The world’s oldest surviving firm of piano makers, UK’s John Broadwood & Sons, has found the instrument used by Gustav Holst to compose The Planets.

  • The Broadwood piano was bought by St Paul’s Girls’ School for Holst in 1913 and used by the composer during the time he composed The Planets.
  • The instrument will be honoured with a special performance at St Paul’s Girls’ School on 21st September 2019; the same day as Holst’s birthday. The Planets will be performed on the instrument by piano duo John and Fiona York.
  • Additional concerts will take place at Finchcocks, Kent and the Holst Birthplace Museum, Cheltenham.

On 8th November 1913 the Broadwood porters trundled a brand new, grand piano into the newly-built music wing at St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, London. The piano was a fine example of the Broadwood Number 5 Drawing Room model, of length 7’ 6’’ (229cm). It had been ordered by the School for placement in a specially soundproofed teaching studio, recently created for their increasingly famous head of music, composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934).

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The serial number of the piano in question is 51868; with casework in rosewood and a special steel ‘barless’ frame – a construction feature unique to Broadwood. Its cost to the School was 225 guineas (less a generous discount for another piano taken in part exchange!). Number 51868 is photographed, in its studio setting, opposite page 42 of Imogen Holst’s famous biography of her father, published 1938.

2217742443_7b28c47f1f_bMost of Holst’s composing inspiration took place whilst he was engrossed at his long table in the School’s soundproof studio. Although he was not a brilliant pianist (his technique was severely hindered by neuritis in his right hand), the Broadwood grand was instrumental in helping him create one of the greatest masterpieces of twentieth-century orchestral music: The Planets. Holst would regularly invite two of the School’s music staff – Nora Day and Vally Lasker – to play to him excerpts from the fledgling Planets on the Broadwood grand to hand, just to hear how the composition was progressing.

It is clear that the Broadwood in question was long regarded as the ‘flagship’ of the School’s fleet of pianos, being moved for important concerts within the School. Broadwood’s: records show that their porters were hired to trundle the grand on at least 17 occasions between 1913 and 1938 from Holst’s room to the Singing Hall or Great Hall, and back.

The fascinating provenance of the instrument was only re-discovered by chance in September 2016, when a routine search through Broadwood’s company’s records proved beyond doubt that grand piano No. 51868 was indeed the one used by Holst at the School. Thanks to the kind cooperation of the piano’s present owner, Katie Smith, the grand piano will once again be publicly seen and heard this year.

The celebrations

Broadwoods are delighted to sponsor a number of recitals to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first public performance of The Planets. The highlight will be a concert at St Paul’s Girls’ School on 21st September (Holst’s birthday), featuring the intriguing piano duet version of the suite, performed on the very same Broadwood instrument used in the piece’s creation one hundred years ago. It should be a remarkable experience to see and hear this treasured instrument as well as The Planets as Holst would have experienced it. Additional performances will take place at Finchcocks piano school, Kent, and the Holst Birthplace Museum in Cheltenham. (Full listings are below)

About Broadwoods

John Broadwood & Sons Ltd is the world’s oldest surviving piano firm, founded in 1728. The company has held a Warrant for supply and maintenance of pianos to the various Royal Households since the reign of George II and can name among its illustrious customers the composers Haydn, Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, Elgar, Holst and Vaughan Williams. The company continues to make, tune and repair pianos at its workshop in Lythe, near Whitby, north Yorkshire. The present-day directors of the company, which is an independent enterprise, include three members of the Laurence family, whose ancestors had worked for many generations in a technical capacity in John Broadwood & Sons’ Soho factory from 1787 until 1922.

Event Listings

Saturday, 21st September 2019, 3pm

Holst Birthday Concert

St Paul’s Girls’ School, Brook Green, London, W6 7BS

John and Fiona York will perform the piano duet version of The Planets on Holst’s piano with Heidi Pegler (soprano) And the Paulina Voices choir from the School.

With an introduction from Dr Alastair Laurence.

