Dear visitors: We are in a constant process of updating and renewing this site. Our apologies if some links/pages are not fully functional yet. If there's some information you need or you would like to see in this site please write us an email to: fortepiano.org(at)hotmail.com
Information on early pianos
This is an information service for restorers, players, owners, amateurs and researchers into Pianos built BEFORE 1837 and similar important historical instruments.
The main reason for this website it to publish the Register of Extant Broadwood Grands and information about research into other makers
This site was last updated in January 2017 and will be again in 2019 under a new management. Many thanks to David Hunt who started and maintained this site for years.
Offers, or requests of information about Broadwood Grand pianos built BEFORE 1837 can be forwarded via email to:
fortepiano.org(at)hotmail.com Please replace (at) for the @ symbol.
Contents of this page:
Tuners specialised in early keyboards
The valuation of a piano
Instrument numbering for research:
Harpsichord and Fortepiano Peacock Press Scout Bottom Farm Mytholmroyd Hebden bridge West Yorks HX7 5JS .
PERIODICALS with occasional articles:
RECOMMENDED PUBLICATIONS. In no specific order.
Abate Wood in Rome: the ingegnosissimo mattematico who made the first pianoforte ‘that was brought to England’.
Early Music, Volume 46, Issue 3, August 2018, Pages 501–516. I started my own investigation on Father Wood, as I would not believe he was an invention of Charles Burney, so I thought I will start with any institution In Rome that may have had links to England. I came across the Venerable English College in Rome, so I contacted the archivist, who kindly confirmed that Father Wood and his brother were students there. He provided me with a copy of the register, but he also told me that Patrizio Barbieri already did that research. I found it fascinating and therefore I recommend it here. Louis or Lewis Wood was born at the Jacobite court in exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, on 11 November 1709, and died at Frascati, near Rome, on 23 June 1755. His father, Laurence Wood, was the doctor to James II in exile. C. Hernandez.
The Keyboard Stringing Guide, Jean Louchet. edited by Lulu.com. Available through Amazon. This guide is a very complete resource for those who want to know and understand the nitty-gritty of stringing. Starts with more or less easy explanations but at some point it goes into hard maths and physics.
Strings. Interpreting wire gauges, by Paul Poletti. One of the researchers that have brought light into the rather obscure topic of stringing. We highly recommend any of his publications.
The Art of Tuning. A self-Guided Manual for Piano Tuning, Design, Action Regulation, and Repair from mid-19th-Century France by Claude Montal. Translated by Fred Sturm, RPT. The original text of the book written by Montal (the father of piano tuning for blind people) in 1836 with the updates of 1865.
A Treatise on the Art of Pianoforte Construction, by Samuel Wolfenden. Published by Hecksher & Co. Reprinted by photolitho from the original edition of 1916 together with the supplement of 1927.
Contemporary Theory of Conservation. Salvador Muñoz Viñas. Edited by Routledge. I recommend this to anyone who wants to acquire a solid base in conservation theory, or to update their principles to the 21st century. Everything is questioned in the book, including - believe it or not, and with good reasoning - the principle of reversibility.
Piano, by David Crombie. A Photographic History of the World's Most Celebrated Instrument. Published by Miller Freeman Books. In this book you will find a history of its devolpment and numerous atypical pianos.
Ruckers, by Grant O'Brien. Published by Cambridge University Press. Though this book is devoted to the harpsichords and virginals built by the famous Ruckers family, the insights, approach to study, etc. are relevant to any person interested in early keyboards. O'Briens contribution to the study and research of pre-19th Century stringed keyboards are capital for the understanding of the pianofortes.
The British Art Piano and Piano Design Vol I. by G S Gadd. Published by The Very Yellow Press, 18 The Green, Twickenham TW2 5AA. ISBN 0-9553264-0-0
Broadwood Square Pianos, Michael Cole. Published by Tatchley Books, 334 Prestbury Road, Cheltenham GL52 3DD. ISBN 0-9551777-0-7. A must-have for anyone interested on fortepianos.
The Stringing, Scaling and Pitch of Hammerflugel built in the Southern German and Viennese Traditions 1780-1820, by Michael Latcham. Published by Haags Gemeentemuseum,Stadhouderslaan 41 NL-2517's-Gravenhage,Netherlands.
The Care of Historic Musical Instruments. Edited by Robert L. Barclay. Code of ethics, guidelines etc. for conservation and restoration of instruments mostly from the point of view of museums. Pdf file can be find for free on the net.
The Piano-Forte, by Rosamond Harding. (Pianos to 1851) Published by Hecksher and Co. To get a hardback copy (£15 plus postage), please email me at the address found at the bottom of this page.
The Early Pianoforte, by Stewart Pollens. (Pianos to 1763) Published by Cambridge University Press. 1995 ISBN 0 521 41729 5.
The Pianoforte in the Classical Era, by Michael Cole. (Pianos 1760-1830) Published by Clarenden Press Oxford. 1998. ISBN 0 19 816634 6.
Makers of the Piano 1720-1820, by M N Clinkscale. Published by Oxford University Press. 1993. ISBN 0 19 816323 1.
A History of Pianoforte Pedalling, by David Rowland. Published by Cambridge University Press. 1993. ISBN 0521 40266 2.
The Cambridge Companion to The Piano, by David Rowland. Published by Cambridge University Press. 1998. ISBN 0 521 47470 1.
