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Sit again and examine the myriad instruments owned by Queen Victoria and her spouse Prince Albert
Queen Victoria’s musical devices
Buckingham Palace, London
It might have been described by none other than Proms director David Pickard as ‘an spectacular piece of bling’ but Queen Victoria’s Erard piano has expended lots of decades sitting demurely in Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Home. Lemon-tinted sofas are grouped in front of the hearth, the piano to a single aspect. No flight of extravagant to photo Victoria, Albert and any musical company accomplishing immediately after dinner.
‘Victoria’s journal displays that she performed the piano practically each individual day from her teens,’ claims Sally Goodsir, assistant curator of attractive arts at the Royal Collection Rely on. ‘Her musical romantic relationship with Albert was that of equals. He was an attained pianist and singer and encouraged Victoria to play, while only for her possess fulfillment, or for loved ones and friends.’
The established Erard piano maker numbered Liszt and Mendelssohn amid its devotees. The shipping and delivery of Victoria’s 1856 alternative was extensively claimed. The Early morning Post famous the ‘delicately executed floral and arabesque surroundings’ enshrouding the symbols for tunes and dancing painted on ‘the groundwork of solid gold [sic], extremely varnished and polished.’
This was not Victoria’s to start with Erard, states Goodsir. ‘It was what you may possibly get in touch with an upgrade. The 1856 instrument has very a smooth tone, which may well have appealed to Albert’s temperament.’
Buckingham Palace, London
The route via the Palace usually takes you past the East Gallery’s array of priceless paintings to the plushly appointed Ballroom. The eye is caught by the gallery surmounted by the sizeable early 19th-century organ by Henry Cephas Lincoln. It is however performed at official features.
The organ started off life in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion. When Victoria and Albert determined to lengthen Buckingham Palace for their ever-developing family members, the authorities agreed on condition that the Pavilion was offered. ‘Victoria and Albert understood the organ properly and stored keep of it after the sale,’ Goodsir describes. ‘They were both equally organists – Victoria experienced an instrument in her non-public rooms. She pumped the bellows when Albert played.’
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Fronted by a ‘spacious orchestra’, the by-now-tailored organ graced the glittering Condition Concert for the opening of the ‘Ball and Concert Room’ in July 1856. Disappointingly, claims Goodsir, ‘we have no concept if the royal couple at any time crept into the space to play the organ privately!’
Basse de violon (mysterious maker)
Royal Selection Rely on
Nevertheless not presently on show, this musical treasure (a relative of the double bass) is as evocative as any in the Royal Collection. Owned by the initially terrific double bass virtuoso, Domenico Dragonetti, it was bequeathed at his dying in 1846 to Prince Albert, who listened to him enjoy it the prior year – a person of numerous times the pair satisfied.
The astounding Dragonetti very first produced waves in his native Venice, but by the mid-1790s experienced settled in London. He proved triumphantly that the double bass could be far additional than a workhorse. Just before him, the instrument seemed ‘to wage eternal war with melody’, explained a person observer, but Dragonetti could convey ‘the charms of comfortable harmonious sounds’.
His compositions for the double bass have been recorded by Leon Bosch, who claims ‘they demonstrate his approach set extraordinary new specifications. Works like the famed Solo in E small, which he undoubtedly performed for Albert, show there was also an elegance to his actively playing.’
Alexandre et Fils harmonium
Osborne Dwelling, Isle of Wight
Consider the Lymington-Yarmouth ferry to West Wight and generate across charming countryside to Osborne Residence in East Cowes – a favourite home of Victoria and Albert. It consists of several of their instruments, including this Paris-built harmonium in the Prince Consort’s Dressing/Producing Area, with its view down to the Solent. It are not able to be 100 per cent verified that this is the Prince Consort’s Osborne Property 1844 harmonium as mentioned in Victoria’s journals, but it would seem incredibly most likely.
This instrument, with its fetching rosewood circumstance, recollects the harmonium’s massive 19th-century level of popularity, from countless cheaper examples in chapels and churches to imposing live performance corridor versions. Really serious-minded composers like Rossini and Berlioz wrote for the harmonium, relishing the orchestral selection of appears readily available in the grandest illustrations. Albert’s harmonium has a lot more modest abilities, but likely served its master perfectly.
Major graphic: Queen Victoria seeing Prince Albert enjoying the organ to Felix Mendelssohn. © Getty Photos