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#1302340 - 11/09/09 07:58 PM Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838)
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
Hi, everyone,

I also thought this post may be quite interesting to read, and would like to write out here. smile

A while ago I came across a picture of a beautiful Knabe & Gaehle piano owned by Francis Scott Key.

Before I thought Scott Key was a composer/musician who created the "The Star-Spangled Banner," but I was surprised to find that he was a lawyer who only wrote the lyrics. Here is his portrait (from Wikipedia):



Coincidently, he wrote the lyrics (according to sources) after the Battle of Baltimore, the same city where the Knabes were produced.

The piano itself, according to a description, was made in 1838, which makes it one of the earliest pianos created by William Knabe. Here is a picture:



It's quite beautiful (the craftmanship is stunning..) and is located in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Here is a link to more pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/78554788@N00/2285558197/in/photostream/

The music rack sadly seems to be broken into two, but you can still sense the beauty of the piano. I wonder if it is still playable, and would like to see it in person someday.


Thank you for reading, and feel free to leave comments about this square piano. smile


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#1302449 - 11/09/09 11:20 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Avantgardenabi]
Terry5758 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 348
Loc: Vero Beach,Florida
One of the most beautiful square pianos i have ever seen. Thanks Avant.






Terry
_________________________
Proud owner of a fully restored Feurich concert grand built in 1912 with Phoenix System.
Gotta love that German technology

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#1302700 - 11/10/09 12:19 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Terry5758]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thanks for your posting, Avant!

When I teach patriotic music I have titled the program: "Star Spangled Piano Studio". I will add this information to the collection of patriotic teaching materials. I'd not come across the piano owned by FSK before. The portrait, and the piano from 170 years ago. will certainly add to the story of the "Star Spangled Banner".

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#1302742 - 11/10/09 01:39 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Avantgardenabi]
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2739
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: Avantgardenabi

Before I thought Scott Key was a composer/musician who created the "The Star-Spangled Banner," but I was surprised to find that he was a lawyer who only wrote the lyrics.

Yes, it's true the melody of the Star Spangled Banner is in fact the English drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven." The melody is almost designed to make one's voice crack while trying to sing it so I don't know that FSK would even have wanted to lay claim to the melody. I do wonder what the inspiration was to use that particular melody.

As for the piano the woodwork is gorgeous, but square pianos have many issues which tend to prevent them from being effective musical instruments. That's why you never see them in playable condition.

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#1302786 - 11/10/09 02:39 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Steve Chandler]
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
Thanks you all for the comments. smile

I rather wish this beautiful Knabe piano was restored like this example in the Met. Museum of Art.


(By James Campbell)

Although the piano is a square, I think it still can be quite musical. The piano's sound may resemble the one featured in this video. It's quite interesting to hear Clementi in a different way:



I wouldn't mind having an early Knabe square if it's free; I would love to explore its action.

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#1302920 - 11/10/09 07:04 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Avantgardenabi]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Avante,

I'm surprized by the lightness of the sound and the ease you have in playing the keyboard which does not seem very deep to the touch. I admire your quiet hands bringing us the brightness of Clementi so effortlessly. I believe you played without pedaling. How did this experience feel to you?

Is the chair in the Museum picture related to the piano in design? Does it happen to be the "bench" to the piano do you think? I think it's sad that most older pianos do not have matching benches.

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#1303364 - 11/11/09 03:17 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Betty Patnude]
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
I wish I can get a credit for the playing (and really be grateful of your praises), but the person in the video is sadly not me. Still, you can contact this pianist through Youtube. smile

I am not sure about the chair; it seems the chair does match the piano in style.

It is quite sad that older pianos do not have matching stools or benches; I wonder what happened to them, including the one that belonged to the featured Knabe.

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#1303445 - 11/11/09 05:02 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Avantgardenabi]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
He looks kind of DEPRESSED, doesn't he.....
Maybe because he found out that people learned he only wrote the lyrics. smile
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1303449 - 11/11/09 05:04 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Avantgardenabi]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
But seriously folks smile thanks for the post. This is indeed very interesting.
Plus I learned that he didn't write the music! Although actually, I think I "sort of" knew that ......I had read that the tune was an old "drinking song" or something like that, but I guess I assumed that he ADAPTED the music from that.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1303452 - 11/11/09 05:06 PM Re: Francis Scott Key's Knabe Piano (1838) [Re: Steve Chandler]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
....and there is the answer. As I said, I had read that it was an old drinking song, but figured that he "did something" with it.

Pretty funny that it was DESIGNED to make one's voice crack. As we all know, it often does just that. It's one of the hardest common tunes to sing, maybe THE hardest.
With the possible exception of "Happy Birthday." smile
(How much do we ever hear people actually get that OCTAVE......)
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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