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It is with some trepidation that I send this posting to the list.  I
invite comments and criticism either "on list" or directly to me by
e-mail.
 
The Iowa City Early Keyboard Society publishes its newsletter on a
sightly irregular schedule about three times a year.  Soon after the
current issue went out I received suggestions to post parts or all of it
to HPSCHD-L.  Some suggested deleting local items or business sponsors
of our organization but I have decided to post it in its entirety this
time.  Please do let me know how you feel about this sort of posting.
 
The print version contained no table of contents so I am including one
here for your convenience.
 
        President's Message
        Business Sponsors
        Article: Philip Belt -- Fortepiano Maker
        Article: Elaine Funaro to Perform
        Calendar of Early Music Events
 
 
******************************
Iowa City Early Keyboard Society
c/o Peter S. O'Donnell
308 Court Street Place
Iowa City, Iowa 52245-4655
(319) 351-9133
******************************
 
IOWA CITY EARLY KEYBOARD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER -- OCTOBER, 1996
 
PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
                                    Peter S. O'Donnell
 
Greetings, members and friends of the Iowa City Early Keyboard Society!
 
Anyone who could not attend our first concert of the season missed a
delightful performance by the many-talented Vivian Montgomery.  The
first half of the program spanned music from 1700 to the 1980s and was
played entirely on harpsichord.  For the second half, Vivan performed
music from the 18th and 19th centuries using a copy of the 1784 Johann
Andreas Stein fortepiano.
 
The 1996-97 Iowa City Early Keyboard Society concert series will
continue with solo harpsichord recitals by Elaine Funaro and Bonnie
Choi.   Mark your calendar!
 
      November 3, 2:00 PM..............Elaine Funaro, harpsichord
 
      March 9, 1:30 PM...................Bonnie Choi, harpsichord
 
 
 
Thank you to our 1996-97 Business Sponsors:
 
Brandt Heating and Air Conditioning
Eble Music
First National Bank
Hills Bank and Trust Co.
International World of Bikes
Iowa State Bank and Trust Co.
Prairie Lights Books
The Soap Opera
University of Iowa Community Credit Union
West Music Company
 
 
PHILIP BELT - FORTEPIANO MAKER
                         Peter S. O'Donnell
 
Malcolm Bilson (noted Cornell University scholar, fortepianist and
recording artist) once said, "Philip Belt was a pathfinder for today's
builders of period instruments... I think you might say that, thanks to
Philip Belt, other people realized what could be done here..."
 
Philip Belt is an outspoken fellow who builds the pianos of Mozart and
Haydn in an ancient barn in Hagerstown, Indiana.  Since I met him at the
Midwestern Historical Keyboard Society meeting in April, 1996, I have
learned much from and about this man who is at once single-minded,
self-effacing, eccentric and feisty.
 
Philip was born in Hagerstown, Indiana in 1927.  This town of 2,000 lies
60 miles east of Indianapolis amid fields of corn and beans.  Even as a
child, he showed the beginnings of the unique mechanical and design
skills he would develop as an adult.  Like other boys he built model
airplanes, but, in time, Philip learned to build his models from
scratch.  In high school he took four years of metal shop, and even even
made a working one-cylinder engine.
 
After graduating from high school in 1945 Philip did not find employment
at the piston ring plant in Hagerstown like many of his classmates.
Instead he took a job in nearby New Castle repairing band instruments
for twenty-five dollars a week.  It was during this time that he learned
piano tuning from a local tuner and soon he was tuning pianos for
money.  As Philip says, "When you get into piano work, more often than
not they need more than just tuning."  More and more he was called on to
maintain and repair pianos.  It was during this time that he did
experiments in his "spare time" with various kinds of wire and
soundboard modifications to learn what he could about things that might
affect a piano's sound.
 
