Booking Now Open
Planning is well in hand for Finchcocks 2015, and we can confirm that the dates will be Saturday and Sunday May 9th - 10th. Additionally, some of us will be at Finchcocks on the afternoon of Friday 8th, and Friends are welcome to join us, to spend some quiet time with the instruments, or even to help with moving the chairs!
The Booking List is open now, so please email me, David, at
to reserve your place. As before, numbers will be limited to about 35 - 40 to preserve the informal atmosphere.
It will of course be an occasion for many of us to meet again, but we particularly encourage new Friends to join the party. There will be a few experts there, but the atmosphere is completely informal. It is the ideal opportunity for those who have just bought their first square piano or spinet, or are considering doing so, or who are just interested, to come along, to meet people, and to chat. Finchcocks is a beautiful and relaxing setting, and we are privileged to be able to enjoy and play the fine instruments in the collection.
At previous Finchcocks weekends, we have been enchanted by the sensitive playing of Martyna Kazmierczak, and we are delighted that this year's event will be the opportunity for her to make her presentation for the Clementi Award. This will take the form of a short lecture on square pianos, with musical interludes. The pianos she will play will of course include one by Clementi, and we are delighted that Christopher Clementi will be able to join the party.
Martyna has also promised to play for us in the evening, so this will be a busy day for her!
Marie Kent is an enthusiastic researcher into the history of the early piano in England, and we are delighted that she will give her lecture on the Wills of a number of the leading makers - there is much to be learned from them.
English Spinets are of course really square pianos - apart from the facts that they are neither square nor pianos. Or perhaps it should be the other way round: for about a hundred years from 1680, the elegant wing-shaped spinet was the domestic keyboard instrument.
And in any case, we all love them, so no excuses are necessary for making these lovely instruments another of our themes for the day.
The instrument above is by Edward Blunt, dated 1704, and apparently made (at least in part) by Thomas Hitchcock, and signed by him.
Until this year, this instrument had not been seen in public since the 1885 exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall. Then, the inscription '1664' on the nameboard gave rise to much confusion and false information. Another Blunt spinet (correctly) dated 1703 and signed by Thomas Hitchcock was known at the time, and this led to the statement in Hipkins' 1896 book that "Thomas Hitchcock's written dates found within instruments made by him cover the long period between 1664 and 1703". This was picked up by James (1930) and by Boalch (1956 and 1974). It was not until 'Boalch III' (1995) that Charles Mould indicated a problem with the logic, and Peter Mole (2009) investigated further. But even then, this spinet, the key piece of evidence, was still in hiding. It finally emerged in the spring of 2014, and I am happy to say that a Friend and I are the new owners, It is currently in my care and undergoing a gentle restoration. We hope that it will be restored to playing condition, for the first time in at least a hundred years, and possibly much more, in time for Finchcocks 2015.
Other spinets (originals and replicas) will share the stage, including a presentation by the leading builder and restorer Malcolm Rose (his invaluable range of wires is just a sideline...) And this will be an opportunity to share what we know, and to discuss and play these lovely instruments.
It is not too early to book your place now, so please email me, David, at email@example.com
Payments this year should be made to Friends of Square Pianos, in advance if possible please. The cost is a single rate of £60.00, and this includes quiet time on the Friday afternoon if you wish, the whole of the Saturday programme including the evening music, and private access to Finchcocks before the normal Sunday Open Day. This will start at 11.00, and Friends are welcome to stay for this as well.
To make a payment, there is a PayPal link at the bottom of this page. It accepts most credit cards if you do not have a PayPal account of your own.
Tea and coffee on the Saturday are included, but all meals are extra (payable directly to Finchcocks at the time) . We will, though, be taking bookings for the Summer Buffet on the Saturday evening, for about £18.00 per head, I believe.
More to follow soon!