Mr. Langshaw's Square Piano: The Story of the First Pianos and How They Caused a Cultural Revolution

Overview

A handwritten serial number inside a neglected Broadwood square piano built in 1807 launches a captivating quest to uncover the remarkable history of these now almost forgotten musical instruments.

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Overview

A handwritten serial number inside a neglected Broadwood square piano built in 1807 launches a captivating quest to uncover the remarkable history of these now almost forgotten musical instruments.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Goold chronicles the transformative history of the model and the instrument, both of which changed culture . . . all across the world this personal but carefully-crafted history reveals how technical innovation can advance the evolution of society."  —Publishers Weekly

"An extraordinary book."  —Booklist

"A wealth of fascinating stories and characters . . . One of the strengths of Ms. Goold's fine book is showing us how the presence of pianos expanded and deepened the cultural life . . . Ms. Goold has herself produced an enchanting work."  —The Wall Street Journal

"This is a truly remarkable and delightful book . . . We are given a wide-ranging and extremely detailed overview of the birth, mechanics and development of the square piano . . . And at the same time we meet the host of people who were involved in its production and burgeoning popularity."  —The Jane Austen Society Newsletter

"Goold’s writing shows the mark of a true storyteller . . . she shows the rise of the square [piano] as a bridge to many things: from the harpsichord to the modern piano, from the elite aristocratic society to the "middling sort," from one-of-a-kind production to a business of mass production . . . can be read as much for social history as for keyboard history." —Harpsichord & Fortepiano Magazine

"This delightful book is a story about the life and times of . . . a little Broadwood square piano made in 1807 . . . Goold succeeds admirably, and the thoroughness of her research is particularly impressive . . . fascinating and informative."  —Early Music America

"It was a serial number inside an antique piano which launched Madeline Goold on the quest to discover its first owner . . . Goold’s piano was made by Broadwood, an English piano-maker so confident that it sent one of its grand pianos as a gift to Beethoven. Amazingly, Broadwood still has most of its archive records of sales from the 1770s onwards."  —The Guardian

"A journey that will fascinate the reader . . . a riveting glimpse into a musical and social world, all thanks to Broadwood square piano #10651."  —The Historical Novels Review

Publishers Weekly
In search of an instrument that could best reproduce her early musical scores, British artist Goold stumbled upon an old Broadwood square, a durable, masterfully constructed piano barely recognizable after years of disuse. A fan since childhood of the contemporary Broadwood upright, Goold formed a deep bond with this antique prototype, and devoted two years to reclaiming its ownership. In this record of Broadwood square 10651, originally purchased in 1807 by piano distributor and Lancaster parish organist John Langshaw, Goold chronicles the transformative history of the model and the instrument, both of which changed culture in England and all across the world. John Broadwood capitalized on new channels of industrialization, manufacturing pianos for the masses, introducing high culture to the lower classes and setting new standards for the influence of a family enterprise. Demonstrating how Broadwood and his invention bridged art and business, high society and low, human and machine, this personal but carefully-crafted history reveals how technical innovation can advance the evolution of society.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Booklist
Extraordinary book.
The Guardian

It was a serial number inside an antique piano which launched Madeline Goold on the quest to discover its first owner . . . Goold's piano was made by Broadwood, an English piano-maker so confident that it sent one of its grand pianos as a gift to Beethoven. Amazingly, Broadwood still has most of its archive records of sales from the 1770s onwards.

Jane Austen Society Newsletter

This is a truly remarkable and delightful book . . . We are given a wide-ranging and extremely detailed overview of the birth, mechanics and development of the square piano . . . And at the same time we meet the host of people who were involved in its production and burgeoning popularity.

Classic FM Magazine

Elegantly combines nostalgic reminiscences with serious historical research and plenty of in-depth technical detail . . . Beautifully presented and often rather moving, this is an unusual and charming book.

The Birmingham Post (UK)

Part detective story . . . part social history . . . absorbing.

Harpsichord & Fortepiano Magazine

Goold's writing shows the mark of a true storyteller . . . she shows the rise of the square [piano] as a bridge to many things: from the harpsichord to the modern piano, from the elite aristocratic society to the "middling sort," from one-of-a-kind production to a business of mass production . . . can be read as much for social history as for keyboard history.

Early Music America

This delightful book is a story about the life and times of . . . a little Broadwood square piano made in 1807 . . . Goold succeeds admirably, and the thoroughness of her research is particularly impressive . . . fascinating and informative.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933346212
  • Publisher: BlueBridge
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Madeline Goold holds a law degree from the London School of Economics. A sculptor and artist, she has also taught piano, which she has played since childhood.

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