In 1959 an acquaintance from nearby Cambridge City called for a piano
tuning.  While there Philip was asked to look at a curiosity in the
attic.  It proved to be a German square piano (ca 1760) of four and a
half octaves.  Philip recalls, "It was a disaster; it only had a few
strings, and it didn't play."  He made drawings, learned what he could
about its origin, and decided to build a piano using it as the model:
"Something just clicked in my mind--that's what I'd like to do."
However, it was not until several years later, while living and working
in a cabinet maker's shop in Tennessee, that he completed his first copy
of an early piano.
 
Not long after, a curator of the Smithsonian Institution saw Belt's
German piano reproduction and invited him to examine and make drawings
of a fortepiano there.  That instrument was built by Johann Lodewijk
Dulcken, but at that time it was thought to have been built by Johann
Andreas Stein, due largely to a bogus label on the soundboard.
 
In the mid '60s Belt moved to Boston to apprentice with Frank Hubbard.
After two years in the Hubbard shop Philip had commissions of his own
and moved to New Hampshire to build fortepianos based on the
Smithsonian's Dulcken.  Knowledge of Philip's expertise was growing and
he was asked to restore the authentic 1784 Stein piano in the Toledo
(Ohio) Museum of Art.  This proved to be a fortunate turn indeed; not
only was he then able to build faithful reproductions of the instrument,
but with Philip's help the Stein was later to serve as the model for
kits produced by both Hubbard and Zuckermann.
 
In 1968 Philip invited Malcolm Bilson to examine one of his Dulcken
copies.  Bilson agreed, kept the instrument for a week and performed a
concert on it.  In short order he decided to buy one of Philip's
fortepianos.  This proved to be crucial for Bilson because from this
time on he began to perform almost exclusively on the fortepiano as well
as to record on Philip's instruments.
 
Demand for Philip's pianos increased and he began to offer kit
fortepianos as well as completed instruments.  In 1973 he was living and
working in Battleground, Indiana, "Close to Lafayette where William
Henry Harrison and the Indians fought in 1811," he reminded me.
Business was good, he had five commissions and he sold his kit business
to Hubbard in 1973.  In the autumn he and his fifth wife, Maribel, a
musicologist, spent their honeymoon traveling Europe on a 45 day EURAIL
pass.  They went to Copenhagen, Oslo, Trondheim, and Gothenburg, and
then to the continent to Vienna, Zurich, Berlin, Salzburg, Basel and
Nurnburg.  Philip gained access to instruments in many museums and was
able to make some detailed drawings.  It was on this trip that he
measured and studied the 1770 Stein piano.
 
Philip had wanted to study Mozart's piano, built by Anton Walter, for
some time.  In the late sixties he had written to the Mozart Museum in
Salzburg in hope of gaining access to the instrument.  The reply was
curt -- only "scientists and specialists" were permitted a close viewing
and no measurements were permitted.    He sent a second letter and
included photos of some of his work.  The reply suggested he could
examine the Walter but there would be no measuring, and building a
replica was absolutely out of the question.  So it was that Philip and
his wife arranged to see the piano one morning before the museum was
open to the public.  A curator took them to the piano and, during their
conversation, it developed that Maribel had something in common with
him.  Her brother had worked with Wernher von Braun (noted German and
later American rocket scientist) years before and so had the museum
official. "Boy, he was just elated to find someone who was associated
with Dr. von Braun," Philip says.  "He looked around and said, 'I think
it would be all right if you want to take a few measurements of the
instrument.'"  The Walter was to become one of Philip's most popular
pianos.
 
In 1974  the recession hit and Philip lost three of five commissions.
After finishing the remaining two pianos he moved to Connecticut to join
David Way at Zuckermann.  It was during this time with Zuckermann
(1975-79) that he designed their fortepiano kit.
 
By 1980 Belt had ended his fifth marriage and had six children, but his
personal life seemed to be undergoing a change.  In 1981 he met and
married Merlinda, a Filipina who is nearly as outspoken as Philip.  In
1986 they moved to the Philippines and built a home.  It was there that
Philip began a copy of the 1770 Stein piano he had studied in
Gothenburg.  A combination of influences prompted them to move back to
the United States -- among them, the inability to get good wood for
pianos and the somewhat unstable political climate.  They now live just
outside Hagerstown with their three children, Cherish, Michael and
Bobby.
 
