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.