koordynator

History of the piano

The scheduled lecture focuses on the origin of a new instrument which has earned a name of grand piano throughout centuries, the development of its construction and the connection to keyboard’s music evolution. The lecture will also include the expose on the instrument’s position in music culture in its relatively short life (approx. 320 years). The main part of the lecture explains the use of the most essential inventions implemented in this instrument in its constructional evolution. Some elements of terminology associated with antique, historical and modern instruments will also be included yet this section is dependent on the time available.

Benjamin Vogel – Professor Emeritus of the University of Szczecin (Chair of Artistic Education) and Associate Professor at the Institute of Musicology, Lund University, Sweden. Specialises in instrumentology. A graduate in musicology at the University of Warsaw (1973), where he received his PhD in 1977 (Musical instruments in the culture of the Polish Kingdom 1815-1914, Kraków 1980) and habilitated in 1988 (The Polish piano. The construction of pianos on Polish territory from the mid 18th century to World War II, Warsaw 1995), and where he was employed until 1994. He is also the author of Dictionary of violin makers active on historical and current Polish lands and of Polish violin makers active abroad until 1950 (Szczecin 2007; 2nd ed. Bydgoszcz 2019) and of catalogues: The Andrzej Szwalbe Collection of Historical Pianos in Ostromecko (Bydgoszcz 2016) and The Collection of Historical Pianos of the Museum of Industrial History in Opatówek (Opatówek 2020); articles in professional journals in Poland (“Ruch Muzyczny”, “Muzyka”, “Rocznik Chopinowski”) and abroad (“Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society”, “The Galpin Society Journal”, “Svensk Tidskrift för Musikforskning”), dictionary and encyclopaedic entries (Encyklopedia muzyki, PWN; Encyklopedia muzyczna PWM; Polski Słownik Biograficzny; Encyklopedia Gdańska; Encyklopedia Szczecina; Encyclopedia of Keyboard Instruments, New York 1994; Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. 2, Bärenreiter 1999-2007; The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 2nd ed., Oxford 2014). Co-author of the National Institute of Music and Dance web portals Polish Folk Musical Instruments (2014), Piano in Polish Collections (2015) and Violin in Polish Collections (2016). Member of the Polish Composers’ Union, the Union of Polish Violin Makers, the American Musical Instrument Society and Svenska samfundet för musikforskning, as well as member of the Programme Council of the Fryderyk Chopin National Institute (2007-2011) and honorary member of the Association of Polish Piano Tuners.

Event partner

Lecture: 3 September (Saturday), 9.00 am, Universe 1

Main problems and challenges in the reconstruction of pianos from Chopin’s era

This will require a description of the nature of Chopin’s instruments and the situation of piano manufactory between 1820 and 1850 as a preamble. In the main part I will talk about the typical demages, methods of restoration and the importance of the proper material.

In 1993 the pianist and further master craftsman of pianobuilding Gert Hecher founded a workshop in order to restore historic pianos, which since 2000 is called Klavieratelier. This institution is specialized on historical and early modern pianos. Since this time he and his team have restored and traded pianofortes from ca. 1780 to the second world war. He is especially focussed on grands with Viennese mechanic, but also on french pianos.
The pianos of the Klavieratelier are often used in concerts, e. g. in the famous Golden Hall of the Viennese Musikverein, in the Viennese Konzerthaus or in important festivals and also for recording productions, played by importand and famous players. Gert Hecher himself still appears as pianist from time to time.

Event partner

Lecture: 3 September (Saturday), 11.30 am, Universe 1

Presentation of the system for disabled (paralyzed) pianists

Several years ago I developed this system for people who cannot use their right pedal when playing the piano. This may be because of physical limitations such as a paralysed leg, a spinal cord injury or ALS. The system is built into their own instrument and adapted to their specific needs and abilities. The system consists of a solenoid (electromagnet), a control unit for setting the correct forces and sizes depending on the type and brand of the instrument, a 24 volt DC power supply, and a cable set. The aim is to enable the player to use the dampers with another part of the body than the right foot. How this is done varies. The dampers can be used for example by with the knee.
Squeezing a small ball with the mouth. That is, the lips squeeze a small, flexible plastic ball (pipette balloon of 10 mm). Then, through a tube, a pressure-sensitive switch is activated (0.006 amperes, 0.1 volts) which controls the system.
A tipping switch in a headband.
The photo shows a solenoid built into an upright piano. If this electromagnet is activated, the core moves upwards and the pedal rod is pressed upward, just as a regular pedal would do. Because instruments are constructed differently, the methods of fixing varies also. With grand pianos, for instance, the solenoid presses against a lever which is located on the underside of the grand piano.
In all cases, the dampers can still be controlled with the foot.
The system can be built into all kind of upright pianos and grand pianos.

