Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Grand Piano

John Broadwood & Sons
London, England, United Kingdom
Rosewood veneer, oak, metal, ivory, ebony, maple, beech, brass, leather
Height: 36 7/16 in. (92.5 cm) Width (parallel to keyboard): 49 3/4 in. (126.4 cm) Depth (perpendicular to keyboard): 97 15/16 in. (248.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Professor Stoddard Lincoln, 1972
Accession Number:
Not on view
John Broadwood (1732-1812) began his professional life as a cabinetmaker. In 1761 he went to London and worked with the well-established harpsichord maker Burkat Shudi. After marrying Shudi's daughter in 1769, he became a partner in the firm, and eventually manager nine years after his father-in-law's death in 1773. In the 1760s, Broadwood collaborated with other English makers to develop a grand piano action. The English action was more closely based on Bartolomeo Cristofori's design than the German or Viennese actions of the period. Broadwood's had a deeper key dip and a touch quite similar to the modern piano action, which is derived from it.

The cast iron frame, invented in America a few years before this piano was made, was not immediately accepted by British and Continental makers. A few, however, like Broadwood and Erard, bolted metal bars to the frame to improve tuning stability. The piano has three iron reinforcement bars bolted from pinblock to the bent side of the case as well as metal reinforcement below the soundboard.
Broadwood became the most important piano maker in England, and the firm produced approximately 1500 pianos a year in the 1820s. In 1818, Broadwood presented a piano to Beethoven, and this instrument remained one of the composer's most cherished possessions.

This piano, veneered in Brazilian rosewood, has a six and a half octave compass (CC-f4). The two pedals raise the dampers and provide an "una corda" shift. By adjusting a slide on the right key block, the "una corda" pedal can shift the action incrementally so that the hammers strike either one or two strings, rather than three.
Marking: 1) (on nameboard) John Broadwood & Sons/Makers to His Majesty & the Princesses/Great Pulteney Street, Golden Square/London
2)(stamped on right side of nameboard and on top of pedal lyre) 11186;
3)(written in ink on left side of pinblock) N1186;
4) (on right side) A.D./1827;
5) (on right side of action rail) Murray
McIntosh family ; Professor Stoddard Lincoln
Makers of the Piano, 1820-1860: Volume 2. Oxford University Press. Oxford, UK, 1999, pg. 55.

"Keyboard Instruments." Summer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1989), Vol. 47, No. 1, pg. 43, ill.

Keynotes: Two Centuries of Piano Design. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pg. 34-35, fig. 23, ill.

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