March 2017 Object of the Month

Thursday March 2 2017

This month's object is chosen by Paul Cook

Britten's concert grand

Photo: Paul Cook, BPF

Britten’s concert grand.

Every month, a member of staff from the Britten-Pears Foundation chooses their favourite item or object from the archive.

This month features IT Manager, Paul Cook:

“There are few objects within our extensive collections that can claim as much prestige as the piano situated here on site, in the Library. It’s a Steinway Model “D” (with ‘ebonised dull finish casework no. 411810’). Britten had a well-documented relationship with Steinway – we have correspondence in the archive that dates from between 1945 to 1975 detailing various purchases, complaints, repairs and modifications relating to the various pianofortes owned by the composer during that time. Included within this collection is confirmation of the sale of no. 411810 which was delivered to Britten’s home at the Red House in September 1969, costing some £2825.8.
This particular piano played a very important role in the history of The Aldeburgh Festival. It replaced the Model D that Britten purchased in 1967. This ‘older sibling’ was tragically lost in the fire that took place at the Maltings on the opening night of the 1969 Festival, where it had been in use. No. 411810, served as the festival concert grand for many years, occupying this most illustrious of duties regularly until sometime in the mid 2000s.

Over the years, this piano has clearly given some superb performances. I think Britten would be content in the knowledge that it’s still used regularly when we have recitals in the Library. In fact, this is where my personal connection to it originates from – it’s the times I’ve heard it being played that have left me feeling very lucky to be in its presence. It’s an utterly wonderful instrument to witness.

Due to those experiences, choosing my object of the month was an easy consideration. It also comes with a full recommendation to attend one of our events in the Library to hear it for yourself!”