1902 Pianola Concert Centenary
by Adam Ramet

ramet_pianola1902a.jpg (19 kb)This Thursday (28th February) marks the centenary of the first currently known Pianola Concert in the UK.  I am sending you a copy of the original programme for the recital to see.  The pictures are black and white (so they reproduced well for the previous PPG bulletin).  The original cover was a mid-blue color with "Programme" embossed in gold lettering on the front.

The 1902 concert was organized by Milsoms, very large music dealers from Clifton, Bristol, at that time. It appears to have been a proper recital at a smart large venue and was no tiny private affair.

Until recently the earliest known proper player recital was a later one (by a week or so only!) which was performed at Steinway Hall in London using a Cecilian push-up piano player operated by Reginald Reynolds.  There is a centenary recital at the hall shortly to celebrate the anniversary of this later recital.

I take care to say that this is the earliest currently known UK recital.  It too easy to use superlatives like "the earliest" only to be blown out of the water once something earlier comes to light.  This programme turned up on eBay just a few months ago and re-defined which was the earliest UK recital at a stroke.  The funny thing was the seller lived three roads away from my family home in Essex (a very long way from Bristol) and had no interest in music at all!

Apparently Aeolian began a concertizing program in 1902 so this one, being from 1902 may have been at Aeolian's prompting.  We may never know; but there again you never what'll turn up next!

Nothing public is being done to celebrate this particular centenary.  May I suggest you have a hunt through your rolls and see if you have any of the tunes that were played.  If you do, then perhaps you might give them a private run through in your own homes on Thursday and celebrate in a very small way a rather obscure but unique centenary in the history of the pianola.

Best regards

Adam Ramet
Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, England
Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2002 1:35 PM

High resolution images:  ramet_pianola1902.jpg  (239 kb),  ramet_pianola1902b.jpg  (176 kb)

ramet_pianola1902b1.jpg (46 kb)ramet_pianola1902b2.jpg (39 kb)

02 March 2002