research project.

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joseph
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research project.

Post by joseph » 01 Feb 2013, 09:48

Hi everyone,

Can anybody give me some information on how the concert grand piano developed through the 20th century? I know that a model D from 1890 bears quite a lot in common with the modern counterpart, but what are the differences, in technical terms? I'm interested in touch weight, inertia, hammer weight, repetition, scale design, whether they have become louder or not (that's an interesting one because I've played a 1900 and a 1980 D side by side, and in this case, the 1900 D was better in every way)!

The developments at Bluthner, who used two actions, are of particular interest, as are the developments in England - where we seemed to build pianos based on early to mid 19th century designs for a lot longer. I'm interested in finding Chappell, Challen and Danemann concert grands made up until the mid 20th Century, and of course, if anybody knows any early American concert grands lurking in the UK, that would be helpful - what were Mason and Hamlin doing, for instance?

Bosendorfer are of course of interest because they were the first to extend the compass with their imperial grands.

Also, does anyone know where some of these old concert grands (well, 6 foot and above, with a particular interest in full sized grands) are hiding?

This is for a research project I'm embarking on, and I'm tying it in with how the development of the piano changed our perception of how music should and can be performed. Are the 'improvements' actually improvements on a musical level, or just technical feats? Which also brings me to ask the same question about the performances - is a young competition winner playing Petrushka as fast as possible, something that we could consider true art? After all, the Russian composers had instruments at their disposal that we might not consider the best today, Prokofieff with his Bluthner patent grand, and Skryabin with his old Bechstein.

Some of the pianists of the early recording age, in Europe certainly, did not want to play Steinways latest pianos because they felt they were overbearing.

Finally I will look at instruments from this century - Stuart and Sons, and the Carbon Fiber pianos from Hurstwood Farm, Kawai's action from a pianists point of view, and I will try and include developments such as the Roland V-Piano and the Yamaha AvantGrande. I will be asking about whether these things are improvements, whether they change our perception of performance, whether people learning on digitals instead of uprights and grands have had an affect on performance (I think we know the answer, but I need to attempt a scientific look at this). What is true, whether we like it or not, is that the digital piano has brought the piano to more people - and while there are many digital pianos sitting dusty and unloved for the past 20 years in a garage or under a cutlery canteen in a dining room, the same could be said for the mass-produced uprights of the early 20th Century.

So, anyone, if you have ideas, and know where I could get my hands on some of these old concert grands, to record and play, and possibly hire for concerts, please let me know. This research is quite important to me and I thank you in advance if you can help.

Withindale
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Re: research project.

Post by Withindale » 02 Feb 2013, 12:30

Sucking eggs? Post the question (re Steinway) on Pianoworld and Clavio (re Bluthner, Bosendorfer). Am I allowed to say that here? Talk to Steinway, Bluthner and the music schools in London. See if there are some older concert grands lurking in the Cambridge Colleges. Contact Udo Steingraeber. Post separately about Chappell, Challen and Danemann.

joseph
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Re: research project.

Post by joseph » 02 Feb 2013, 16:57

I'm going to get in touch with Steinway, Bluthner, Bechstein, Piano Restorations Ltd, PeriodPiano.com, Steingraeber, Paul McNulty, also individuals who have instruments of interest.

For instance, someone tipped me off that the main piano in the Royal Albert Hall, for a while, was an Ibach.... could it be yours?? (which I want to come and see, I keep meaning to get back to you on that!). is your piano playable?

Withindale
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Re: research project.

Post by Withindale » 02 Feb 2013, 18:23

joseph wrote:For instance, someone tipped me off that the main piano in the Royal Albert Hall, for a while, was an Ibach.... could it be yours?? (which I want to come and see, I keep meaning to get back to you on that!). is your piano playable?
Presumably the Royal Albert Hall had a full size Ibach 270 cm concert grand. Mine is a smaller model that found its way from Berlin to Scotland in 1945. Thanks to advice here it's now reasonably well regulated and I'll let you know in a week or two when it's been professionally tuned.
Last edited by Withindale on 03 Feb 2013, 16:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Barrie Heaton
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Re: research project.

Post by Barrie Heaton » 03 Feb 2013, 12:54

The patent office in Leeds and London are very helpful as most changes to grands have had patent taken out on them, they use to charge me 0.50 a patent + postage but that was in the mid 90s. S&S has a shed full of them, with all the info you need. A lot of the US patents can be accessed on line for a fee



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