Edward Elgar’s Broadwood piano was originally built in 1844. It is a plain square piano denoted by the makers as their ‘school model’. An entry in the porter’s books in the Broadwood archive notes that:
“23rd July 1844, two square pianos school model Nos.56664, and 56785 (the Elgar instrument) and cases to Mrs Skelton of Worcester. Delivered at Salisbury Arms Cow Lane to go by Crowley’s boat. No.56785 name of Temple written on case.”
Elgar’s father was in business in Worcester as a piano tuner and ran a music shop. At some stage, perhaps in 1867 when an inscription records the instrument as being repaired by Elgar Bros, the family business acquired the piano.
Elgar chose it from his father’s stock for his cottage near Malvern and he inscribed on the soundboard names of some of the works he composed on it.
After 1903, the piano went to the composer’s sister, and afterwards was reacquired by Broadwoods.
Dr Robert Anderson writes of the years in which Elgar worked at The Dream of Gerontius on this instrument and how early experiments of The Enigma Variations would have taken place on it.
The property of the Royal Academy of Music, on permanent loan to the Cobbe Collection Trust.
Elgar – Nimrod from The Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (the composer’s own piano version)