Goble Harpsichord

ROBERT GOBLE, who died aged 87, October 14, 1991, was one of the world's leading harpsichord makers.

The small family business that he founded supplied instruments to music colleges and departments all over the globe. Among the artists who have used Goble harpsichords for recordings are Kenneth Gilbert, Robert Woolley and Maggie Cole.

Robert Goble was born at Thursley, Surrey, England on October 30, 1903. His father and grandfather had been wheelwrights, and at first it seemed as though young Robert was destined for the same trade.

Towards the end of the First World War, however, Arnold Dolmetsch, the pioneer of the Early Music revival, stayed for a while in Thursley, and Goble heard that he was looking for assistants for a workshop he was proposing to establish at Haslemere.

Goble seized this opportunity during which he became expert on the finer aspects of working in wood.

In 1937 Goble set up a small workshop of his own at Haslemere, making clavichords, spinets and recorders. But the growth of the business was interrupted by the Second World War, during which Goble did research work for the Admiralty.

After the war Goble, inspired by his wife Elizabeth Brown, a renowned harpsichordist, gradually dropped the manufacture of recorders in order to concentrate on keyboard instruments. His ambitions were also reflected in the acquisition of new and larger premises at Headington, Oxford, in 1947.

Until the late 1960s the firm had made modern harpsichords; later the emphasis changed to reproductions of ancient instruments. The current range includes a French double manual harpsichord 1730, a Flemish double manual harpsichord 1745, a German single manual harpsichord 1716, and an English bent-side spinet 1749.

Goble's quiet and modest exterior concealed remarkable determination and tenacity, without which the firm might never have survived its difficult early years, let alone attained its present eminence.

Goble had two sons, one of whom, together with a grandson, is carrying on the business.

Sources: Daily Telegraph (London, Eng.), Obit., 1991-1999

Return to Goble Artifacts
Copyright © 1997-2002 by Evelyn Goble Steen, All Rights Reserved
This page last updated on December 12, 2001