In April 2018, something over 40 Friends of Square Pianos came together for our second party in my home village of Chelveston (Northamptonshire). For 2019, the Village Hall is booked for 13th April (the weekend before Easter).
40 or so is the best number to allow space for the instruments that we will be assembling, and for our informal café-style seating. We already have a provisional full house again, but please let me know if you would like to join the reserve list. As before, the fee for the day will be £25, which includes tea, coffee, hot cross buns, cookies, and a substantial buffet lunch (more than half the money goes on the food).
The hall will be open from 8 a.m. to give people time to unload their instruments and for everyone to have tea, hot-cross buns, and a chat. We aim to start the 'programme' at 10 o'clock. As well as tea-breaks, there will be a substantial buffet lunch at 12.30. There is no bar, but we have glasses, and you are welcome to bring your own bottles.
For those coming from further away, there will be a chance to unload and tune instruments on the Friday afternoon, and there will be an evening meal in the Star & Garter at 7.00.
As you have probably gathered by now, this party is mostly about making friends, chatting, drinking tea (or whatever) and eating. But there will be lovely instruments and music as well.
Looking forward to another good party!
Instruments and Programme (Provisional)
First of all, we will have an 'Italian' harpsichord with an interesting story. It was one of the items in the Colt Collection sale, and I was one of very few people to see past the somewhat dodgy outer case to the beautiful (if neglected) harpsichord within. And furthermore to guess that the maker 'DA' was none other than Derek Adlam. This was the only harpsichord of this type to be made at Finchcocks, after an original instrument brought in by a client for restoration. Fortunately, we were able to win the bidding for this one, and it is now with Derek at Welbeck, where (after making good the damage caused by damp at Bethersden) he is completing it in line with his original intentions. Completion of the work is promised in time for next April, when Derek looks forward to showing it to us and saying a few words about it.
This fine 1789 Haxby piano was formerly part of the Colt Collection, and now belongs to Luke Bradley. It demonstrates that in every way, Thomas Haxby was at least equal to the London makers with whose work we are more familiar. Some restoration work will be complete by April, and Luke will be playing some music for us. He will also have a story to tell!
If there is room, I might bring my own 'Viennese' grand piano along for what will probably be its only ever outing. So far, it has literally never moved - it stands exactly where it was built. It might not be the best piano in the world, but it is the best one in Chelveston, and it was a lot of fun to make; I hope to share this enjoyment with you. Its life began in a local sawmill, where I bought the huge cherry tree from which the case is made. It does work, and perhaps someone would like to play a tune for us?
The 'Revival' instruments have been with us for the best part of a hundred years now, and having been deeply unfashionable since about 1970, there are now signs that they are possibly due for a revival of their own. The best of them were beautifully constructed and durable, and Olaf van Hees has recently refurbished and decorated this Morley virginal. This will be a chance for us to hear the result, and no doubt there will be a lively discussion!
We can now reveal the identity of the Mystery Piano! It is the beautiful 1775 Pringle that was sold at auction late last year. Archibald Pringle is recorded as a maker of spinets; one or possibly two of his instruments survive in the USA. This, the only known piano, shares the 'skunk-tail' sharps often found on earlier spinets.
It is a rare privilege to be able to construct a replica of a historic instrument alongside the original. This is the 1704 Edward Blunt spinet, the notorious '1664' which caused so much confusion amongst historians in the nineteenth, twentieth, and even into the twenty-first centuries. It appeared in the 1885 Exhibition in the Royal Albert Hall, but was not seen in public again until its re-emergence at auction in 2014. It does indeed carry the signature of Thomas Hitchcock as Maker.
More to follow!
Some pictures from our party in 2018 - The Hall:
.. and a reminder of the fourteen instruments that we assembled for Chelveston 2018 - here's a picture of about half of them...
...and here's the other half. Altogether there were six clavichords, one clavisimbalum, four spinets, and three square pianos.
The papers presented at our 2017 Spinet Day are still available: