- By Dawn Limbu & Simon Parkin
- BBC news
One pianist said he wanted to tell the story of the square piano by recording an album using the historic instrument.
Jonathan Delbridge, from South Petherton in Somerset, performed using his 1814 Regency-era Broadwood Square piano.
He said the audience was fascinated by the instrument and its connection to classical composers.
He said that recording the album “The Story of the Square Piano” will help him share it with a larger audience.
Mr. Delbridge added that composers such as Mozart and Edward Elgar would have used square pianos, as would novelist Jane Austen.
He said the instrument has a more refined sound than modern pianos.
“As a classical pianist, I always enjoy listening to pianos from the period in which the composers wrote the music,” he said.
He explains why there was an “explosion” in the popularity of square pianos in the mid-18th to early 19th centuries.
Despite the name ‘square piano’, he said the instrument is more rectangular in shape.
The strings are much smaller on a square piano, and the instrument is held together by wood, instead of an iron frame.
“Really think of a desk, but you open it up and reveal a piano keyboard,” he said.
He said the device is “revolutionary” due to its affordable price and more convenient shape and size.
“Early grand pianos were not affordable for most people,” he added.
“If it weren’t for square pianos, perhaps pianos wouldn’t have become as popular as they are today.”
When upright pianos took over in 1850, many square pianos were abandoned and some were turned into desks.
Mr Delbridge said those that survived were often in poor condition and it took a lot of work to get them back into full service, although there had been a “revival”.
“There are people who restore them, care for them and take care of them,” he said.
Mezzo soprano Molly Jasmine Soo will join Mr Delbridge on several songs on the album.