Michiel van Loon was born in 1947 in The Hague. After 17 years in various positions at construction companies, he temporarily stopped working in 1982 to take care of his 3 children. His wife then provided the income. During that time he was busy with the restoration of a few player pianos and he studied piano technique. He has been a certified piano technician since 1991. In 2002 he was asked to help a disabled pianist to use the damper pedal again. With the help of various people, he has developed a system through which the damping can be operated with parts of the body other than the foot. Initially with parts from PianoDisc from the United States, later with parts from Laukhuff from Germany, among others. 12 pianists with disabilities in the Netherlands, 2 in the US and 1 in Italy can now operate the dampers with a small movement of the knee or by squeezing a pipette balloon with their lips. The system can be built into almost any upright piano or grand piano. There is also a stand-alone demonstration version that can be placed under a grand piano or in front of an upright piano.

Event organised by the Association of Polish Piano Tuners

Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 3.30 pm, Room Pine

Sketches from the history of the Polish piano industry of the 20th century

The talk will be about Polish piano and upright piano manufacturers after the Second World War, but also about some factories from an earlier period. How the Polish piano industry was organised in the inter-war period, how the music industry was reborn after 1945, how the taken-over post-German property in the Recovered Territories was managed, how the production of new pianos and grand pianos was started, how I have arranged a chronology of Legnica and Calisia pianos and Defil mechanisms.

Janusz Starzyk is been professionally involved in piano tuning and repairing since 1985. He received his master’s diploma in 2002. Currently he takes care of instruments in several music schools in the Lubelskie and Podkarpackie Voivodeship (e.g. in Zamość, Krosno, Szczebrzeszyn, Tomaszów Lubelski, Rymanów). I also cooperate with cultural institutions in the region. I am interested in the history of pianos and grand pianos.

Event organised by the Association of Polish Piano Tuners

Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 5.15 pm, Room Pine

The specificity of Camille. Pleyel pianos in F. Chopin’s period in Paris

Description: 
– Introduction: Intimate relationship between the Pleyel pianos and Chopin
– Main content  

1. The characteristics of the sound with references to historical sources
– Evidence from Chopin’s letters
– Commentaries by musicians and critics of the time 

2. What factors contribute to the creation of such sound
– An evolution from the pianino (the first ones were produced at the same year of Ignace Pleyel’s death) to grand piano 
– Research on the Pleyel pianos that have kept the original material and structure (e.g. 3 pianos of 1844: Rossini’s Pleyel in Bologna, Italy etc.)
– the mechanics
– the felt (the material used, the density and size) with demonstration

3. Historical context of music making at the time
– performances mainly took place in salons for a relatively small audience (still very much influenced by the tradition from the 18th century)
– the design of the Pleyel pianos was ideal for such settings
– Chopin always prefers to play in salons for a small circle of friends (eg. Eugene Delacroix etc.)

