Finchcocks has had an interesting cultural and musical history over the years.

After standing for two centuries in the midst of glorious parkland and surrounded by hop-gardens in idyllic tranquillity, the arrival of the twentieth century and the First World War brought tougher times. Siegfried Sassoon was a regular guest, and adored “the wide and slippery oak stairs” and the “gracious red brick front of the house”. But the house was eventually requisitioned by the army during the Second World War and suffered a period of prolonged neglect.

Its fortunes improved dramatically when Richard and Katrina Burnett purchased the house in 1971, and set about restoring the property to its former glory. Their interest wasn’t just in the historic Grade 1 listed building, but in establishing a collection of historical keyboard instruments, which over the course of the subsequent 50 years, gained an international reputation and uniquely offered visitors from around the world the chance to play every instrument on display.

When the museum closed in 2015, many feared the music might stop and the lights might go out forever.  But in 2016, Finchcocks was purchased by Neil and Harriet Nichols, who were determined to keep the music going.

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Since establishing the piano school early in 2017, the newly established musical venture has received rave reviews. The BBC music magazine described it as “Paradise for pianists”, with the Sunday Times, the Spectator, the Pianist magazine and Classic FM all enthusing about the “luxury rooms”, “fine dining” and “incredible collection of grand pianos”, including the newly acquired Steinway Model B.

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Weekend course or summer course?

Finchcocks offers both weekend and summer courses at all levels. Guests come from all over the world – some seeking to re-immerse themselves in the world of piano playing after a gap of a few decades, and others working hard towards and exam or a performance diploma.

Weekend courses consist of a mix of workshops to develop technique, masterclasses (focussing on performance) and individual tuition. Each course includes an evening recital on Saturday night, locally sourced food prepared by the in-house chef, delicious wine and beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms.

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The 5 day summer courses feature workshops and masterclasses too, but the pace is different: there is time to relax and explore the idyllic Kentish countryside and all that it contains. Advanced groups have the opportunity to visit fourteen historic keyboard instruments that used to be based at Finchcocks and now reside in Richard Burnett’s private collection in Tunbridge Wells, and intermediate groups get the chance to try their hands (and feet) at the organ in Goudhurst Church with tuition from David Hall.

Each guest has will have the opportunity to play each of the 10 grand pianos at Finchcocks, and the chance to be inspired by some incredible tutors in the most magical of settings.

Summer school:

22 July: Intermediate 5 day course with David Hall – 1 place remaining

More information

29 July: Advanced 5 day course with Graham Fitch – 2 places remaining

More information

Weekend courses:

30 Aug: Beginner weekend with Dave Hall – good availability

More information

13 September: Advanced weekend course with Graham Fitch – good availability

More information

20 September: Chopin weekend course with Warren Mailley Smith – good availability

More information

 

To find out if there is a course that might suit you, email jenny@finchcocks.com, call 01580 428080 or have a look at the forthcoming piano courses on the Finchcocks website.

 


 

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Renowned pianist, Paul Roberts, will entertain guests with an evening recitals of piano works by Debussy and Beethoven in Finchcocks’ newly renovated vaulted cellar

Finchcocks, the newly transformed piano school in Goudhurst, Kent, today announced its charity piano concert event to support the work of Help Musicians UK. The intimate evening of music will celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of the delivery of one of Thomas Broadwood’s best pianos to Beethoven.

The concert is in collaboration with John Broadwood and Sons, and will take place at historic Finchcocks on the 27th May 2018, beginning at 7.30pm.

All proceeds from ticket sales will go to Britain’s leading independent music charity Help Musicians UK

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Finchcocks have three Broadwood pianos that they use for weekend piano courses, and one of them bears a remarkable resemblance to the one that Thomas Broadwood sent to Beethoven in 1817. It is said that Broadwood invited five of the best musicians in London to help design the instrument for Beethoven, which took nearly a year to make before it was transported over land, sea and the Alps to reach the famous composer.

Pianist, Paul Roberts, will give an inspiring solo conert, performing pieces by both Debussy and Beethoven in Finchcocks’ newly transformed, atmospheric vaulted cellar. Paul will be playing on one of Finchcocks’ barless Broadwood grand pianos.

All proceeds of ticket sales will be going to Help Musicians UK, which since 1921, has provided help, support and opportunities to empower musicians at all stages of their lives. The charity helps emerging professionals to develop their talent and get started in a professional career, existing professionals who have hit a crisis in their lives, and they also help with musicians with long-term or terminal illnesses and those needing special help as they grow older. In addition to donating the profits from the ticket sales to Help Musicians UK, Finchcocks says that the partnership signifies a wider commitment to raise awareness of the charity.

Neil Nichols, the new owner of Finchcocks, said:

“The Broadwood concert at Finchcocks should be a fantastic evening of classical music – where guests will have the opportunity to enjoy Debussy and Beethoven rendered beautifully in our newly transformed space. We hope the concert will raise much-needed funds for Help Musicians UK, as well as providing opportunities to inspire people to support the charity in the long-term.”