Exhibition of ephemera in Holst’s soundproof studio throughout the day.

Admission: £12. Students 18 and under: free entry.

Tickets: holstbirthday.eventbrite.co.uk

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Saturday, 28th September 2019

The Vaulted Concert Room, Finchcocks, Goudhurst, Kent TN17 1HH

An evening with Gershwin and The Planets.

The Planets’ Suite will be performed in its duet version by Jong-Gyung Park and nthony Zerpa-Falcon on a 1920 vintage ‘model 5’ Broadwood grand (identical to Holst’s)

Admission: £10.

Tickets: finchcocks.com

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Two concerts: Sunday 13th October; 2pm and 7pm

The Holst Birthplace Museum, 4 Clarence Road, Cheltenham, GL52 2AY

Greg Tassell (tenor) and Gary Branch (piano)

Inspiration from England: music by Holst, Elgar, Sullivan, Stamford, Vaughan Williams and Britten.

Admission: £20 including wine and canapés

Booking essential: 01242 524846 Or contact curator@holstmuseum.org.uk

 

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(source: press release)

246x0wTido Music, the innovative music learning app, has partnered with prestigious conservatoire the Royal College of Music (RCM), London. Committed to supporting music education, Tido will fund RCM student subscriptions to the app until 31st March 2020. Throughout the course of their subscriptions, students will use Tido Music to assist their studies and will be asked to give feedback on the app, contributing to its future development. The initiative will be extended to the RCM Junior Department next month.

Available as an iPad app or via desktop browser, Tido Music provides almost 10,000 piano and vocal scores from world-leading publishers, including Urtext editions from Bärenreiter and Edition Peters. Students will be able to find and access repertoire instantly and listen to professional audio recordings synced to the notation.

Piano accompaniment recordings are included with the vocal repertoire, enabling singers to practise with the piano part at any time, and innovative pitch-shift and speed-shift tools allow the accompaniments to be adjusted for individual needs. Additional audio tools such as looping will further enhance practice sessions. Tido’s proprietary technology means that the app can even listen to and follow pianists as they play, turning the pages of the score automatically.

Students will also discover rich educational materials such as video masterclasses from concert pianists and scholarly commentaries on the music. The practical and artistic insights offered in the masterclasses may help inform students’ understanding and interpretation of their repertoire.

Stephen Johns, Artistic Director of the Royal College of Music, said: ‘We are delighted to be collaborating with Tido Music, giving our students the chance to be at the cutting edge of music learning technology and benefit from the app’s many innovative features. Working with digital scores is a valuable experience in itself as the music sector becomes increasingly digitally focused. Through the Royal College of Music’s various digital development initiatives we are ensuring that our students are well equipped for 21st century music careers.’

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Brad Cohen, Founder of Tido, commented: ‘Using technology to enhance music education is at the heart of what we believe in at Tido. We’re thrilled to be partnering with such an illustrious institution as we continue to develop our product and further tailor it to the needs of music students. We look forward to working with RCM students directly throughout the course of their free subscription.’


Tido Music is a revolutionary digital subscription service for pianists and singers. Available as an iPad app or via desktop browser, the service provides sheet music, audio recordings, videos, interactive practice tools, written commentaries and images. For students, teachers, and amateur to professional performers, Tido Music offers unparalleled guidance and inspiration.

Tido was founded in 2013 when conductor and editor, Brad Cohen, collaborated with one of the world’s leading music publishers, Edition Peters. Kathryn Knight, former Publishing Director at Faber Music, joined the company as CEO in 2014. In 2015 Tido partnered with Faber Music to create the award-winning ‘Mastering the Piano with Lang Lang app’, and Tido’s flagship app Tido Music was released in late 2016.

Tido works with renowned publishers, artists, exam boards and institutions across the world including Bärenreiter, Edition Peters, Faber Music, Trinity College London and Wellington College International Shanghai.

Tido Music costs £4.99 per month after a 30-day free trial as standard.


