I recently read an intriguing line in Eve LaPlante’s book, Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother regarding the keyboard that Lizzie Alcott used to play. It reads: In 1847, “Abigail, who had acquired a keyboard instrument called a seraphine, gave the children regular music lessons, as her mother had done for Abigail and her sisters.” (pg. 171 ebook Marmee & Louisa, footnote pg. 124 Cynthia Barton, Transcendental Wife.
I thought it was a melodeon. This is what the tour guides at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House called it.
I even showed pictures of the two instruments to a musical historian I ran into at the Barrow bookstore in Concord and he couldn’t really tell the difference! Apparently the outer design was interchangeable according to the pictures I found in the book at the store.
So here is a picture of Lizzie’s seraphine or melodeon from Orchard House (this is an older picture):
What do you think? I’d especially love to hear from tour guides at Orchard House.
Ever wondered what such an instrument sounded like? Close your eyes and imagine it’s Lizzie playing …
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