Welcome to Friends of Square Pianos!

Update May 27th

 

Finchcocks 2015

 

Making a Spinet

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 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.

 

Square Piano Weekend

Finchcocks 2015

8th - 10th May

     Safely back from  Finchcocks 2015.  Thank you to all those who came to make it such a great party.  We all had fun, I think, and made some new Friends.  Reports and pictures will be developed on these pages as soon as I have had time to get my act together.

  The centre-piece of the weekend was of course Martyna Kazmierczak's presentation for the prestigious Clementi Award.  Congratulations, Martyna!

 

  The theme of her presentation was the study of Haydn's visits to London, how it changed his music, and the relationship between rhetoric and musical expression.  It may sound a bit highbrow, but the theme was skilfully and charmingly presented, and enhanced with musical illustrations on a square piano by Longman & Broderip and the beautiful 1801 Broadwood grand.  A machine could play the notes as written, but there is so much more to musical expression than that.  The music talks to us, and Martyna showed us why we enjoy her playing so much.

 

  In the picture above, she is playing an illustration on the Longman & Broderip.  

 

  We were privileged to have Christopher and Frances Clementi with us for the day, and in the picture below they are in the front row, just to Martyna's right.  Below, Christopher Clementi presents the Award.

  A personal highlight for me was the début of the newly-restored 1704 Blunt spinet,  seen above, apparently (but wrongly) dated '1664'. This false inscription  misled scholars for more than a hundred years, and gave rise to the tale that Thomas Hitchcock (who did indeed have a hand in making this one) was active from 1664 to 1703.  

  Last seen in public at the 1885 exhibition in the Royal Albert Hall, it re-surfaced at an auction in Newcastle in 2014.  It has been my privilege to restore it to playing order, and I am very happy with the comments of several Friends that 'it doesn't look as if it has been restored at all.'

  More about this on the Spinet page in due course.  But it is my feeling that it has not been in proper working order for perhaps 250 years, so  I was very happy that Martyna was the first to play it properly for a very long time.  The sound is truly remarkable.

Making a Spinet

  There is no better way learning about Early Keyboard instruments than to make one. And it's a lot of fun.  There's also the bonus that with a bit of care, it should turn out well, and yield an instrument that plays decently.

 

  One of the higlights of  Finchcocks 2015 for me was the presentation of the 1704 Blunt spinet, which it has been my privilege to restore.  It was an emotional experience to work on an instrument that was making music when Queen Anne was on the throne, and when Bach and Handel were teenagers.  

 

  The next stage in this journey is for me to make one, or probably two replicas, as accurate as I can make them, and to be able to compare the sound of original and replica side-by-side.  

 

  There is no rush for this - I am supposed to be 'retired', and I am an amateur anyway, which means that I will take as long as I need to do the work to the best of my ability. 

 

  I will be recording the progess of the project on the Spinet Page.  The first four sections are on there now, and more will follow as the work progresses.  

 

  If you have any comments or questions, do please email me, David at friends.sp@btinternet.com  I do hope that you will join in the fun and have a go - two Friends are involved already!  I cannot promise to solve all problems, but at least you will have someone to talk to.

 

Go to the Spinet Page

 

Broadwood Grand c.1862 For Sale 

Not a square, I know, but I've made an exception for this fine nine-foot grand.  Please see the Sale Page

Érard 1804 - Sold! 

Another one for the Sale Page

Broadwood 1797 For Sale 

Please see the Sale Page for details of this latest arrival

Broadwood 1841 For Sale 

This fine-looking Broadwood is also on  Sale Page, along with several others.

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.

Square Piano Tech

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.

 

www.cats.org.uk/wellingborough

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© David Hackett