The Survival and Preservation of English Square Pianos

Introduction This article is about the development of the English square piano; their ownership in the late 18th and during the 19th centuries and their survival and preservation in recent time.  It also provides information about early keyboard instrument collections in the UK and the United States that include these instruments. The development of the […]

Advice about buying a Square Piano

Introduction This article provides a background to the recent interest in square pianos, comments on their musical capabilities and provides guidance on buying an instrument. Rise to respectability Many Georgian and Victorian square pianos have survived but until recently they have not been considered serious musical instruments. Most of them have been kept as a […]

Square Piano Nameboard Fretwork

Nameboard fretwork apertures backed by coloured silk were generally used by makers from about 1800. There were various designs and sizes but there were normally two fretwork panels positioned in symmetry towards each end of the nameboard and one internal fretwork in the left-hand back corner of the instrument. This feature in square pianos was […]

Hammer Covering and Leather

The leather used by piano makers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries for covering hammers is no longer available. Therefore, if it is necessary to replace, an alternative needs to be found that has similar properties to the original. The choice of replacement leather is critical to the tone of the instrument. It […]

Longman and Broderip “Directions for the management of piano fortes”

Some early piano makers attached instructions for maintaining their instruments inside the piano.  John Broadwood fixed a small label on the inside of the spine of the instrument giving instructions in both English and French.  William Rolfe and Muzio Clementi attached instructions inside the left hand compartment. Longman & Broderip fixed a page of instructions, […]

Harman Vietor and his “Forte ex Piano”

While Johannes Zumpe is considered to be the first maker and inventor of the English square piano (the earliest surviving examples are dated 1766) another maker, Harman Bernard Vietor, was probably making a form of square piano from about 1761. Vietor called his instrument a “Coelestin d’ Amour” or a “Forte ex Piano” and he […]

The early English square piano 1760-1800

We associate the name of Johannes Zumpe with the first English square pianos and his design of instrument become the blueprint for a new competitive industry of square piano making in the latter part of the 18th century. The square piano had become established by about 1770 and continued to gain much popularity within high […]