In 1976 I was able to visit the UK for the first time since leaving
in 1948 at age nine. I determined that I would visit collectors in
Britain and the USA, learn what I could and, if at all possible,
acquire a Violano. I had joined MBSI and during my few days in London
I visited Arthur Ord-Hume, the late Bruce Angrave, David Tallis and
I telephoned the British Piano Museum (as it was then known) on
Sunday morning and made myself known. I was given specific directions
for travel by tube and bus from my bed and breakfast in Russell Square
to the Museum. On arrival I paid at the door and recognised Frank
Holland who was guiding a tour group around the exhibits. It had
been he I had spoken with by phone.) Seeing me he called, "Hello Sir,
have you come from New Zealand?"
I replied, "Yes, that's why I'm late!" The group laughed and Frank
and I had established a rapport.
Among the wonders on display was a single Violano (I fancy still
playing "Little Girl") and another. This was a sad hulk, leaning
against the wall. The bottom of the case had rotted away, as had about
a foot at the base of one side. The bottom doors were missing as were
most of the upper glass panels. There was no violin or fingering
mechanism, no feeder governor or motor, and most other removable parts
had been cannibalised for restoration of the Museum's other Violanos.
Acting on a rash impulse I determined to buy this machine.
Written on the back of the machine (I fancy in Frank's handwriting)
were the words, "Keep For Spares." Those words are still there.
Now, thirty years later, thanks to the help of many fine folks, the
Violano has been restored to as-new condition. The above is an extract
from a piece called "Save For Spares" written by me for the Musical
Museum. For a time the full item was available on their web site.
Just adding my tribute to dear old Frank to those of Dave Bowers and
Marc Sachnoff. I've also sent a picture redolent of the 1970s showing
Frank, Bonnie Tekstra (Manager of the American International Galleries)
and me. I hope the Lazarus-like resurrection of this machine complies
with Frank's motto: "To Restore -- Not Destroy."