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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 26th November
Clementi 1810 For Sale
Early Broadwood For Sale
Proposed Early Music Course at
Making a Spinet by Traditional Methods
Many of us are by now aware of the news that Finchcocks is to close. Katrina has very kindly sent us this personal message.
Finchcocks Musical Museum:
End of an Era - looking forward
Finchcocks Musical Museum will close at the end of December 2015.
After 45 years of owning and running Finchcocks we have decided it is time for us stop.
It will be very sad to leave this lovely early eighteenth century house with its splendid acoustics and its beautiful setting, which is in many ways the perfect place to house a collection of period keyboard instruments. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their wonderful support and friendship. We have so enjoyed meeting you all and the annual gatherings have been one of our high spots.
The important point however is to reassure everyone that we have not abandoned our project of recreating and preserving the sound-world of the great baroque, classical and romantic composers. We will be retaining our Core Collection of playing instruments , as an Open Resource for musical events and research, we will be keeping the Finchcocks Charity for Musical Education to support the maintenance of the instruments and the events themselves. We also will be keeping and re-forming our team of players, teachers and technicians. We are at present exploring alternative locations and various interesting projects.
None of the help we have received has been wasted and all of it has been appreciated.
We have been so encouraged by the enthusiasm and response we have found for our mission to keep these precious instruments restored and used, and however much we will mourn leaving the beautiful and much loved Finchcocks as a centre for housing the Collection, we do see the next period as a step forward and not just a farewell.
We will keep you in touch with our plans for the future in due course.
With affectionate greetings to you all
Richard and Katrina Burnett
We all join in wishing Katrina and Richard the very best tor the future, and will offer them our support in whatever lies ahead.
In due course, the Finchcocks Page on this website will carry a short history of Finchcocks, and the highlights of the five memorable Square Piano Weekends that we have enjoyed there. We take this opportunity to thank them for their very special and friendly welcome, and for really making us feel 'at home'.
We will keep Friends informed of future plans as they develop
Clementi 1810 For Sale - With Sound Clips!
Please read the remarkable story of this beautiful Clementi, and even if you aren't going to buy it, please enjoy the music of Beethoven and Mozart, played by the owner. A 'first' for Friends of Square Pianos!
Details on the Sale Page
Broadwood 1807 For Sale
Regular visitors to Friends of Square Pianos will know by now that the early Broadwoods, with their beautiful brass under-dampers, are my favourite pianos. One of the last of the breed, number 9469, is now offered for sale. Some work is needed, including a complete re-string, but this does look like a very good proposition, and excellent value. In my experience, the later examples such as this one do retain the charming 'eighteenth-century' tone.
Please see the Sale Page for details.
Proposed Early Piano Course at
Penelope Cave (seen below, playing her 1795 Broadwood) has been asked to give an Early Piano course at Benslow Music, Hitchin. She has successfully given harpsichord courses at the same venue for a number of years. The proposed dates for the piano course are Tuesday 30th August to Thursday 1st September, but before this is confirmed, she would appreciate provisonal expressions of interest. Please see the Events Page for further details.
Collard & Collard 1840 For Sale
This handsome Collard & Collard is being sold to support the excellent Emmaeus Charity, and the work they do to end homelessness. Please see the Sale Page.
Making a Spinet by Traditional Methods
Even if you have no intention of making a spinet, or indeed any keyboard instrument, I strongly recommend that you buy and read this little booklet. It was written some years ago by the late John Barnes, and gives a wonderful insight into the way that early keyboard instruments were made. It is based on a detailed study of evidence from the famous Keene & Brackley spinet of c.1715, but the techniques described were surely in general use, and still have relevance to the first pianos.
Of course, I hope that you will make your own spinet (please see the Spinet Page) and in this case the booklet is absolutely essential to guide you through a logical and confident route to success.
At Greenwich this year, it was a pleasure to meet Jerry and John from 'Jacks Pipes and Hammers', and I am pleased to say that the new edition of the booklet is available from them at a lower price of just £8.95.
While you are on the website, please also note their huge selection of early music, also available by mail-order.
A New Recording of a Spinet by Thomas Haxby
We all love music, of course, but it is fair comment that this website is really about Early Keyboard Instruments, Square Pianos in particular. But Friends know that I extend this to include English Spinets, surely the forerunner of the Square Piano. So we are of course interested to hear and compare these instruments, either at first-hand, of by way of recordings.
I did recently say that I did not know of any recordings devoted to a particular spinet, so special thanks to Peter and Mary Berg for picking this up, and drawing our attention to a CD featuring their lovely Haxby spinet, c. 1760, and the music of our very own Thomas Arne. And yes, the CD does include variations on 'Rule, Britannia!'
Please see the Friends' Recordings page for details of this one.
A Very Fine Zumpe Piano - Sold!
It's not often that a piano by the first established London maker is offered for sale. It was a concert by JC Bach on one of Johannes Zumpe's first intruments that introduced the piano to the London society in the 1760s. It's also not often that I can say that I have seen one of the 'Sale' pianos, but it has been my privilege to play a few notes on this one. It is very fine indeed.
Please see the Sale Page for details of this very special piano,
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 highlights 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 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 email@example.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
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.