The Brighton Phil was contacted earlier this year by Lancing College who are researching the history of their Steinway Model D concert grand piano. Graduate Music Assistant Fraser Harrington spent an afternoon in the Brighton Phil office looking through papers as far back as 1936 trying to find evidence for a story that the college purchased the piano from the Brighton Philharmonic Society in the 1950s, and that it might have been played by Rachmaninov himself.
The composer certainly appeared with the Brighton Phil (or the Brighton Society of Symphonic Players as it was then known) in a recital at Brighton Dome on Sat 19 March 1938. He performed Beethoven Sonata in D Minor, three of his own Etudes-Tableaux, and works by Chopin, Liszt, Bach, Wagner & Paganini on a Steinway piano.
Sadly our records were unable to confirm the tale, but Fraser is continuing his investigations with Steinway & Sons and Lancing College’s archives.
Watch this space for any further developments…