World of G & S

Sullivan's Broadwood Piano

Tom Conti with the Broadwood piano Among the many fascinating exhibits to be found in the museum are two very special pianos, one is a very small upright, purchased by the young Arthur Sullivan from Broadwood`s in 1867. Sullivan was around 25 years old, and had not yet achieved his fame or wealth. The piano - known as a piannette - cost Sullivan 25 guineas, it was the smallest and cheapest that Broadwoods made, and all that young Arthur could afford at that time, but it was the beginning of a brilliant career, and soon compositions flowed with the aid of this little piano.

Another piano on display is also a Broadwood piano that Arthur Sullivan provided for his mistress Mrs Mary Frances "Fanny" Ronalds, this grand piano was housed in her home in Cadogan Square in London. Mrs Ronalds was known for musical parties, and it was at these occasions that the Prince of Wales attended along with other members of the Royal Family and the cream of society.



Jane Martin playing the Broadwood piano The highlight of these musical evenings would be when Mrs Ronalds would sing Sullivan's "The Lost Chord" with Sir Arthur at this very piano.
This second photograph shows Mrs Ronalds's Broadwood piano being played by Jane Martin, who became the principal soubrette in The J. C. Williamson Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company in Australia in the 1950s.