This is what the oldest playable harpsichord sounds like

Catalina Vicens plays the National Music Museum's ca. 1530 Neapolitan harpsichord.Anthony Jones/courtesy National Music Museum, Vermillion, S.D.

July 06, 2015

A harpsichord that entertained the elites of Italy in the mid-1500s has been restored by a South Dakota museum and will soon bring its sound to 21st-century ears.

The National Music Museum in Vermillion, S.D., worked with Chilean-born keyboardist Catalina Vicens to produce the instrument's first full-length recording.

The crowd-funded project resulted in a 20-track record that will be available for all in January.

Vicens, who resides in Switzerland, says the record's compositions would have been performed in Naples when the instrument was in its youth.

Museum director Cleveland Johnson says the recording is the equivalent of a "sound document." He says it will allow the facility to share a piece of its vast collections with the public, which often wants to know what the instruments on display sound like.