Metronomes beat their way to Symphony Hall

We’ve been searching for metronomes and their owners to take part in a special performance of Ligeti’s Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes – a rarely performed work, which will be taking place in Symphony Hall’s Café Bar on Tuesday 5 March – and are pleased to say that we are now well over half-way to getting the 100 metronomes we need.

As well as donations for the performance, we have been asking for people to share the stories behind their metronomes and send in pictures – and we haven’t been disappointed! A gallery of some of the metronomes donated so far can be seen above – including a photo of ‘Gerald’, a ‘nome well prepared for the current snowy conditions with a fetching knitted hat – and some of the stories are below…

We have a mechanical one made by Maelzel Paquet. It was given as a 21st birthday present in 1951 to my mother.

I inherited my metronome from my Grandad. He had saved up coupons in the period after the second world war to buy his first clarinet (which I still own to this day), and at the same time, he saved up his pocket money and bought the metronome too!

Please see attached pics of my two nomes. They both belonged to my father who was a keen musician and restorer of early keyboard instruments – mainly square pianos. The two metronomes are a Paquet and a Maelzel .

If it’s useful to know, it’s a Wittner (made in West Germany). It goes ‘click’, but not ‘ding’.

He is a Wittner Maelzel Pyramid with a wooden case and with a bell mechanism which, of course, does not have to sound. He is well into his 60’s or possibly older but still in good working order with a strong “tick and tock”.

My metronome is at least 80 years old. It was won by my Great Uncle, Joseph Tipping, in a cycle race in the 1930’s. He was a professional musician and a keen cyclist who raced on track and road. I have been its joint owner since 1970 when my Great Aunt gave it to me and my brother as we started to learn musical instruments. My brother had my Uncle’s flute and I had his clarinet when we were children. My Uncle had been struck down with Polio in his prime and so had his musical and sporting career cut tragically short.

I used the family metronome constantly as I headed towards achieving my Grade VIII’s – on piano and clarinet – and my daughters use it today as they learn piano, flute and clarinet!! We should call it ‘old faithful’!


Also among the donations are 30 metronomes kindly lent to us by local music shop Hobgoblin.

The performance of Poème symphonique is part of our free Beyond Classical series in association with Birmingham Conservatoire, and one of the events in the mini-series Reich:Influences which explores Steve Reich’s profound impact on contemporary music and the composers who have influenced him.

To find out more about the THSH metronome appeal, or register to take part in the performance, visit