Beethoven & the Broadwood Fortepiano

Broadwood Piano

Beethoven owned a Broadwood fortepiano built in 1817, a gift from Thomas Broadwood who had met Beethoven in Vienna in the summer of that year. Broadwood asked five fortepianists living in London to help him select the appropriate instrument and had the names of these men engraved on a plaque. The keyboard of Beethoven's Broadwood spanned six octaves (CC to c''''), slightly narrower than the Beethoven Center's 1823 instrument (which extends up to f'''').

 

Map of the journey of Beethoven's Broadwood fortepiano

Broadwood Piano Trip Around EuropeIn December 1817, Broadwood shipped the instrument from London. It arrived in Vienna seven months later slightly damaged after an arduous journey over sea to Trieste, then by cart into Vienna.

Beethoven enlisted his friend, the Viennese piano builder Nanette Streicher, to make the necessary repairs. Beethoven kept the instrument at his home in the Schwarzspanierhaus until his death in 1827, and it was then sold to C. Anton Spina, a music publisher.

In 1845, Spina gave the instrument to Franz Liszt who kept it in his home in Wiemar until he donated it to the Hungarian National Museum in 1874. In 1991, Beethoven's Broadwood was restored to playable condition and was featured in a tour with the fortepianist Melvyn Tan.