Vaughan Williams’s piano has gone on display for the first time in public.
The Broadwood upright (pictured above) from 1903 is now on view at Leith Hill Place (pictured below), the British composer’s childhood home. Bequeathed to the National Trust by the composer, Leith Hill opened as a museum in 2013.
Vaughan Williams bought the ‘Honeysuckle’ piano secondhand in 1905 when he was living in Chelsea and took it with him in his 1929 move to Dorking. Although he played both the piano and the organ, he felt most at home playing the violin and the viola. But he used the piano as a composing tool, and this Broadwood was kept in the family after his death.
‘We are thrilled that an instrument so key to Vaughan Williams’s life and work now has its permanent home at Leith Hill Place,’ says Gabrielle Gale, National Trust manager for Leith Hill Place. ‘It is quite an unassuming instrument, said to suit the character of the man and it sat in the composer’s study where he used it daily to try out musical ideas, so it is a “workhorse” rather than a concert piano.’
Picture credit: National Trust/Richard Mogridge