Welcome to Friends of Square Pianos! This is a sort of on-line club for anyone who owns, or would like to own, a square piano. Or anyone who is just interested, possibly to learn a little more.
Please get in touch with me, David, on email@example.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.
Square Piano Weekend
9th - 11th May
We can confirm that our informal Square Piano Weekend will take place at Finchcocks from My 9th - 11th. We hope that new Friends will come and join the party - please see the Finchcocks Page for further details, and to reserve your place now.
New Home Assured for Feliks Janiewicz
Regular visitors to the site may remember this one. In July last year, a piano by Feliks Janiewicz was introduced on this page, and on the Sale Page. The piano had been rescued by an enterprising Friend called Sally at an auction in the South of England, where it was attracting little interest. She hoped that someone would offer it at good home, and would look after it in the meantime.
The name on the piano is Feliks Yaniewicz (or Janiewicz) who was well known as a violinist in the early years of the nineteenth century. He was associated with the composer and impresario Domenico Corri, and also with the piano-maker Thomas Loud. The piano itself was probably made by Loud in London, although it is essentially a Clementi, and could have been made in the Clementi workshops. The painting is indeed identical to that on many Clementis; the left-hand half is identical to the sweet pea design used for the header of this website, whereas the right-hand half is the 'morning glory' motif. A few other 'Yaniewicz' pianos are known.
Perhaps Sally hoped that the little red shoes were a lucky omen? But what she did not know was that this is a very rare, possibly unique, example of an ingenious patent for a 'Self Adjusting Pianoforte', in which a set of strong springs provided (theoretically) constant tension for the strings, which would therefore never need tuning.
Amazingly, the mechanism is more-or-less intact, and the piano could probably be made to play again. We now know, of course, that the idea was not widely adopted - I suspect that there may have been issues with friction over the nut. But the early nineteenth century was an age of great innovation and invention, and it is surely important that examples of these ingenious patents should be preserved if possible.
Finding a home was proving difficult, however, until I had a chance encounter with a Polish pianist, Katarzyna Drogosz, at Piano Auctions' September sale. Kasia is associated with the development of a new educational resource and collection called 'Fortepianarium' at Zabrze, near Katowice.
Feliks Janiewicz was born in Vilnius, now the capital of Lithuania, of course, but then part of Poland. So this was a chance to bring home part of Poland's musical history. Kasia promised to follow this up.
Meanwhile, Sally had an approach from a film company, to hire the piano as a prop for a film, to be released later this year, and called 'Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies' (Yes, honestly - and it's quite a big budget affair - please Google it after you've read this.) So the piano had a chance to be famous!
We are happy to say that the piano returned safely from its movie adventure, and in December it was taken to Zabrze, where it is now in the Fortepianarium under the care of Professor Marek Toporowski.
It's an interesting little story, and Friends of Square Pianos is happy to have played some part in bringing all the pieces together.
There are more details and pictures of the piano still on the Sale Page, and you may also wish to Google the Fortepianarium.
Specialist Musical Instrument Auctions
The Christopher Hogwood Collection
We were all saddened to hear of the death on September 12th of the great musician Christopher Hogwood.
He had assembled a fine collection of twenty-six keyboard instruments, including what is probably the best collection of clavichords anywhere in the world. They will be sold in aid of charity by Gardiner Houlgate of Corsham, near Bath, on Thursday 12th March 2015. There is certain to be considerable interest. It is worth noting that the collection was intended to be played, and therefore without guarantee we can say that most of them should be in perfect order - in some cases follwing restoration by the leading experts. The only problem that I know about for sure is the recent sounboard failure of the Culliford harpsichord - the sort of thing that can happen to anyone at any time.
There is only one square piano in the collection, but a fine one at that, the 1773 Pohlman seen above. For further details of this, please go to the Auction Page or click on the image above. Details of other favourite instruments (starting with the Hancock spinet) will be added during the coming days.
The problems relating to the sale and import of ivory to the USA remain a problem for the time being, although some good news is theoretically possible before the auction. However, it is worth noting that of the twenty six instruments, only five are certain to have ivory keys. For many of the others, it depends whether the German makers used bone or not, as well as the modern makers (Dolmetsch, Adlam Burnett, etc.) who could have used bone or synthetic material for the sharps on 'black' keyboards. I will try to find out more.
A good turnout of Friends for the viewing day on December 10th - fun with the pianos, a good gossip, and lunch in the pub. What could be better?
Please see the Auction Page for the results of the sale.
Thanks again to Terry, Richard, and Sean, of Piano auctions for making us so welcome.
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.
Please take time to visit our sister website www.squarepianotech.com This is run by our Friend Tom Strange in America, and is rapidly growing into a treasure-store of permanent wisdom.
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..
My real work is with homeless cats now, though - I have the privilege to be Co-ordinator of the local voluntary branch of Cats Protection.