Source: Tido Music press release

8-16 June 2019 – Clarendon Muse, Watford, Hertfordshire

The inaugural Master Music Piano Festival & Competition takes place across two weekends in June 2019 at Clarendon Muse in Watford and aims to promote local talent by offering young musicians a superb platform to experience and participate in fine music-making.

Featuring a set of unmissable recitals by leading young pianists of their generation including Ji Liu, Nicholas McCarthy, Artur Cimirro and Michael Harvey. The Master Music Festival will also host competitions scheduled for all ages and levels of performance ability together with a special Children’s Concert. Alongside much-loved core repertoire, the featured artists will also showcase their own new compositions and arrangements with their published sheet music available.

The Festival is the brainchild of Benjamin Williams, Director Of Master Music Publications, a new publishing house designed to promote original compositions, transcriptions, interpretative editions and educational resources by the world’s finest contemporary musicians. As well as the beautifully produced environmentally-friendly scores, Master Music Publications offers a wealth of additional information, biographies, context and a link to an online study guide with useful tips, videos and a discussion section.

Festival Programme:

Nicholas McCarthy – Piano Recital – June 8th, 7pm

British pianist, Nicholas McCarthy was born without his right hand and only began to play the piano at the age of fourteen. He went on to study at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London, becoming the first left-hand-only pianist to graduate in the college’s history. A passionate educator and motivational speaker, McCarthy champions left-hand alone repertoire, music that developed rapidly following the First World War as a result of injuries suffered on the battlefield. Expect an awe-inspiring recital of repertoire ranging from Bartok to Gershwin via Scriabin and Strauss. Notes McCarthy: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the first Master Music Festival and to be able to play alongside other esteemed artists from the piano world. As one of the few disabled artists in the classical industry, it gives me great pleasure to be able to share the music that I love so much with new audiences and hopefully even inspire people along the way”.

Artur Cimirro – Piano Recital – June 9th, 7pm

Brazilian pianist, Artur Cimirro enjoys an eclectic career as a composer, arranger, writer and art critic. He has composed works for piano, orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, opera and ballet and his transcriptions and arrangements, dedicated to the left hand, deal with the exploration of new horizons in piano technique. They include notably ambitious projects, such as Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Etudes for the Left Hand Alone. As part of his recital, Cimirro will present a striking array of his own compositions and arrangements.

Michael Harvey – Piano Recital – June 15th, 7pm

A compelling and sensitive musician with a rare combination of intelligence, flair and charm” is how acclaimed pianist Leslie Howard described pianist, composer and teacher, Michael Harvey. Harvey has dazzled audiences at prestigious venues around the world with his virtuosic technique, individual sound and charismatic personality. His recital is bound to offer pianistic brilliance, creative sensitivity and a kaleidoscope of colours. Says Harvey: “I am looking forward to communicating with the audience at the inaugural Master Music Festival by sharing stories, pieces and some of my own compositions, several of which will be world premieres!

Ji Liu – Piano Recital – June 16th, 7pm

Praised by Pianist Magazine for his “sensitive and unpretentious musicality” and described as “a major talent” by Classical Source, Chinese pianist, Ji Liu has positioned himself as one of the brightest stars in classical music today. In addition to topping the classical charts on numerous occasions, he also delights audiences around the world, from the Royal Albert Hall in London to Carnegie Hall in New York with his thoughtful and intelligent recitals. Be sure to expect a sensational evening of music making at the highest level. Ji Liu commented: “It is my great privilege to work with Master Music Publications and to be involved with the very first festival. It is encouraging to see both new and core classical music presented in the festival and how they can meet and support each other. I very much look forward to sharing my musical thoughts and performing for everyone.

Children’s Piano Concert – June 8th, 3pm

This eagerly anticipated children’s concert will feature pianist Ji Liu, who will perform a collection of fun pieces for piano, including Schumann’s Kinderszenen and a narrated solo piano performance of Prokofiev’s popular ‘Peter and the Wolf’. This will be an enjoyable, educational event for children.

