New concert dates

Just added new concert dates for May 26th and June 2nd, as well as the existing dates we already had which are June 23, October 13 and December 8th. See Future Events page for details.

Concert pianist

We are very excited to have booked a wonderful pianist for our celebratory concert on 23 June.

VARVARA MAGGS is a superb pianist as you can read here (St. Bride’s, where Varvara has given recitals), which says more than we possibly could. This will be an amazing occasion for the whole of Coventry, not just for UMCM and St. John the Baptist.

 

Inventory of restoration work

The restorers of “our” Bechstein piano, Courtney’s of Oxford, have provided this fascinating breakdown of work. Wow!

Strings, wrestpins, frame and soundboard.

  • Unscrew & remove all existing damper-heads from strings.
  • Destring frame, removing all existing strings, wrestpins and frame feltwork.
  • Uplift, clean and refinish frame in antique gold lacquer.
  • Rub down and polish soundboard, checking for any splits present (none so far) when frame uplifted.
  • Clean & polish all frame bolts; refelt frame & refit to bracings.
  • Drill out wrestpin holes and check wrestplank for splits (none present as far as can be seen).
  • Fully restring & repin piano with EKA polished wire, and new set of EKA spun bass strings to patterns.
  • Pitch-raise, tidy coils, level pins, ready for chip-tunings.

Action/Keyboard/Damper assembly.

  • Send hammers to Abel in Germany to be recovered with new felts.
  • Recentre four rows of flange-centres in action; two rows in damper-lever assembly.
  • Clean Action, Keyboard & Damper assembly.
  • Burnish jacks.
  • Clean & polish ivory keytops N.B.
  • Recover majority of feltwork in action & rebaize keyframe.
  • Recover check leathers as required.
  • Rebush keys as necessary.
  • Recover damper-heads with new stitched and cut & shaped damper-felts.

Miscellaneous finishing work.

  • Pitch-raise all strings, stretch twice and fine tune to a little sharp of A=440 to allow for slight settling in coming months.
  • Carefully regulate the touch and dampers.
  • Overhaul and clean pedal assembly and lyre.

Cabinetwork restoration.

  • Strip off all existing degenerated lacquer from casework.
  • Identify wood-veneer (we now know this is probably rosewood).
  • Major repair to two of the three legs to reinstate the original threads.
  • Rub down, minor repairs to damaged veneer as appropriate, and prepare for repolishing.
  • Seal and lightly stain the wood.
  • Hand refinish the casework in the traditional satin-waxed finish.
  • Clean & polish the brasswork.

Assemble the piano, and final checks before arranging delivery back to Coventry.

Certificate of release

Here’s the certificate from the Bechstein company themselves, indicating when “our” piano left their factory after manufacture in 1878.

Rosewood veneer

We have just heard from the piano restorers that the Bechstein piano has a beautiful and most unusual rosewood veneer underneath the standard black lacquer. The restorers say: “In complete contrast to our expectations to be finding the standard ebonised pearwood – standard for ebonised finishes – instead there is a rich rosewood veneer. It is unusual to say the least to find rosewood underneath a black lacquer, but since Bechstein would never have used a fine veneer like this to be subsequently black (why would they ??), the only realistic conclusion is that this piano, when despatched from Bechstein’s factory, would originally have been rosewood, and that, at some time in its past, someone felt the need to alter (cover-up) its original finish from rosewood with an ebonised lacquer…. [T]he appearance of rosewood is a real bonus, due to the richness of the grain and the wonderful beauty of the woodgrain cabinetwork”.