The Golden Age of Pianos: An Exhibition of Luxurious, Art Cased Pianos Running alongside Leeds Piano Competition 29th August - 16th September 2012 at Besbrode Pianos

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As official partners of "The Leeds 2012", Besbrode Pianos has transported a collection of 21 pianos from across Europe to feature exclusively in The Golden Age of Pianos exhibition, each of artistic and cultural interest. The collection includes a piano designed by Peter Behrens (a leading Art Nouveau German artist), Oskar Kaufmann (A Hungarian-Jewish architect), a Broadwood designed by T G Jackson and made for Athelstan Riley's Music Gallery and pianos designed for the Great Exhibitions. For more information visit: http://www.besbrodepianos.co.uk/golden-age-of-pianos-exhibition.htm An online archive of the event will be available at this URL once the exhibition closes.

The Golden Age of Pianos: An exhibition of luxurious, art cased pianos 29th August - 16th September 2012 at Besbrode Pianos

The Golden Age of Pianos: An exhibition of luxurious, art cased pianos 29th August - 16th September 2012 at Besbrode Pianos

Around the turn of the twentieth century the wealthy commissioned bespoke, art cased pianos as visible status symbols to stand as centrepieces in a room. The breathtaking craftsmanship illustrated by these pianos reflect a golden age of piano making.

Around the turn of the twentieth century a period of prosperity inspired an interest in culture and the arts. As the only source of music in the home, the domestic importance of the piano was at its peak. At this time the wealthy commissioned bespoke, art cased pianos as visible status symbols to stand as centrepieces in a room. Technical innovation of the instrument had reached its maturity prompting a flourish in custom made, luxurious cases.

The breathtaking craftsmanship illustrated by these pianos reflect a climactic time in piano making and stand as monuments to the position of the piano in social history. By 1905, gramophone and disc recordings were available allowing the passive enjoyment of music.

The Golden Age of Pianos is an exhibition of pianos from this resplendent era.

As part of the collection, your chance to view the show stopping "Peter Behrens" Schiedmayer piano. Peter Behrens was a leading German, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil artist and the piano reflects this style. The case is inlaid with geometric designs in mother of pearl, lapis lazuli and malachite. The lid resembles an angels wing. The brass inlay of the company's name Schiedmayer was made in Peter Behrens own typography, created in 1900. This piano was designed by Peter Behrens to stand in the music room of his house in the Artist Colony of Darmstadt, Germany.

Opposite, A Bechstein Model C piano that originally had pride of place on the Bechstein stand at the 1898 Berlin Trade Fair and stood adjacent to the famous "Rheingold" Bechstein. It is the only piano of this design in existence. Professor Max Koch created the design for these Bechstein pianos based on themes found in Richard Wagner's great Ring Cycle works. The piano features elaborate, carved detail. Twisted around the rear leg is a two-headed serpent dragon perhaps "Fafner" from Wagner's third opera "Siegfried".

The Georges Meunier piano is a personal favourite. This 1893, Pleyel grand piano is hand-painted with fairies, satyrs, nudes, monkeys, mythical creatures, birds, flowers and crested composers names. The efficiency of line and style of brushwork reveal the work of a true master. Georges Meunier (1869 - 1942) was an eminent french poster artist producing more than fifty original posters for advertising products and parisian events. His works are now considered iconic and reflect a golden era of french poster art.

The Golden Age of Pianos exhibition is situated at Besbrode Pianos showroom spanning four floors of a victorian mill based in Leeds. Since 1979, Besbrode Pianos has specialised in buying and selling pianos. With over 250 new and secondhand pianos on display at any time, ready to play and compare, it is one of the UK's largest piano retailers. Agents for Steinway & Sons. The full range of Steinway, Boston and Essex pianos available to purchase. A new, Steinway Model D grand piano chosen by Barry Douglas is available for hire. For last six years Besbrode Pianos has been official partner to the Leeds International Piano Competition, providing pianos for the competitor's rehearsals.

The Leeds International Piano Competition was founded in 1963, by Dame Fanny Waterman, Marion Thorpe CBE, then the Countess of Harewood, and her late husband, Dr. Geoffrey de Keyser and is now regarded by the international music community as the greatest international piano competition in the world. The Competition has been a springboard for many celebrated musicians including Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu, Andras Schiff and Mitsuko Uchida.
The 17th Leeds International Piano Competition 2012 takes place from 29 August to 16 September. Tickets can be purchased from Leeds International Concert Season website.

The exhibition is free entry. We are hoping it will be of interest to the audience who is already in Leeds for the piano competition.

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Steven Leeming

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