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Tags: Poland | Chopin's Last Piano

Chopin's Last Piano Gets Its 19th-century Features Back

Thursday, 09 December 2021 11:00 AM EST

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The last piano on which Frederic Chopin played and composed in Paris is being renovated by a U.S. expert who is giving it back its original mid-19th century characteristics.

Paul McNulty is spending days at the Chopin museum in Warsaw filling in some cracks in the soundboard and putting in wire strings like the ones used by Paris piano manufacturer Camille Pleyel — Chopin's favorite — in 1848.

“We’re very, very close to the character and the identity of this instrument when we put the correct strings on, everything else being in very good condition,” McNulty told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Pleyel made the instrument, with serial number 14810, available to the Chopin, already seriously ailing at the time, in the fall of 1848. After Chopin's death in October 1849, the piano was bought by his Scottish student and friend, Jane Stirling, who then offered it to Chopin's eldest sister, Ludwika Jedrzejewiczowa. The piano arrived in Warsaw in 1850, where it survived two world wars.

Given the provenance and the good condition of the instrument, McNulty said it is “priceless.”

Texas-born McNulty says this is the best preserved Pleyel piano in the world, despite having quite a dramatic history. It was treated well by Chopin's family and was not used for concert performances.

But it had most of its strings changed for modern ones during renovation in the late 1950s that destroyed its tone and put strain on the whole structure.

McNulty and museum authorities believe the current work will bring it as close as possible to the sound that Chopin heard.

“We hope it will sing for us again,” said Aleksander Laskowski, spokesman for The Frederic Chopin Institute that houses the museum.

“So an opportunity to hear the sound of Chopin’s piano as he heard it when he composed is quite likely,” Laskowski said.

Chopin, Poland’s best known and beloved classical music composer and pianist, was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father. He left Poland at 19 to broaden his musical education in Vienna and then in Paris, where he settled, composing, giving concerts and teaching the piano.

He died on Oct. 17, 1849, in Paris and is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. His heart is at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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The last piano on which Frederic Chopin played and composed in Paris is being renovated by a U.S. expert who is giving it back its original mid-19th century characteristics. Paul McNulty is spending days at the Chopin museum in Warsaw filling in some cracks in the...
Poland,Chopin's Last Piano
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2021-00-09
Thursday, 09 December 2021 11:00 AM
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