Six Degrees of Separation

December 17, 2010 at 1:33 pm (news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I was thinking last night: Emma Smith has a Beethoven connection! How so? you might ask… Through his pianoforte!

I uncovered this little tidbit when researching the Knyvett family — Charles Knyvett Sr., and his sons Charles and William — for an article in Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine.

Let’s start at the beginning: How I even came to know the name Knyvett.

Emma Smith’s diaries, especially in her teen years, are replete with concerts, operas, soirées, music masters and home-concertizing. She mentions all three Knyvett men as well as William Knyvett’s second wife, the singer Deborah Travis.

♦ see pictures of the Knyvetts at the New York Public Library ♦

For the article, I pulled out Emma-quotes specific to each family member, and gave each a little biographical study. “Space” considerations meant that, in the end, a lot of information ended up on the “cutting room floor”. Including a lengthy section about Beethoven and his piano. The conundrum that still exists concerns the fact that there were two Charles Knyvetts. Even a well-respected publication like Grove’s Dictionary interchanged the two men, father for son’s accomplishments and son for father’s accomplishments. Without a LOT of digging, it may be that we can never get certain attributions correct.

It does seem that the convention of the time (if we speak of when all three men were active, musically, then the 1790s-1810s) was to refer to the men as KNYVETT (Charles Sr.), C. KNYVETT (Charles Jr.), and W. KNYVETT (William).

In 1817, the famed London pianoforte manufacturer, THOMAS BROADWOOD, “sent” Beethoven a gift:

♦ read about Beethoven’s piano at Bonn’s Beethoven-Haus

The story says that Broadwood invited five known musicians/composers to be part of the gift; they signed a presentation label within the piano. The gentlemen are given as: Friedrich Kalbrenner, Ferdinand Ries, Johann Baptist Cramer, Jacques-Godefroi Ferrari and Charles Knyvett. But which Charles Knyvett? is my question.

The Broadwood returned to England in 1992, for restoration. Yet, it didn’t come from Bonn — but from BUDAPEST, having once belonged to Franz Liszt!

♦ Watch on YouTube the Pianoforte’s Restoration ♦

Part 1 (of 5) offers information on Broadwood’s idea of the gift, Beethoven’s receipt of the piano in Vienna, and why it ended up in the Hungarian National Museum. The actual discussion of the instrument is FASCINATING! Really puts in perspective the types of pianos Mozart and Beethoven used (late 18th century; Viennese), as well as why this Broadwood is such a special instrument.

Tonight, I’ll give my “guess” as to which Charles Knyvett was the “helper” in this gift exchange. Read the rest of this entry »

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La Bella Voce II

March 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm (books, entertainment, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , )

With the publication of Jane Austen’s Regency World Magzine’s article on the Knyvetts, readers with an abiding interest in the family might like to consult some of the sources used in the article — which the magazine had no room to publish. This comes from the original, uncut version of the article ‘There Once Was a Golden Time’: The Knyvett Family Musicians.

In addition to Dictionary of National Biography (1892), Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1906) and New Grove Dictionary (2002), Brown and Stratton, British Musical Biography (1897):

Charles Knyvett, senior: Burke’s Extinct Baronetage (1841); Park, Musical Memoirs (1830); Gentleman’s Magazine (1802, 1808, 1822, 1832).

Charles Knyvett, junior: Smart, Leaves from the Journals (1907); Sainsbury, A Dictionary of Musicians (1824; rep. 1966).

William Knyvett: London Magazine (July-Dec, 1822); An Authentic History of the Coronation of His Majesty (1821); Annual Register (1856).

Deborah Knyvett: Victoria Magazine (1876); Matthew, ‘The Antient Concerts, 1776-1848,’ in Proceedings of the Musical Association (1907); London Magazine (Sept-Dec, 1825); The Quarterly Music Magazine (1818); The Manchester Iris: A Literary and Scientific Miscellany (19 Oct 1822).

Many of these sources are available online at books.google.com. The single most wonderful find of a source is the 1907 article on The Antient Concerts. Reading that I found out why young Belinda had to be smuggled in!

The first part of this post can be found here; anyone wishing to see pictures of the Knyvett quartet, visit the New York Public Library website; the three Knyvett men can also be found at the National Portrait Gallery. Anyone wishing to read the longer version of this article, email me (contact information found under “the author” tab).

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