The Page-Turning Device
A second-hand one would do...
Dear Sirs, Could you please obtain for me, or inform me where I might obtain a mechanical device for fitting to a piano music stand which automatically turns over a page of music at the press of a button or trigger, as these devices seem to have been made several years ago and may now be off the market. A second-hand one would do.
J. Gadlight, Barnsley.
Dear Sir, Thank you for yours of the 8th June.
To our regret, we are unable to be of much assistance to you in the matter of the page–turning device. Your remarks would seem to indicate your familiarity only with the button or trigger operated models, neither of which was ever really satisfactory. Even though only a split second was lost in operating the button or trigger, it was sometimes just long enough to affect the rhythm of the piece being played.
Necessity being the mother of invention, and may we say, in many instances the unmarried mother, it was not long before there appeared on the market a device known as the Lipschitz “Astern” Page–Turner which seemed to be the answer to this long–felt want of the concert pianist. This ingenious contraption consisted of two delicately adjusted springs concealed in the upholstered seat of the piano stool and sited near the right and left sides thereof.
By transferring one’s weight from the right buttock to the left (or vice versa), the spring would operate a Bowden cable which in turn caused a metal ‘flicker’ to flick over the pages of music.
On its introduction, the L.A.P.T. seemed to have solved the age–old problem of the pianist, his or her hands being left entirely free whilst the pages were virtually turned by the posterior.
However, it was found that, on playing a prestissimo passage, the frequent oscillation of the buttocks occasionally caused some slight discomfort (itching) to the player who would then involuntarily shift his or her position on the stool, thus turning the page prematurely.
A serious climax was reached when Mme. Grosso Tucharso, the Neapolitan virtuoso, seated on a stool fitted with the Lipschitz Astern Page–Turner, was playing Rossini’s William Tell Overture.
The discomfort caused by her rapid actuation (bummipulation) of the L.A.P.T. led to an involuntary gaseous emission, which on account of the sensitivity of the springs, turned the page over. The unfortunate lady found herself projected from molto presto to largo in an embarrassingly abrupt fashion.
What with such mishaps and the prohibitive price, which even in those pre–war days was £25.10.0. to amateurs and £25.7.6 to professionals, the Lipschitz Astern Page–Turner could hardly be deemed a pronounced success.
Players found it to be more economical to co–opt the manual services of some willing member of the audience who could read music and who had always wanted to be “something on the stage.” Maybe, Sir, you should do the same.
Yours truly, Absolem O’Rourke, Director,
Reinsnagen, Mullarchi & Co., Ltd.