The Historical Pianist: A Conference-Festival

An inaugural conference-festival celebrating historical pianos and pianists as a source for creativity in performance today, will take place on 22–24 April 2016 at the Royal Academy of Music (London) and the Cobbe Collection, Hatchlands Park (Guildford, UK). This event brings together performer-researchers, historical instrument experts and historical keyboard instruments, in the unprecedented setting of two significant historical instrument collections in the UK. It offers a platform for artistic research that focuses on the creative potential in historical sources for pianists today.

Keynote presentations will be by Professor David Owen Norris (University of Southampton) at the Cobbe Collection and Professor Kenneth Hamilton (Cardiff University) at the Royal Academy of Music. There will also be a keynote recital by Daniel-Ben Pienaar (Royal Academy of Music). The three day event will include guided tours of each collection, presentations, concerts, discussions and panel.

Delegates can register as both academics, or interested members of the public. There are two separate forms for this (click links). By registering as a delegate, you can attend all three days of the conference-festival, including catering for breaks between sessions. Due to the nature of the venues, limited seating is available, so it early registration is advised to avoid disappointment.

In addition to this, the final day of the conference, held in the larger venue of the David Josefowitz Recital Hall, will have seats available for non-delegates. These are free, but ticketed through the Academy Box Office.

Proposals are invited for 40–45 minute presentations that can range from a recital or lecture-recital, to a more traditional paper. Shorter papers of 20 minutes duration will also be considered. Performances can be solo or chamber. Every presentation will be followed by a 10 minute discussion. All spoken elements to the conference will be in English. The conference-festival aims to encompass a range of approaches from different practitioners and researchers in the field. As an example, delegates may choose to focus on a particular instrument, instrument type, repertoire, composer, pianist, pedagogical figure, school of playing etc.

Timetable; Registration Form — Academic; Registration Form — General; Information Sheet; Abstracts and Biographies


The registration fee for delegates (presenting and observing) will be £120 (early bird £100) and student rate of £90.

The conference-festival is organised by Olivia Sham. Any enquires can be sent to


Historical instruments available at the Royal Academy of Music Museum include:
Polygonal virginal, Anonymous, Italian, first half of 17th century
Harpsichord, Jacob & Abraham Kirkman, London, 1764
Square piano, Christopher Ganer, London, c.1785
Square piano, John Broadwood & Sons, London, 1801
Grand piano, John Broadwood & Sons, London, 1805
Grand piano, John Broadwood & Sons, London, 1808
Grand piano, Giovanni Heichele, Trieste, c.1815
Grand piano, William Stodart, London, c.1828
Grand piano, Érard, London, 1840
Square piano, Pleyel, Paris, c.1842
Grand piano, John Broadwood & Sons, London, 1844
Grand piano, Steinway & Sons, New York, 1920
Clavichord, Dolmetsch, 1925-6

Historical instruments available at the Cobbe Collection include:
Harpsichord, Girolama Zenti, Viterbo, 1622
Harpsichord, Andreas Ruckers, Antwerp, 1636
Virginals (King Charles II’s), John Player, London, 1664
Square piano, Johannes Zumpe & Gabriel Buntebart, London, 1769
Square piano, Johannes Zumpe & Gabriel Buntebart, London, 1777-78
Clavichord, Christian Gotthelf Hoffmann, Ronneburg, 1784
Square piano (Marie Antoinette’s), Sébastien Erard, Paris, 1786-87
Double manual harpsichord, Shudi & Broadwood, London, 1787
Grand piano, Crang Hancock, London, c.1790
Grand piano, circle of Johanna Andreas Stein, South Germany or Vienna, last quarter 18thC
Grand piano (Haydn’s), Longman & Broderip, London, 1794-95
Grand piano, Longman & Broderip, London, c.1795
Grand piano, Walter, Vienna, c.1815
Grand piano (performed & signed by Cramer), Broadwood, 1816
Grand piano (quadruple strung), Graf, Vienna, c.1821
Grand piano, Nannette Streicher, Vienna, 1823
Square piano (Elgar’s), Broadwood, London, 1844
Grand piano (performed & signed by Thalberg), Erard, Paris, 1845
Grand piano (Chopin’s), Pleyel, Paris, 1848
Grand piano (Chopin’s), Broadwood, London, 1847
Grand piano, Steinway, New York, c.1864