ADVENTURES OF A PIANOFORTE

Broadwood_pianoforte_077_2

The above picture of a restored 1809 Broadwood grand piano is here by gracious permission of Clive Titmuss and Susan Adams of earlymusicstudio.com.  It was made in the same year as the one I’m going to talk about and must be very like it.

According to the records of the London firm of Broadwood & Son, kept at the Surrey History Centre, Louis Bazalgette on 28 November 1809 bought a 6-octave 4-legged grand piano (Serial No. 4626) for which he paid £94/10/-.   This instrument was noted as being for Mrs. Simmy, who was perhaps the family’s music teacher.  On 6 April 1810 another 6-octave grand piano (Serial No. 4743) was delivered to Louis, and carriage of £1/16/- was paid for it to be moved to the country estate – Eastwick Park, Great Bookham.   However, the porter’s book says that this piano was returned on 12 April by ‘Miss Bazalgette’, for a full credit refund.  Quite what the confusion was is hard to see.  Perhaps Miss Bazalgette decided that she did not like the second piano, or decided that one was enough.  Louis did not pay for the piano which they kept until 7 March 1811, which either means he was a slow payer or that Broadwoods were slow to invoice.  ‘Miss Bazalgette’ was probably Louis’ eldest daughter Louisa, who was nineteen at the time, or perhaps Caroline, who was fifteen, or Cecilia, aged ten.  The other children were probably too young to play such an instrument.

The Broadwood ledgers, addressed in earlier years to ‘Mr. Bazalgette’ and later to ‘Mrs. Bazalgette’, show that on 3 January 1811 the piano was moved from Eastwick back to the London house at 86, Gloucester Place, where it probably got a lot of use, being tuned on 17 January, 26 February, 13 April and 17 May.  On 27 May it was carried back to Eastwick again.  It was brought back yet again on 1 January 1812 and was tuned monthly until 30 April, when it went back to Eastwick.  These movements carried on  from year to year, in approximately May and December, reflecting the fact that the children, at any rate, spent their summer seasons in the country and their winter seasons in Town.

On 15 December 1816 the piano was moved from Eastwick Park to London, at a cost of £1/16/-, was tuned in January and May and was then taken back to Eastwick Park on 22 May 1817.  Broadwoods charged 5/- for tuning it in London and a guinea in Great Bookham, because of the extra travelling involved. The piano was tuned on 8 August and then brought back to London on 18 December, being tuned a few days afterwards.  Further tunings were done in March, May and June 1819, the last tuning being before it was moved back to Eastwick on 9 June.  It seems odd that they would tune it before shifting it, because any journey tends to make a piano go out of tune, especially a wooden-framed one, which is why they are usually tuned after arrival at the new location.  It was in fact retuned, but not until 21 June.  On 15 December the piano was on its travels again back to London, where it was tuned on 30 December, and again in March and May 1820.  The porter’s book has an entry for May 1820 for ‘moving G.P. in the House (3/6)’, tuning it, and moving it back again on the following day.  Presumably the family held a special concert so the piano was shifted downstairs for this purpose.  Finally on 23 July 1820 the piano was moved back to Eastwick.

The comings and goings of the hapless instrument continued until at least 1831.  By then Louis was dead.  His widow Frances lived on until 1847, and the last mention of the piano that I have found so far was when it was offered at auction in 1848 in London, following her death.

I hope the purchaser got a good deal, considering the high mileage…

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