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Square piano

Square piano

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1767 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Zumpe, Johannes Christopher (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Case and stand of mahogany, with stringing of boxwood or holly; the sharps are of ebony and the naturals are covered with ivory

  • Museum number:

    W.27-1928

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Johannes Christopher Zumpe emigrated from Germany to England during the 1750s. He set up business as a piano maker in Princess Street in London in 1761. This is one of his well-known single or 'English action' pianofortes. Basically, it is a square pianoforte with a single action, the precursor of the modern piano. It is one of the earliest known examples of its type.

Johann Christian Bach (the son of Johann Sebastian Bach) gave the first public pianoforte recital in England in 1768, on an instrument that he had acquired from Zumpe. It is probable this recital that accelerated the popularity of the pianoforte. Johannes Christopher Zumpe made his fortune producing such pianos.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1767 (made)

Artist/maker

Zumpe, Johannes Christopher (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Case and stand of mahogany, with stringing of boxwood or holly; the sharps are of ebony and the naturals are covered with ivory

Marks and inscriptions

IOHANNES CHRISTOPHER ZUMPE LONDINI FECIT 1767 / PRINCESS STREET HANOVER SQUARE
1) Makers's mark; inscribed; on case; inscribing

Dimensions

Length: 126.5 cm case, Width: 47 cm case, Depth: 16.3 cm case

Labels and date

SQUARE PIANO
English
Inscribed Johannes Christopher Zumpe Londini Fecit 1767/ Princess Street Hanover Square
The case is made of mahogany with stringing of boxwood or holly. The sharps are ebony and the naturals covered with ivory. The instrument's range is fifty-five notes, GG - f3.

Keyboard Catalogue No.: 29

Johannes Zumpe emigrated from Germany to England during the 1750s, setting up business as a piano maker in Princes street, London in 1761. He made a fortune selling square pianoes with a single or "English" action. C.P.E.Bach, son of the famous J.S.Bach, performed concerts, both making the instrument fashionableand increasing Zumpe's sales. He retired to Germany probably in about 1783.

Zumpe developed a simple mechanism which enabled the hammers to strike the strings and was also easy to reproduce cheaply. However, they could bounce back and hit the strings again, while the key was still pressed down. In 1767 Thomas Grey observed that "the bass is not quite a piece with the treble, and the higher notes are somewhat dry and sticky".

W.27-1928 [pre September 2000]

Production Note

Date and location of manufacture are inscribed on the case.

Materials

Holly; Boxwood; Ivory; Ebony

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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