David Winston’s California home hides true treasures: 26 pianos that make an impressive collection.
France Press agency
United Kingdom (AFP). A rare piano collection by an American restorer who worked on Chopin, Beethoven and the British royal family is up for auction. Including five pedal parts and two keyboardsOpen in the center like a butterfly.
In the town of Bidenden, in Kent (southeast of England), a royal decree stuck above one of the doors attracts attention: “By order of Her Majesty the Queen, restoration and restoration of pianos.”
The house hides true treasures: 26 pianos collected by David Winston of California throughout his life. His impressive collection – some pieces can be worth up to £60,000 (€71,000, $83,000) – will go on sale starting September 1 at the Drewits’ home, before the craftsman retires in Venice.
“I’m almost 71, it’s a moment”, explains to AFP a repairman of tools that have passed through prestigious hands.
Among other things, he restored “quite a few royal instruments”, such as the pianos that belonged to Queen Elizabeth II herself, despite reservations about this work.
And it counts for him It also tells of the restoration of the French piano Pleyel that belonged to his “great hero” Frédéric Chopin. But his greatest pride is that he was able to restore the Beethoven wood, which is preserved in the Hungarian National Museum.
“When I first entered that room, I saw the piano that had Beethoven’s name on it, and the hair at the back of my neck was upright.”, characterized by the enthusiasm of David Winston.
Five pedals or two keyboards
Among the pianos he sells, Tools were found especially from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. One, entirely built by Winston, is a replica of a 19th-century Vienna musical instrument.
its peculiarity? It has five pedals, while most modern pianos have only three. Additional pedals allow you to produce a drum and bell effect or a bassoon-like rattle – perfect for the fighting music that was so popular at the time.
“Compared to the modern piano, it is softer and has a very delicate sound,” explains Chinese pianist Xiawen Shang, who considers it her favourite.
This student at the famous Royal Academy of Music in London, who plays the Schubert sonata on the instrument, explains that she also loves to play the Pleyel Duoclave. Equipped with a keyboard on each side, this special piano allows two musicians to play head-to-head, with the volume high between the two.
“It’s very rare: only fifty copies have been made,” Winston said. The instrument was owned by Madeleine Leaux, the famous French pianist and wife of French writer and minister André Malraux.
But David Winston’s collection isn’t just old-fashioned. It also features pianos designed for the 20th century lifestyle.
Collector or hobbyist
Among the more unusual pieces is the futuristic grand piano clad in shiny silver aluminium. Xiaowen Shang began playing “The Way We Were,” a 1970s song performed by Barbra Streisand.
This machine made by the Dutch company Rippen, which no longer exists, says Winston “dating back to the 1960s.” “It’s really stable and looks good,” he adds. “There were quite a few on the ships and there was one on the airship.”
The walnut “butterfly tail” piano from Wurlitzer, a company best known for its instruments and music boxes, is also striking: its lid opens in the middle on two wings, creating a stereo effect.
According to the restorer, potential buyers can be collectors looking for “rare gadgets” and simple hobbyists, “simply looking for something unusual and rare that will completely transform a room.”