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Fred Sand Celesta

by Rhythm Scene Staff | Apr 25, 2022

Fred Sand Celesta

Donated by Emil Richards – 1993.2.14

The Celesta, patented by Auguste Mustel in 1886, is a metallophone built similar to a small, upright piano. The bars, each mounted with a tuned resonator tube or box, are struck by felt hammers operated by a simple keyboard mechanism. Each bar has an individual damper operated by the key, and a sustain pedal is used to allow all notes to ring when so desired. The tone, described as heavenly, angelic, or “celestial,” is a clear, bell-like ring with varying amounts of sustain depending on the size of the bars and quality of the instrument. Also spelled as “celeste,” the instrument is best known for its prominent use by Tchaikovsky in the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from his ballet The Nutcracker, which premiered in 1892.

This celesta, manufactured by the F. Sand & Co. in New York, features a clear-varnished rosewood cabinet with ivory and ebony keys. When the lid is open, it measures 39 inches wide by 25 inches deep, and is 49 inches in height. The keyboard measures 26.5 inches wide by 6 inches in depth. The cabinet sits on four casters with a handle on each side and has a keyed lock for the keyboard lid. A single brass pedal is used to sustain the entire keyboard, and the maker’s hand-painted insignia of “Sand, Celesta” is centered above the keyboard in gold-leaf. This instrument has the standard 4-octave range, C3–C7, and transposes one-octave up from the written pitch, sounding the range of the top half of a piano. 

Though little is known about the Fred Sand Company, this instrument appears to be manufactured ca. 1950.

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Fred Sand Celesta

Apr 25, 2022, 09:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

Fred Sand Celesta

Donated by Emil Richards – 1993.2.14

The Celesta, patented by Auguste Mustel in 1886, is a metallophone built similar to a small, upright piano. The bars, each mounted with a tuned resonator tube or box, are struck by felt hammers operated by a simple keyboard mechanism. Each bar has an individual damper operated by the key, and a sustain pedal is used to allow all notes to ring when so desired. The tone, described as heavenly, angelic, or “celestial,” is a clear, bell-like ring with varying amounts of sustain depending on the size of the bars and quality of the instrument. Also spelled as “celeste,” the instrument is best known for its prominent use by Tchaikovsky in the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from his ballet The Nutcracker, which premiered in 1892.

This celesta, manufactured by the F. Sand & Co. in New York, features a clear-varnished rosewood cabinet with ivory and ebony keys. When the lid is open, it measures 39 inches wide by 25 inches deep, and is 49 inches in height. The keyboard measures 26.5 inches wide by 6 inches in depth. The cabinet sits on four casters with a handle on each side and has a keyed lock for the keyboard lid. A single brass pedal is used to sustain the entire keyboard, and the maker’s hand-painted insignia of “Sand, Celesta” is centered above the keyboard in gold-leaf. This instrument has the standard 4-octave range, C3–C7, and transposes one-octave up from the written pitch, sounding the range of the top half of a piano. 

Though little is known about the Fred Sand Company, this instrument appears to be manufactured ca. 1950.

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