A special exhibition of historical pianos presented by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw
The piano was at the centre of Fryderyk Chopin’s musical world from the very beginning and it will always remain a centrepiece of his legacy. The genius Polish composer’s works are well-established in the canon: a must in every pianist’s repertoire, they are loved by performers and music lovers around the world. Wouldn’t it be good then to know how did his pieces actually sound when he composed or played them to his friends, wider audiences, or just himself?
For more than a dozen of years, the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw has been collecting historical pianos with a Chopin connection, be they specific instruments and models by particular manufacturers. The pianos are used for concerts and recordings: elite pianists play on them at the Chopin and His Europe annual festival and concerts marking the composer’s birthday. Recordings of the performances are then released under the Institute’s prestigious label (e.g. the Real Chopin series). The majority of the pianos in the collection are original instruments from the mid-19th century. In the absence of a well-preserved period instrument, its best and truest available copy is acquired.
The collection currently includes pianos by the renowned French manufacturers Pleyel and Erard (preferred by Chopin when he lived in France), a British Broadwood, and a copy of a Viennese Graf. In 2018 the collection welcomes the world’s first replica of the Buchholtz piano Chopin owned in Warsaw. Fryderyk (sic!) Buchholtz was a prominent 19th century piano manufacturer and the Chopins decided to acquire one of his models for their son. Unfortunately, none of his pianos have survived to this day in a good playing condition. Yet, after a partially preserved instrument of this manufacturer was discovered in Kremenets, Ukraine, the Institute decided to set out on an extraordinary mission: to revive the piano Chopin had composed and played when he lived in Warsaw. The task was entrusted to Paul McNulty, a Canadian-born and Czech-based piano maker, and expert in 19th-century piano-making techniques. The revived instrument will be first heard in public at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera on 17 March 2018, exactly on the day when Chopin debuted his Piano Concert in F minor on his Buchholtz piano.
The instrument as well as other pianos from the collection: the original Pleyel, Erard and Broadwood as well as the Graf copy will be displayed at the Redutowe Rooms of the Polish National Opera from 18 March to 8 April 2018. Come and discover the magical world of old pianos, experience the sound of instruments made two centuries ago. The opening of the exhibition will see the premiere of Paweł Mykietyn’s piece for all of the displayed ianypianos, commissioned by the Institute especially for the occasion. A recording of the piece will accompany the visitors throughout the duration of the exhibition.