Piano Competitions – June 8th 4-6pm and June 15th – 2-6pm

On June 8th and 15th, the festival will feature piano competitions for all ages and abilities. Each participant will receive valuable and constructive written feedback. Medals, certificates and prizes up to £150 will be awarded to participants who achieve 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The adjudicator will be Steinway and Classic FM/Global artist, Ji Liu. Entry forms are available here

Benjamin Williams, Director Of Master Music Publications added: “It has been very exciting and a great privilege for me to bring these incredibly talented international artists together for this unique festival that all can enjoy”.

Venue: Clarendon Muse, 70 Rickmansworth Rd, Watford WD18 7JA

Full details of the festival

One of the world’s best pianists, Sir András Schiff, joins the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to perform some of world’s best piano music.

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Written 22 years apart, Brahms’ only piano concertos are snapshots of his life. The first is youthful, raw and expressive; the second is mature, structured and wiser. Both embody radical ideas of the 19th century, when revolution was in the air and artists joined political movements to overturn the old order.

The OAE performs these blockbuster piano concertos over two nights with Sir András Schiff, an extraordinary pianist and one of the world’s finest musicians. To complement the piano concertos, they also delve into music by Brahm’s mentor and inspiration, Robert Schumann exploring the complex interplay between political turmoil and personal anguish in composer’s life.

Pre-concert talks, Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall 6pm

New to Brahms? Enjoy an introduction to Brahms’ Piano Concertos at a free pre-concert talk by presenter Katy Hamilton.

On the second night, Dr Robert Samuels of the Open University will explore Brahms’ relationship with Schumann in a pre-concert talk

Brahms Piano Concertos with Sir András Schiff

Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 March 2019, Royal Festival Hall, 7pm

Further information and tickets


source: OAE press

(Photo: Yutaka Suzuki/Askonas Holt)

The Cross-Eyed Pianist site has been selected for inclusion in the the UK Web Archive at the British Library.

Established in 2010 initially as a place where I could record thoughts about returning to the piano after a long absence, the repertoire I was working on and concerts I attended, the site has evolved over the past 9 years into a varied “magazine” of articles on piano playing and pianism, repertoire, performing, performance psychology, musicians’ health and well-being, teaching, concert and CD reviews, interviews with musicians, composers and conductors, guest posts, and more esoteric musings on being a musician in the 21st century, and classical music in general.

I am hugely grateful to everyone who reads, supports and contributes to The Cross-Eyed Pianist.

Frances Wilson, author/editor

February 2019


The UK Web Archive was established in 2004 to capture and archive websites from the UK domain and across the web, responding to the challenge of a digital black hole in the nation’s memory. It contains specially selected websites that represent different aspects of UK heritage on the web, as well as important global events.

Extensive learning and engagement activities take piano out of the concert hall and into communities 

Outstanding young scholars from Lang Lang International Music Foundation also perform

“Artistry of that kind is rare in pianists of any age; to find it in a 20-year-old is simply astounding.”
The Daily Telegraph

Following his win at the Leeds International Piano Competition in September 2018, 21-year-old pianist Eric Lu returns to ‘The Leeds’ for Leeds Piano Festival, with recitals in Leeds and London. World-renowned pianists Steven Osborne and Barry Douglas also perform recitals, with Osborne leading a masterclass with Young Scholars from the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, building on the ongoing relationship between the Foundation and The Leeds.

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The Festival continues the much-enriched programme of events that surrounded the 2018 Competition, allowing audiences to engage with the piano and The Leeds beyond the triennial Competition. As part of The Leeds’ commitment to developing new and exciting ways of bringing the piano to as wide an audience as possible, the Festival – successfully inaugurated in 2018 – will again comprise many learning and engagement activities, including the return of the ‘Discover the Piano: Piano Fantasia’ on 28 March – The Leeds’ biggest primary school event to date, reaching more than 1,000 schoolchildren. The Young Scholars also participate in learning activities in primary schools and adult care settings in both Leeds and London – the latter once again in partnership with Wigmore Hall’s learning and participation programme – inspiring music lovers young and old with their prodigious talents.

