Art Case Concert Grand Piano Makes a Home at Peabody Reply

Photography by Ben Johnson

A new piano has been added to the Peabody Institute; specifically, an art case concert grand made by Wm. Knabe & Co. in Baltimore in 1899 and donated to Peabody in memory of Michela Mitchell Halpern.

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Rosewood veneer with boxwood and rosewood marquetry blanket the 15 panels around the sides of the piano as well as the lid, fallboard, and music desk. The marquetry is done in the Nouveau style or Jugenstil, which was popularly used in art, architecture, and children’s books and features outdoor scenes of a festival with many musical instruments.

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There are a total of 13 legs, with nine of the legs baring 36 carved faces and cherubs. Each of the nine legs has four different faces carved on every side of the leg evocative of illustrations in German children’s books. Among these faces are a bearded man, a laughing woman, and an old man. On two of the legs a cherub with two tails is carved on all four sides of the leg.

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After the piano’s construction in 1899 it was shipped to the National Export Exposition in Philadelphia. The piano was given the silver medal at the exposition, the highest award granted to a musical instrument. The piano is currently on display at the George Peabody Library.

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