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An Important Pianola Centenary

The Pianola and the London Symphony Orchestra : Queen's Hall, 14 June 1912.

Just over one hundred years ago, one of the most highly publicised concerts in the history of the Pianola took place in London. On 14 June 1912, at the famous Queen's Hall in Upper Regent Street, the London Symphony Orchestra gave an invitation concert, conducted by Artur Nikisch, the Hungarian musician who had recently taken over as the orchestra's principal conductor. The concert was sponsored and presented by the Orchestrelle Company, manufacturers of the Pianola and other roll-operated instruments, and advertisements appeared in many of the London newspapers, including the Times.

Concert Advertisement in the Times Newspaper : London, 12 June 1912

Elena Gerhardt, one of the leading sopranos of the age, was engaged to sing to the Pianola's accompaniment, but pride of place was taken by a performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto, with Easthope Martin, chief Pianola demonstrator of the Orchestrelle Company, as the solo Pianolist. Mr Martin also played the Liszt Hungarian Fantasia with the orchestra, plus a number of solo pieces, and he was congratulated afterwards by no less a personage than Paderewski, the owner of two Pianolas, and one of the many international musical figures attending the concert.

The copywriter for the Times advertisement was rather guarded in stating only that it was "the first time in England [that] the Pianola will be used in conjunction with a full orchestra." In fact, solo and chamber music concerts with the Pianola date back to the late 1890s, and concertos with Pianola and orchestra followed soon afterwards. If you are interested in finding out more about the history of these concerts, visit our Historic Pianola Concerts page.

Pianola Journal no. 23

Just Issued - Pianola Journal no. 23, 2013.

Our latest Pianola Journal has just been published, with articles on Conlon Nancarrow, Dynamic Recording for the Ampico, Debussy on the Reproducing Piano, and a historic treatise on Making One's Own Music Rolls. Our illustrious authors include Dominic Murcott, Dr Chiara Bertoglio, and our own Denis Hall and Rex Lawson. How can you resist? Further details on our Pianola Journal pages.

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