When musicians Venetia and Ben Johannes were married the creative couple was gifted by family and friends a present on a much grander scale than the typical household accoutrements – a piano scale to be exact.
The Gloucestershire couple visited the Cambridge workshop of world-renown piano restorers 1066 to create a bespoke, playable ‘work of art’. They selected a 1930s’ Blüthner grand piano, for its warmth and transparency of tone—a perfect fit and sound for the living room of their Victorian Gothic Manor.
An Heirloom and Work of Art
This was no ordinary restoration but one that fine-tuned this instrument into a stunning heirloom. The craftsmen at 1066 used their unrivaled skill to breathe new life into the Leipzig grand, with extensive, bespoke marquetry that depicted an Art Nouveau image of the couple on the lid, surrounded by a swirling border of intertwined oak and pine leaves to echo the family crest. It was truly music to their ears and a beautiful way to merge family and art into a unique piece to pass onto future generations.
“1066 made it possible for us to build a family heirloom from scratch,” said new bride and harpist Venetia. “Rather than buying a piano “off the shelf”, we decided to buy a lovely, mahogany Blüthner, and decorate it according to our own design. And the bespoke elements, which include blank spaces left ready for later images and people in our life, means it is a truly unique piece that’s personal to us and will change and grow as we do as a family.”
“Also, we thought a piano decorated with marquetry would be more unusual and visually arresting than a painting. Something that can go down in history as really special, yet also remember the friends and guests who contributed to this amazing instrument. More symbolically: we two may sing different notes from time to time, but together we harmonize. A marriage gift of a piano, rather than, say, a set of towels, symbolises that idea.
Guitarist Ben added, “We count ourselves blessed that we are in the position now to commission a piano like this. A piano that will contribute to the family home, and to our own history. In the end the piano is a story in itself, and we hope to pass it on to posterity.”
As one of only a handful of piano restorers still in existence in the world – and considered one of the world’s finest – 1066 has been fastidiously handcrafting pianos and restoring heirloom pieces at its Cambridge workshop for more than 40 years, and over three generations. With a staff of world-class acousticians, trimmers, artists and fitters at their disposal, each meticulous, bespoke piano restoration takes up to 300 hours of painstaking work with proven, ancient processes combined with cutting edge technology.
Although piano restoration is their primary business, 1066 is often asked to make matching music cabinets, stools, pictures and mirror frames – and uses its unrivaled skill to restore other precious family heirlooms.
“The Johannes’s piano was a really exciting project for us,” says Chris Norman from 1066. “Like a fine tailored suit, we spent countless hours meeting with the couple, getting to know their preferences—such as their love of Art Nouveau—and ensuring it was the perfect fit for them.
About 1066 Pianos
1066 was founded in 1975 by Mr Norman, a physicist who wanted to apply the meticulousness of science to restoring and building fine pianos. Today, the Norman family devotes more than 10,000 square feet of workshops to piano restoration. In fact, no other piano maker and restorer in the world boasts such a unique variety of fine, handcrafted pianos. Indeed, 1066 Pianos have become the hallmark of the very best in quality piano rebuilding against which every other is measured. At auction, 1066 pianos have been bought without viewing – such is the faith in its stamp of quality. http://www.1066pianos.com