My idea for this flash-weekend trip to London was to take it easy and simply enjoy being in the city -but I should have known that plans just make themselves there!
Unbeknownst to me, the Royal Academy of Music in Marylebone houses a small museum that is open to the public. The whole building is a labyrinthine combination of old structures, new annexes, expansions, corridors, staircases, elevators… Me, I just followed Jayson. That was yesterday, and if I were to return right now, I wouldn’t be able to make it past reception without getting hopelessly lost. They would find me weeks later, in some abandoned practice room somewhere. The whole place was crawling with kids going up and down, some dragging instruments bigger than themselves, or generally just looking very busy.
The museum is divided across three floors and displays the evolution of pianos, wind and string instruments. Violins don’t seem to have changed all that much over the years, whereas the oboe starts out being recogniseably like a flute but ends up like something straight out of a steampunk movie.
The pianos are simply beautiful -the oldest ones are made entirely out wood, but as they become more modern they incorporate iron supports and finally a full cast iron frame. It is fascinating that, while the keyboard has remained largely unmodified for so long, to what an extent the engineering work has changed “behind the scenes”, so to speak.
If you ask, the museum’s staff will play something on the pianos for you, to demonstrate how different they sound. The nuances were largely lost on me, but there was a distinct progression from a sound very close to a harpsichord to that of the modern grand piano.
That was followed by a double-decker trip back to the Brunswick. Back when I lived there, I always forgot that they have a market on Saturdays. I could swear I recognise some of the names on the stands from Borough Market. We had a nice lunch there, but it was so damn freezing that the food got cold on the way from the pan to the plate!