College’s Harpsichord Was Labor of Love
Benedictine College is a certified All-Steinway School when it comes to pianos, but it’s an All-Dr. Brothers School when it comes to harpsichords.
Benedictine College physics professor Doug Brothers turned thousands of pieces into a full-sized functioning harpsichord and donated it to the college. The Archdiocese of Kansas City-Kansas newspaper The Leaven featured a full-page story about the harpsichord in its Sept. 15 edition.
Brothers has been a physics professor at Benedictine College for 51 years. He made the harpsichord for his wife, but the two donated the harpsichord to the college before she passed away in February.
“I liked harpsichord music,” Brothers told the paper. “I stayed in a private home during graduate school [and] I bought harpsichord records and I played them until my landlady … asked me to stop!”
His wife Betsy was a pianist, and she took on the harpsichord because of her husband’s fondness for the sound.
The article quotes Ruth Krusmark, who headed Benedictine’s music department for years, on the donation. “On one level, it’s very nice to have an instrument that predates the piano,” she told the Leaven.
“The harpsichord is basically the father of the piano,” she explained, “so it’s great for our students to be able to rehearse and perform on [it]. . . because we [are] able to do Bach cantatas and other early works that are more appropriate to the harpsichord.”
Click here to watch Benedictine College alumnus Brother Florian Rumpza, a monk at St. Benedict’s Abbey on campus, play “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder on a harpsichord (pictured).
Brothers is very happy that the harpsichord is being used, especially after his wife’s passing. “Her death has affected me tremendously,” he said. “[But] it’s been a great thing to give [the harpsichord] to the school and see that it’s being used.”
He appreciates the friendships he has through his wife’s Catholic parish and his own association with Benedictine. “I’m very blessed by the connections I have through the parish, even though it’s not mine,” Brothers told the paper. “I was raised without a faith . . . [but] I’m starting to see that I need it.”