Philip Belt is modest about his work but speaks with pride about how
some of his instruments have been used.  He recalls a visit to the
University of Illinois.  "I stopped there cold turkey one time with one
of my instruments.  I had taken it to Des Moines... and I was on my way
back.  I had a hearse at that time that I carted it around in.  I set it
up at the university, and several of the professors came around.  One
fellow sat down and played it for a little bit - playing Mozart.  It
sounded just like an angel singing.  He stopped and turned around to the
rest of us, and he said, 'I've been playing Mozart all my life, and this
is the first time I ever understood it.'"
 
To date Philip Belt has made 38 fortepianos.  He and his family have
moved into their new house and he plans to move his shop from its
current location in his sister's barn to a building to be completed near
the family home.  At an age when most have retired Philip is still
making plans.  On our last visit Merlinda and Philip were discussing the
possibility of building a  Nannette Streicher piano.
 
Editor's postscript:  Pete and Barbara O'Donnell own Philip Belt's copy
of the 1770 Stein fortepiano, an unusual instrument built in the
Philippines with a mahogany soundboard and appropriately decorated with
a reproduction antique map of the world.
 
 
ELAINE FUNARO TO PERFORM                                          .
 
Harpsichordist Elaine Funaro will be the featured artist in Early Music
Iowa's second concert of the 1996-97 season.  Ms. Funaro, a graduate of
Oberlin College and the New England School of Music, is an expert on
contemporary music for the harpsichord, as well as music by women
composers and indigenous musical forms.
 
ICEKS members may know Elaine as past president of the Southeast
Historical Keyboard Society.
 
Her Iowa City program, titled "From Naples to Venice and Beyond...",
will include harpsichord music from the 18th and 20th centuries.  The
concert, co-sponsored by Early Music Iowa and the University of Iowa
School of Music, will take place on Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 PM in the
Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol.  Admission is free and open to the
public.
 
Join us at a dinner welcoming Elaine on Saturday, November 2 at 6:00 PM
at The Brown Bottle in Iowa City.
 
In a related event, The UI School of Music Organ Department is
sponsoring a lecture-demonstration by Ms. Funaro on the topic of winners
of the Alienor Harpsichord Composition Competition.  This presentation
will take place on Saturday, November 2 at 10:30 AM in the Krapf Organ
Studio at the School of Music, and is open to members and friends of
ICEKS.
 
 
CALENDAR OF EARLY MUSIC EVENTS                              .
 
November 2, 10:30 AM, Krapf Organ Studio/UI School of Music   Elaine
Funaro gives a lecture-demonstration on winners of the Alienor
Harpsichord Composition Competition.  Members of the public and of ICEKS
are invited.
 
November 3, 2 PM, Senate Chamber, Old Capitol  Early Music Iowa and UI
School of Music present Elaine Funaro, harpsichord-
ist, in recital.  Free and open to the public.
 
November 16, 8 PM, Clapp Recital Hall  Chamber Singers of Iowa City,
directed by Kenneth Phillips present "Mozart and More", including the
Mozart Requiem and part-songs of Haydn.
 
November 23, 8 PM, Clapp Recital Hall  UI Collegium Musicum, directed by
Elizabeth Aubrey performs a program of early music by/for/about women,
including music of Hildegard of Bingen and Barbara Strozzi.
 
November 24, 7 PM, Trinity Episcopal Church  UI Collegium Musicum
repeats their performance of November 23, presented by Music at Trinity.
 
December 12-15, various times, IMU Lounge  Annual Madrigal Dinners.
 
December 22, 3:30 PM, Trinity Episcopal Church  Music at Trinity
presents "Christmas Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols", performed by
The Trinity Choir directed by Robert Triplett.
 
 
For updated information on University of Iowa School of Music events,
call the automated information service: 335-3168.