until the end of the 18th century. The Emperor's Harpsichord explores the music surrounding this incredible episode of musical and scientific dialogue and exchanges, including new archival data from the Spanish and Macau sound landscapes of Diego de Pantoja.

The project, recorded in 2021 for the IBS Classical label, has enjoyed the support and collaboration of several Spanish and international institutions, including the Instituto Cervantes. In addition to beautiful texts in Spanish from the early 17th century, the repertoire contains vocal pieces in Chinese, Latin and Italian.

Since its premiere in May 2018 in commemoration of the 4th centenary of the death of the Valdemoreño Jesuit, The Emperor's Harpsichord has toured a large part of Spain. The project visited China n May and June of the same year thanks to a tour organized by the Instituto Cervantes and the Spanish Embassy on the occasion of the Diego de Pantoja Year. This project has aroused the interest of various creators and national and international media, such as the Chinese national television CCTV, the three-time Goya award-winning director José Luis López Linares (as part of the soundtrack for his history documentary premiered in 2021) or Spanish National Classical Radio. Both the concerts and the recently released CD have received enthusiastic reviews in specialized and general media.

The Emperor's Harpsichord it is an original idea and a research project of , the first Spanish Early Music group specializing in the music of East Asia and the historical, cultural and musical relations between China and Europe, in co-production on the stage with the chamber ensemble Íliber Ensemblespecialist in the performance of early music with ancient instruments and historical criteria, with special attention to the Spanish baroque musical heritage.




Press links:

Reviews of the CD "The Emperor's Harpsichord: Diego de Pantoja and His Legacy" recorded for IBS Classical

"The Emperor's Harpsichord" in the Chinese and Spanish media (China Tour 2018)



Dossier The Emperor's Harpsichord



IBS Classical | Spotify | Apple Music | YouTube

CD Teaser IBS Classical 2021

Documental CD "El clave del Emperador"

China Tour 2018

2018 China Tour funded by