Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Queen's Piano

It seems the golden piano in the royal drawing room has been remarked upon by the usual suspects. From World Piano News:
The piano was built in London by the leading French piano-makers S&P Erard. Sébastien Erard (1752-1831) was a remarkable craftsman and technician. He built his first piano in 1777. He subsequently produced instruments for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and for many of the great composers including Chopin and Liszt. Erard was also responsible for a host of important innovations in piano design—many of which are still utilised today. 
In 1791 Erard had to move from Paris to London to escape the French Revolution. On this death, his nephew, Pierre, continued his pioneering work, and the company renamed S&P Erard, produced many of the finest pianos of the 19th century.

The 1856 gold piano was ordered by Queen Victoria to be placed in the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace. Both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert played the piano and they had instruments installed in all their private residences. (Details of another piano owned by Victoria can be found here). This, however, was the grandest and most elaborate piano in the collection.

The piano is constructed using gilded painted and varnished mahogany, satinwood and pine, with brass and gilt bronze mounts. Three incurving cabriole legs with intricate carvings support the case.

The instrument is decorated in an early eighteenth-century French style. It features comical depictions of monkeys and cherubs playing musical instruments. These paintings are by François Rochard a French miniature painter. He used polychrome colours to provide a visually powerful impression. Parts of the case are taken from an earlier instrument owned by Queen Victoria. She so liked the imagery that she wanted it transferred to her new piano. (Read more.)

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