Somerset Pianist records album on historic square piano

Jonthan Delbridge sitting at his square piano and smiling at the camera
Musician Jonathan Delbridge will record his album on an 1815 Regency Period Broadwood Square Piano

A pianist says he wants to tell the story of the square piano by recording an album using the historic instrument.

Jonathan Delbridge, from South Petherton in Somerset, has been giving performances using his 1814 Regency Period Broadwood Square Piano.

He said audiences have been fascinated by the instrument and its connection to classical composers.

Recording the album "The Story of the Square Piano" will help him share it with a wider audience, he said.

Composers such as Mozart and Edward Elgar would have used the square piano, as well as novelist Jane Austen, added Mr Delbridge.

He said the instrument has more of a delicate sound compared to the modern piano.

"Being a classical pianist, I've always been interested in listening to pianos of the periods where composers were writing this music," he said.

He explained how there was an "explosion" in the popularity of the square piano in the mid 18th Century to the early 19th Century.

The strings of a square piano
The square piano is said to have more of a delicate sound compared to the modern piano

Despite the name 'square piano', he said the instrument is more rectangular in shape.

The strings are much smaller on a square piano and the instrument is held together by wood, instead of an iron frame.

"Think of almost a table really, but you open it up and reveal a piano keyboard," he said.

Jonthan Delbridge playing his square piano
The square piano is more compact in size than an upright modern piano

He said the instrument was "revolutionary" due to its affordability and more convenient shape and size.

"The early grand pianos were not very affordable for most people," he added.

"Had it not been for the square piano, maybe the piano wouldn't have gained the popularity it has today."

When the upright piano took over in 1850, many square pianos were abandoned and some turned into desks.

Mr Delbridge said the ones that survived are usually in poor condition and need a huge amount of work to get them back to playing standard, although there has been a "revival".

"There are people who do restore them and look after them and care for them," he said.

Mezzo soprano Molly Jasmine Soo will join Mr Delbridge on some of the album tracks.

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