The final instrument I have been researching is the mini grand piano in the Drawing Room at Attingham. Believed to have been part of the 3rd Lord Berwick’s collection, the piano was manufactured by Collard and Collard of London in 1836. The piano is significancant because it was one of the last to be built only of mahogany wood; later pianos have a part-metal frame work.
Musical instruments are particularly affected by humidity and temperature due to the materials they are made of, and the delicate nature of the precise mechanisms. This is a particularly good example of why it is important to maintain a steady humidity level in the house, so we do not cause any unnecessary climate changes to the instruments.
– Mini grand piano in the Drawing Room
The last Lady Berwick was trained as a pianist to a professional concert standard by one of Europe’s most respected piano teachers, Anna Langenhan. In 1904, when Teresa was aged 14, she moved with her famaily to Munich so that her and her sister could improve their language and musical skills. Back in Venice in 1913, she continued with her lessons and she also performed at several concerts.
After her marriage, Teresa moved to England to live with Lord Berwick on the Attigham Estate. We do not know how much she played the piano whilst at Attingham but we do know that in 1922 she played at a charity concert at nearby Cross Houses to raise money for the Nursing Association. This would have been an organisation close to her heart as Teresa had served as a Red Cross nurse on the Italian Front Line during the First World War.
However we do still have her music books at Attingham and they contain pieces by Wagner, Schumann, Haydn, Chopin and Mozart. In May 1913, Teresa played Chopin Nocturne Op. 27 No. 2 and Debussy ‘Reflets sur l’eau’ at a concert in Venice.
Musical instruemnts would have added sound and atmosphere to rooms, and they still do today. We have been able to use information from our archives to research what music may have been played on these instruments and these pieces are played in the house when we are open.
The instruments in our collection provide a fascinating insight into the story behind the Berwick family and Attingham and I hope these blog posts have put into context the role of these objects at Attingham. But there are still unanswered questions. When were these instruments played? Were they used for performances? How did the harp and organ escape the bankruptcy sale? Maybe future research will be able to uncover these mysteries.