Music on the menu at Gunsgreen House

ON Saturday, October 1, the audience at Eyemouth’s Gunsgreen House will be transported back to an early 19th century Scottish drawing room to hear music of the time played on an authentic piano from the period.

At the time Scottish tunes were all the rage and enterprising Edinburgh publisher, James Thomson had the idea of commissiong Europe’s greatest composers, including Haydn and Beethoven, to provide arrangements suitable for a drawing room performance by an amateur pianist, with the optional extra of parts for violin and cello. It is this augmented version that will be played at Gunsgreen next week.

Also to be heard in the famous mansion house will be sets of piano variations on Scottish Airs taken from Clementi’s ‘Art of Playing the Piano’, a volume from which many young ladies of the Regency period would have perfected the social art of playing the pianoforte.

The piano being used for the evening of entertainment at Gunsgreen is particularly fitting as its maker, John Broadwod, came from Oldhamstocks.

John would have been 20 when construction of Gunsgreen commenced under the supervision of architect John Adam.

In 1761, aged 29, after apparently walking the 400 miles from Scotland, he was apprenticed to the London harpsichord builder Burkat Shudi, whose daughter he was to marry and thus take over the business on Shudi’s death in 1773.

Broadwood’s first square pianos were produced shortly after this and the one used at Gunsgreen was made in 1802.

The Gunsgreen Ensemble will be led next Saturday by John Grundy whose career has included a spell in Australia as conductor of the Sydney Opera House Orchestra. For 10 years he was director of St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh during which time he lived in Berwick.

Now, director of Sheffield Music Academy, John will be joined by mezzo soprano Judy Brown who last performed with him in 2006 in a concert recreating the pianist Lizst’s concert tour.

Tickets for the event are priced at £12 (advance booking only) and are available from Gunsgreen House, by emailing enquiries@gunsgreenhouse.org or by ringing (018907) 52062.