Susie at Help Musicians UK, commented on the partnership:

“We are really grateful to Finchcocks for choosing Help Musicians UK as their charity partner. We are looking forward to working alongside the team and are excited for this special concert in a wonderful setting, which we hope some of our supporters will be able to attend. Through partnerships with organisations like Finchcocks, we are able to offer vital support to musicians in need and ensure musicians can continue to work and thrive in their careers. We very much look forward to developing our relationship further in the future.”

Tickets are £12 and available online. Alternatively, call 01580 428080 to buy a ticket over the phone.


About Help Musicians UK

Help Musicians UK is Britain’s leading independent music charity. Since 1921, HMUK has provided help, support and opportunities to empower musicians at all stages of their lives.

HMUK’s mission is to create a sustainable future for all musicians and the industry. The charity works in partnership to transform the music industry through advocacy, campaigning, programmes and targeted investment for all those within it.

In 2017, HMUK spent a total of £3.5 million assisting 3,426 musicians. HMUK is for all musicians, regardless of their genre, background or problem. They are passionate about making sure musicians and those working in the industry get a fair deal and that their voices are heard.

www.helpmusicians.org.uk​​

Guest post by Emma Williams

Finchcocks is a handsome manor house in the Kent countryside, which has been filled with music since its inception in the 18th century.

Until recently, it was home to a living museum of music – which I had visited as part of a private visit. We’d had a marvellous time being let loose on the collection, which included some fine harpsichords and clavichords, square pianos (including one which belonged to Queen Victoria, made by John Broadwood & Sons), fortepianos, and grand pianos by Clementi, Pleyel, Erard and Broadwood. It’s no surprise therefore that I was sad to hear the news that Finchcocks was on the market and its exceptional keyboard museum was to be closed.

But there’s great news: the wonderful musical tradition, established by Richard and Katrina Burnett back in 1971, will be continued at Finchcocks! The new owners have announced they will be hosting regular residential piano courses at Finchcocks, and guests will be accommodated in the stunning, recently renovated 18th Century Coach House.

The first weekend piano course was held in November, run by Finchocks’ Musical Director Dave Hall, who did an excellent job engaging and inspiring a group of advanced intermediate pianists. Finchcocks’ courses will also cater for complete beginners (a welcome addition to the piano course world, as most courses are aimed at advanced players), and there’s a fabulous range of pianos to play on by Steinway, Bosendorfer, Yamaha and Broadwood. In the cellar, there are eight high-tech digital grand pianos.

My lovely piano teacher, Graham Fitch, will also be leading a few piano courses at Finchcocks next year. For more information about courses, tutors and accommodation, please visit www.finchcocks.com

Emma Williams is a keen piano player and recently attended a Finchcocks Weekend Piano Course.


Further reading

Why go on a piano course?

Courses for pianists in the UK and Europe

 

Finchcocks is a fine Georgian manor house set in the tranquil Kent countryside near Goudhurst. Originally the home of Bathurst family, the house became a centre for historical keyboard instruments in 1971 when Katrina and Richard Burnett bought the house as a place for Richard’s growing collection of historic pianos, harpsichords, organs, clavichords and more. The house and collection first opened to the public in 1976 and since has become a hub for the keyboard-inclined and a place where students, conservators and scholars can gain valuable insights into the working practices of composers and how the instruments of their day influenced how they created their music. In addition to open days, where anyone can go along and play the instruments (some 40 are in playable condition), the house also hosts concerts, jazz nights and education events.

For a bunch of piano addicts what better way to spend an early April day than to be offered free range of the Finchcocks collection as part of a private visit. After an initial introduction to the collection by visiting tutor and Finchcocks regular Gary Branch, we were let loose on the collection, with Gary on hand to offer advice about the best instrument for our repertoire to be performed in an afternoon concert. The collection includes some fine harpsichords and clavichords, square pianos (including one which belonged to Queen Victoria, made by John Broadwood & Sons), fortepianos, and grand pianos by Clementi, Pleyel, Erard and Broadwood.

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When dealing with historic instruments, I think one has to be careful not to invest too much in the idea that these instruments somehow “channel” the great composers to us. We can never accurately recreate their soundworld, because there are other social and historical factors about which we can only surmise, but by playing Bach on a harpsichord or Schubert on an early nineteenth-century fortepiano, for example, we can gain valuable insights into aspects such as dynamics and articulation, and we can experience the same instrumental colours and timbres the composers themselves expected to hear. These instruments, which were handmade right down to the tiniest parts, have very distinct and individual characters, something that has been lost in modern piano production: today it is down to the pianist to create a unique and personal soundworld.

We had a fascinating day exploring these beautiful old instruments, with a concert to wrap up the afternoon which reflected our personal discoveries and musical passions. Hear excerpts from the performances here

For more information about Finchcocks, please visit

www.finchcocks.co.uk