Welcome to

Friends of Square Pianos!

This is a website for anyone who owns, or would like to own, a square piano, or possibly a spinet. Or anyone who is just interested, possibly to learn a little more.

 

Please get in touch with me, David, on friends.sp@btinternet.com with questions, comments, or just to say 'Hello'.  This is a site for everyone, especially those new to the world of Square Pianos.  And of course, we very much appreciate the support of those with more experience.

 

Update 19th April

 

The Harpsichord and Pianoforte Magazine

 

Yaniewicz & Green For Sale

 

Dolmetsch Octave Spinet For Sale

 

Derek Adlam at Harlaxton Manor

 

Chelveston 2019

 

Tim Harding - Obituary

The Harpsichord and Pianoforte Magazine

We are happy to announce that this magazine will soon be relaunched with a new editor, Francis Knights.   To celebrate this, a 'virtual issue' is being offered to Friends of Square Pianos. Details are on the flyer below.

HF VI i trailer order form.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [702.3 KB]

Yaniewicz & Green For Sale

Please see the Sale Page for details of this beautiful instrument, which carries the name and signature of the famous Polish composer and violinist Feliks Janiewicz.

Dolmetsch Octave Spinet

This Dolmetsch octave spinet Is in need of restoration, but should make an attractive little instrument.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

Concerts at Harlaxton Manor

For the 27th year, Derek Adlam has organised a series of concerts at in the splendid setting of Harlaxton Manor (near Grantham) in aid of the Red Cross.  For the second of these concerts, on May 31, Derek will be playing his 1809 Broadwood Grand, and accompanying the soloist Kristi Bryson.

Please support these concerts if you can; full details are in the flyer below.

Harlaxton 2019 flier.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [473.6 KB]

Chelveston 2019

We enjoyed a record turnout of Friends for our Party on Saturday -  Thanks to all who came, to make the day the enjoyable occasion it was. Special thanks to those who are brought instruments - there were seventeen in total.  Perhaps the highlight for me was the delightful duet on two of my spinets, played by Lizzie and Chris.

It was good to see some new faces, and perhaps the most important part of the day was chatting and drinking all those cups of tea.

More on the Chelveston 2109 page soon

Tim Harding

 

An important and valued Friend of the Square Piano world, Tim Harding, finally lost a protracted battle with cancer on 4 April at the Royal Trinity Hospice hospice in Clapham. With his passing, the piano world has lost one of the shrewdest and most capable contributors to our growing  understanding of how these curious oblong artefacts developed.

 

Please see the special Tim Harding page for the full appreciation.

 

The Keene & Brackley Spinet

Some happier news is that after spending some time in Chelveston for rebuilding of the soundboard, the famous Keene and Brackley spinet has arrived safely at its new home in South Carolina.

 

There were some anxious moments (to put it mildly) with the Port Authorities in Baltimore, but after skilful negotiation by Myrtle (of G&R Removals) and Tom Strange himself, the problems were overcome.  However, the prospect of getting antique ivory keyboards into the USA is looking increasingly difficult and risky.

However, all is well now, and after careful packing and shipping by G&R, the spinet needed only minor adjustments to the tuning to play again.  It sounds lovely, with a lyrical rather solemn tone, and is now set for a long and active future with the Carolina Music Museum.

David Loeschman c. 1810 FtGH

David Loeschman was a remarkable character.  Apart from this one, only one other piano carrying his name is recorded, a cabinet piano last heard of in Den Haag. 

 

  But perhaps he should be better remembered as an inventor.  Musicians have wrestled with the problems of tuning and temperament for hundreds of years, and one obvious idea to distinguish between for example G sharp and A flat is to provide more than twelve keys in the octave.  These are often called 'enharmonic' keyboards, and a number of historical examples exist.  The nameboard of this instrument describes him as 'Inventor and Manufacturer of the Patent Enharmonic Grand...' 

A summary of his 1809 patent, in his own words, is given below:

This interesting piano, a good prospect for restoration, is generously offered Free to Good Home.  It is the owner's preference that it should remain in the UK.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

Piano Auctions Sale April 4th

The 1776 Pohlman sold for the upper estimate of £2,500, and the Webley for £820 mid-estimate.  Sadly, the interesting Henry Tull spinet failed to attract any bids.  Please see the Auction Page for more pictures and details.

An Exceptional Broadwood 1812 For Sale

This is a rare example of Broadwood's early six-octave squares with a compass descending to CC.  It is in exceptional condition, professionally restored, and ready to play.  A sound-clip is avaialble.  

Please see the Sale Page for details.

De-Ivorising

  It's always fun to invent a new word: although we won't find

'de-ivorising' in the dictionary, we know exactly what it means.

  With the approach of the UK restrictions on the sale of ivory (see the Ivory Page for details) we might consider the implications for each of us personally.  We will soon be able to register our old instruments, which will mean that they can be sold legally after the regulations come into force, later this year.  But the exemption from the ban applies to musical instruments made before 1975, and many of us have instruments made after this date by Morley and other professional makers, or indeed by ourselves, which have ivory keys.  Even if they were made a few years earlier than this, it might be difficult to prove. We should note that the age of the ivory itself has no bearing on the case; no doubt partly because of the difficulty of proving its age, I see no mention in the Bill allowing for the use of antique ivory.  There are also considerations of CITES, and so we should be actively considering replacing the ivory on our modern instruments with an accceptable substitute.  

  The second of my instruments to receive attention has been a spinet made in 2006.  This origially had boxwood sharps with thin ivory slips (recycled from old uprights) on top, as seen in the upper notes in the picture above.  For the update, I decided to make 'skunktail' sharps, as favoured by Thomas Hitchcock in particular.  These are sandwiches of Eforyn and ebony, prepared on the bandsaw, and finished by sanding. 

 

 I am very pleased with the result, which looks and feels better than the original.  Making the sharps was simple enough, but I should make two observations:  As I noticed with making the sharps for the replica Blunt spinet, the Elforyn has a severe blunting effect on bandsaw blades, which will not cut wood afterwards!  I believe that this is due to the fine mineral filler in the resin.  Also noticeable was a very fine white dust (probably the same filler) which got everywhere, and clogged the filter on the vacuum-extractor.  The bandsaw was directly connected to the extractor, but use of a belt-sander was more of a problem.  We all know that we should wear proper masks for dusty operations, but in view of the very fine nature of this powder, I suggest that it is particularly important in this case.  

Making a Spinet

  Some of you may have been following the construction - starting from a pile of wood - of this replica of a remarkable and important instrument.  The spinet is now complete and playing well, and has gone to its new home in Scotland; a second replica has joined the Carolina Music Museum.   Please see the Spinet Page for the story.

The Spinet Page

  We all love those beautiful English Spinets, and now they have a Page of their own, where I hope to encourage interest, ownership, and amateur makers.

About the 'Webmaster' (David Hackett)

My only claim to respectability is that Carl Dolmetsch once offered to take me on as an apprentice.  This was in 1962, when I had just shown him my first clavichord, and been his guest at Haslemere.  However, he also advised me that it would be better to go to University, and I accepted his advice.  Early Keyboard Instruments have therefore remained a hobby, and now happily retired, I am able to spend a bit more time enjoying them - and encouraging others, I hope..

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© David Hackett