Chopin`s Pianinos and the Discovery of Their Secrets
On May 3, 2014, after the end of the Szymanowska Conference in Paris, I took a trip outside of Paris to the workshop of harpsichord maker and collector of Pleyel pianos, Oliver Fadini. I went with the renowned Chopin specialist, Prof. Halina Goldberg of Indiana University. Our tour was arranged by Fadini's friend, music journalist at Radio France, Gilles Bencimon, a fervent lover of Chopin's music and the sound of historical pianos and pianinos...
One hundred and seventy-seven years ago, on March 31, 1837, an unusual concert took place in Paris, pitting the pianistic skills of the two leading virtuosos of the time, Franz Liszt and Sigismond Thalberg. The contest was adjudged a draw.
Frédéric François Chopin (/ˈʃoʊpæn/; French pronunciation: [fʁe.de.ʁik ʃɔ.pɛ̃]; Polish: Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, also phonetically Szopen; 22 February or 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of French-Polish parentage. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music.
Chopin's Iconic Piano: A Historic Family Feud in Majorca
This post is in partnership with Worldcrunch, a new global-news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. The article below was originally published in Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The news from the courthouse in Palma comes as a tough blow for Frédéric Chopin fans who paid good money to see what was supposed to be the piano and living space used by the legendary composer during his late-in-life sojourn on the Spanish island of Majorca.
For a century, the Ferrá-Capllonch family, which owns Cell No. 2 in the former Carthusian monastery in Valldemossa, lured tourists to where they claimed Chopin had lived with his mistress, George Sand, and her children. The site also features the piano on which he supposedly completed his 24 Preludes, Op. 28.
As it turns out, they were wrong — about both the living quarters and the famous piano. Based on extensive research, the jurists were able to show conclusively that the instrument in Cell No. 2 was built after Chopin's 1849 death, and that the composer had in fact occupied another cell — one that's owned by a family with the surname Quetglas.
The court awarded the Quetglas family exclusive marketing rights, cutting the Ferrá-Capllonch family completely out of the Chopin legacy. What's more, the Ferrá-Capllonch family must now publicly announce that their piano is not the real thing. The piano had attracted approximately 300,000 tourists per year to Valldemossa, where visitors paid for tickets based on the idea they were buying a bit of proximity to the life and work of a man who is one of music's all-time greats. (See the 50 best websites of 2011.)
Chopin arrived in Majorca on Nov. 15, 1838, accompanied by his mistress, the French writer Amantine Dupin, or Baroness Dudevant (1804-76), who used the pseudonym George Sand. At the time, Majorca was considered a remote location. Valldemossa was even more off the beaten path — a dark village in the picturesque Tramontane mountain range, an ideal place for a celebrated musician to get well away from it all. Sand wrote a book about the sojourn, Winter in Majorca, which was to become as much a part of her legend as it is of Chopin's....
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