Leeds Piano Festival recitals 

Eric Lu’s return to The Leeds is part of the revolutionary prize package at The Leeds last year, designed with career development in mind. The prize also included world-wide management with Askonas Holt, a release of his Leeds-winning performance on major label Warner Classics (released to much acclaim in November 2018), opening the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2018/19 season, mentoring with jury members and more. Lu performs Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 – a piece he performed in the Competition semi-finals and released as a single on Warner Classics following his win – as well as works by Mozart, Brahms and Handel.

Former Royal Philharmonic Society ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ Steven Osborne explores Beethoven’s final three piano sonatas. Osborne is a renowned interpreter of Beethoven’s music, not least from his critically-acclaimed recordings of the composer’s piano sonatas on the Hyperion label, and these recitals offer a rare opportunity to see him perform in an intimate setting.

Internationally-renowned pianist Barry Douglas pairs miniatures with more expansive works in both halves of his programme for the Festival, contrasting Tchaikovsky’s vignettes The Seasons with his Grande Sonata in G major, before pairing Rachmaninov’s Six Moments Musicaux with Schubert’s intense Sonata in A minor.

The Festival also showcases three Young Scholars from the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, developing the continuing relationship between the Foundation and the Leeds. Three exceptional young pianists, Aliya Alsafa, Jaspar Heymann and Shuheng Zhang – handpicked and mentored by Lang Lang, the Competition’s Global Ambassador –perform recitals at both Festival venues, as well as participate in a masterclass led by Steven Osborne at Leeds College of Music.

Speaking at the Finals of the 2018 Competition – where he also presented prizes and was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Leeds – Lang Lang stated: I’m extremely proud of my association with the city of Leeds, and with the Piano Competition – which is doing so much to unite excellence and accessibility”.

Closing the Festival, celebrity pianist Alistair McGowan returns to The Leeds with Introduction to Classical Piano at Besbrode Pianos. An alumnus of the University of Leeds, McGowan previously performed at The Leeds during Piano + events at the 2018 Competition, and his 2017 recording The Piano Album reached Number One in the UK Classical Album Charts.

Learning and Engagement 

In addition to their recitals and masterclass, the Young Scholars participate in many external learning and engagement activities, following the success of similar events at last year’s Festival. As well as performing in the Piano Fantasia to over 1,000 primary schoolchildren, they also visit local primary schools in both Leeds and London, as well as adult care settings.

The University of Leeds, a principal partner of the Competition, hosts a ‘Steinway Experience’ on 30 March as part of Be Curious, the University’s research open day, where families can enjoy these wonderful instruments. Steinway & Sons, also a partner of The Leeds, has provided the pianos for the Competition since its beginnings in 1963.

Coinciding with Piano Day on 29 March, pop-up performances take place on the Leeds Piano Trail, in partnership with Leeds Business Improvement District (BID). These Besbrode pianos, decorated by local artists, were a popular feature of last year’s Competition and encouraged the public to play and experience the pianos at high-profile locations around Leeds city centre; most of the trail pianos stayed in place after the Competition due to the huge popularity of the initiative.

Adam Gatehouse, Artistic Director of the Leeds International Piano Competition, said: “After winning over both the jury and audiences at the 2018 Competition, we’re delighted to welcome Eric Lu back to The Leeds for the second annual Leeds Piano Festival. We’re thrilled too that Steven Osborne, Barry Douglas and the extraordinary Lang Lang Scholars will join him in both Leeds and London, allowing audiences to experience their remarkable talent and help us share in wonderful performances of great piano music. Deepening our roots in our communities by developing fun, diverse and inclusive events to enable more people to discover and fall in love with the piano is also crucial to our mission, and the Festival continues its inspiring work to attract ever-wider audiences.” 

Tickets for the Leeds recitals and the masterclass can be booked here, and the London recitals here.

 

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