Musical instruments are a winner at auction

With self isolation very much at the forefront of people’s minds at present, this week my thoughts turned to a way of life rather than an artefact.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 1:31 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd March 2020, 1:31 pm

Before the radio, the television, the internet, the telephone, not to mention the mobile phone and the gaming craze whatever did people do?

They invited a few friends round for an evening of music. In the past chamber music was a private affair in which the privileged few were entertained with sonatas and string quartets. The very wealthy sometimes employed their own composer to write music just for them, but the general public had no access to this wonderful world.

Gradually however, over many years the piano became a more affordable instrument for the middle class family, which in turn encouraged the market for chamber music. Soon the music for piano duets and simple songs was being purchased everywhere. Opera goers could now buy simple arrangements of their favourite operatic arias and perform them at home.

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Less popular were the violin sonatas and string quartets as they demanded a high level of musical training. But as the standard of tuition improved, so the demand for instrumental chamber music increased.

In the saleroom today there is always a very good demand for musical instruments and in fact it would be fair to say that in a way the tables have turned since the very early days of chamber music and the piano's popularity. Stringed instruments are generally speaking much the better seller in the auction room today.