Keyboard Instruments in Eighteenth Century Vienna, by Richard Maunder. Published by Clarendon Press Oxford. 1998. ISBN 0 19 816637 0.
A Handbook of Historical Stringing Practice, by M Rose & D Law. Published by Malcolm Rose and David Law. 1991. The Workshop, English Passage,Lewes,BN7 2AP. ISBN 0 9518590 05.
PUBLICATIONS PRESENTLY OUT OF PRINT:
Company of pianos, by Richard Burnett. Finchcocks Press. Includes 1 CD (a copy might be available through finchcocks.co.uk)
Clementi,his life and Music, by Leon Plantinga. Published by Oxford University Press. 1977. ISBN0 19 315227 4.
Broadwood by Appointment, A History, by David Wainwright. Published by Quiller Press. 1982. ISBN 0 907621 10 4
The National Trust. 150 Pianos of all ages. Catalogue of early instruments being prepared.
Colt Clavier Collection, Auctioned in 2018. Bethersden, Nr Ashford, Kent. TN26 3DD. Phone 01233-820-223. 110 Pianos.
Finchcocks Charity: The Richard Burnett Heritage Collection and The Finchcocks Charity, Waterdown House, 51 Frant Road, Tunbridge Wells,TN25LE Phone 01892 523203. 14 representative instruments of the 18th and 19th Centuries from the former Finchcocks collection. Visits upon appointment.
Cobbe Collection Trust, Hatchlands Park, East Clandon, Nr Guildford, GU4 7RT. 27 Pianos, of which 20 pre- 1837, 17 pre-1820, 11 pre-1800.
Victoria and Albert Museum. South Kensington, London. SW7 2RL 11 Pianos.
Russell Collection of Early Keyboard Instruments.St Cecilia's Hall, part of the University of Edinburgh. Niddry Street, Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1UL. 11 Pianos pre-1837, of which 9 pre-1820, 5 pre-1800.
Museum of London London Wall, London. EC2Y 5HN. 14 Pianos, of which 8 pre-1837, 2 pre 1800. Recently acquired 3 instruments from the Finchcocks collection, now restored to playable condition.
Royal Northern College of Music 124 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9RD 9 Pianos, of which 7 pre-1837, 3 pre- 1820, 2 pre 1800.
The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, DL12 8NP. 4 Pianos.
Bate Collection. Faculty of Music, St Aldate's, Oxford OX1 1DB. 4 Pianos, of which 3 pre-1820, 2 pre-1800.
Fenton House. Windmill Hill, Hampstead, London NW3 6RT. 3 Pianos pre-1820, of which 2 pre-1800.
Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, London NW1 5HT.
Horniman Museum and Gardens. 100 London Road, London, SE23 3PQ.
Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Rd, London SW7 2BS.
Holdenby House/Musical Museum Brentford.
REPAIR, PARTS AND STRINGS
Lucy Coad: squarepiano.co.uk Bass strings, leg threads and much more.
Graham Walker: earlypiano.co.uk.His cloth is a proper replacement for period one.
David Law: traditional-brassware.co.uk. Brassware for Early Keyboard Instruments (and other nice things).
Cesar Hernandez: cesarhernandez1967(at)hotmail.com. Bespoke replicas of tuning pins. Conservation, tuning and repairs of early stringed keyboards. Calculation of strings.
LINKS TO USEFUL AND RELATED SITES
Lucy Coad: squarepiano.co.uk - Restoration, parts, hire, etc.
Friends of Square Pianos - Website of news , resources, sales, etc. Plenty of information and advice coordinated by legendary instrument maker and restorer David Hackett. He also organises a yearly meeting where all the enthusiasts of early keyboard gather around instruments, presentations, etc. in a very friendly atmosphere. If you live in Europe you shouldn't miss this event (usually in April).
Pianohistory.info - History of piano in general. Probably the biggest archive of piano history in the world, compiled by Bill Kibby. You will find very useful and interesting information that you won't find elsewhere. Recently he obtained permission from the queen herself to copy related historical documents from Windsor. He has also a collection of pianos arranged in a timeline with relevant information. He is actively looking for sponsors to house and maintain the collection in Burwell, Lincolnshire, UK.
William Southwell: substantial research into the life of this important maker by Margaret Debenham.
Michael Cole's blog: www.squarepianos.com Utmost interesting blog of this important restorer and researcher.
This page was created by David Hunt who after easing into retirement kindly passed it on to Cesar Hernandez (currently conservator of the Finchcocks Charity), the actual manager. D. Hunt's registry of Broadwood grand pianofortes was a tremendous task and he made it available to the general public as a free source of information. It is in that spirit that we now take over and will try to add some other useful information.
The main purpose of the site is to offer all kind of information related to early fortepianos (and early keyboards in general), especially the one that is needed for conservation. As now there are no organised programs to acquire the knowledge and skills required to keep these instruments in acceptable conditions, we will try to offer (in the near future and as time permits) some resources in the form of text, documents and videos. If there is any specific topic that you would like to know about, please write to me an email to fortepiano.org(at)hotmail.com (please substitute the (at) for the @ symbol.
Other purposes of the page are to offer some sources of historical information for researchers, and to help the community of early pianos enthusiasts to get in touch to share their passion. Any contributions toward these aims will be very appreciated.