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1816 BROADWOOD                                                                         

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Same Model Presented To Beethoven

The 1816 Broadwood grand, serial number 7005, is the same model as the piano made the following year, number 7362, and given to Beethoven. Thomas Broadwood, son of the original John Broadwood, met Beethoven during a visit to the continent in 1817. As a result of the meeting, he decided to present one of the firm’s pianos to the composer.

Upon returning to London, he invited five pianists to choose the piano to be presented to Beethoven, including names still remembered inscribed on the pinblock: Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Ferdinand Ries and John Baptist Cramer. The front displayed Beethoven’s name in large letters and the inscription, Hoc instrumentum est Thomae Broadwood londini donum propter ingenium illustrissimi Beethoven. Upon the arrival of the Beethoven Broadwood in Vienna, pianists who tried it found the tone appealing for its fullness and dynamic nuance, if also somewhat muffled compared with the brighter sound of Viennese pianos. After a period of use by Beethoven, Broadwood sent a representative to service the piano, who described the broken strings as resembling “a thornbush after a storm.” In 1823 the pianist Ignaz Moscheles borrowed the Broadwood for a recital, writing afterward that his effort to show the “broad, full” tone was to no avail, his Viennese audience preferring the more brilliant sound of pianos of their countryman, Conrad Graf. At the auction of Beethoven’s effects, a buyer for the Broadwood that ten years earlier had represented the high point of piano building could scarcely be found due to what was perceived as its limited sonority. The eventual buyer was a music dealer by the name of Spina who later presented the piano to Liszt. It now stands in the National Museum in Budapest.

Unlike the 1806 grand, the 1816 Broadwood in this collection stands on four legs instead of a trestle, the middle pedal that lifted the dampers from middle C downward in the 1806 grand is now part of a split damper pedal, the compass has increased from 5½ to six octaves, CC to c4, and there are five steel arched braces between the pinblock and the belly rail, compared with four in the 1806 grand. As shown in the picture, the hammer flanges, strung on one long wire, are held in place by brass brackets, as in all four Broadwood grands. In this action, removing one hammer, shank and flange necessitates removing all the hammers above or below, unlike the separate attachment of hammers in the modern piano. Like the 1806 grand, the piano is triple strung throughout the compass. (The record of the piano wire removed during restoration by Alistair Laurence shows the diameter of the original iron or brass wire, early iron or brass replacements and modern steel and brass replacements.) As in all four Broadwood grands, this piano has a single-escapement English action.

According to the Broadwood record book, the piano was delivered to a Miss Slow on Tuesday, August 6, 1816, and exchanged for the same model grand, number 7004, on Friday, October 25. Miss Slow changed her mind one more time, and on October 30, 1816, number 7005 went back to her residence. 

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Dampers: The light weight of these dampers accounts for the ghosting effect in the damped sound.

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The front piece, or what would be the fall board on a modern piano, is decorated with brass ormolu.

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The five metal braces between the pinblock and the bellyrail. Notice the six-octave compass.

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The hitch rail. Notice the separation caused by string tension.

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The decorative handle for the lid latch.

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The original square tuning pins, the metal braces, and the dampers with the damper rail removed.

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The una corda and split damper pedel for operating the treble and bass dampers seperately.

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