Amerigo Olivier Fadini: Harpsichord maker, and pianoforte restorer who specializes in instruments from the romantic period. He has conducted a wide range of researches, particularly on the pianos manufactured by Pleyel & Cie under Camille Pleyel.
In 2007, he made a first study of F Chopin’s Pleyel pianino in Majorca. This led him to advance his research with a focus on hammer felt made by Pleyel.
In 2010, he restored an important Neapolitan harpsichord from the 18th century, as well as numerous Pleyel pianofortes, including the one that had belonged to Caroline Bonaparte. Instruments restored by him had been used for making several recordings and videos: Un hiver à Majorque: Préludes, Nocturnes, Mazurkas by Chopin performed by Aya Okuyama on a Pleyel Pianino from 1838; Chopin: Œuvres pour violoncelle & piano performed by Ophélie Gaillard and Edna Stern using a Pleyel piano from 1843; other recordings were made by renowned artists including Tobias Koch, François Verry, Davide Perniceni, Alain Planès, Ludovic Van Hellemont and most recently, Yves Henry (Chopin à Nohant – La Chambre Enchantée ed. Soupir 2022 performed on a Pleyel piano from 1839).
In 2015, he was invited to Kraków by the Jagiellonian University to study two important Pleyel pianos: one owned by Jane Stirling, the other owned by Countess K. Potocka. He restored the Pleyel pianino No.10112 which was once belonged to Countess Obreskoff, a close friend of Chopin. The restored pianino was first used in a public recital performed by Alexei Lubimov on 10 th August 2018 in Warsaw organized by the Chopin Institute. The recital was to present the 1 st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments, which was held in September that year.
In 2019, he also restored a Pleyel piano from 1851 for the Frédéric Chopin and George Sand Museum in Valldemossa, Spain. His research into the precious Pleyel Pianino No. 6668, which Chopin used in the winter of 1838/39 to finish composing his Preludes, was published in Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger’s book Autour des 24 Préludes de Frédéric Chopin.
Currently, he is restoring a Pleyel piano from 1844 for the Nohant Festival Chopin in France.

Event partner

Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 2.45 pm, Room Universe 1

Fixing the basic problems of Viennese pianos

We will compare different Viennese actions, and discover their basic requirements. The discussion will be about safety in removing the action, a demonstration of common regulation and repair procedures.
Please note that any time during congress technicians might make appointments for individual consultation at McNulty fortepianos stand, where Paul McNulty and his assistant Sergei Kramer will explain practicality of romantic and classical time fortepiano regulation and tuning. ask their questions and get individual answers and try things.

Paul McNulty is a maker of world-famous fortepianos known for their best performance quality. He became interested in instrument building after studying music at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and graduated in piano technology from North Bennet Street Industrial School in Boston, where he earned guild qualification as a tuning examiner.

Paul McNulty made more than 300 fortepianos. His copies of Silbermann, Stein, Walter, Hofmann, Fritz and Graf are used for concerts and recordings in most prestigious concert halls and opera houses, owned by prominent players and leading music institutions, such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paul Badura-Skoda, Malcolm Bilson, Ronald Brautigam, Warsaw Chopin Institute, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Paris Opera and Glyndebourne Festival as well as Cornell, Oberlin, Stanford, Harvard, etc. 

Paul McNulty was first in modern times to build Pleyel 1830, Boisselot 1846, Streicher 1868 and Chopin’s Warsaw piano, 1826 Buchholtz. Paul McNulty’s current efforts are restoring antique French pianos for the Warsaw Chopin Institute.

Event partner

Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 5.15 pm, Room 1

How to design a new upright piano

Development never stops. Is there anything we can improve?

Tadeáš Doskočil was born in 1990 in Hradec Králové. After his unsuccessful studies in grammar school, he found his feet in the Secondary Arts School of musical instruments and furniture. He graduated as a piano technician in 2011. After graduation, he decided to expand his knowledge at Mendel University in Brno, where he finished the Wood processing technology and management study program. During his master’s studies, he worked in PETROF as a junior Technologist and got a few internships in different piano workshops. After his master’s studies, he decided to improve his language skills in the United Kingdom. When he returned from the UK, he worked for the PETROF piano company in the Department of Research and Development. Since he started his career there, he took part in all of the new pianos produced in PETROF, and he is slowly learning to be a piano designer.​

Event partner

Lecture: 4 September (Sunday), 10.45 am, room Universe 1

The process of building of the copy of Buchholtz piano (presentation and film)

In this presentation, building a new Buchholtz, we will show film documentation of this project, analyse the features of Buchholtz construction and discuss the workshop requirements for this type of work.

Paul McNulty is a maker of world-famous fortepianos known for their best performance quality. He became interested in instrument building after studying music at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and graduated in piano technology from North Bennet Street Industrial School in Boston, where he earned guild qualification as a tuning examiner.

Paul McNulty made more than 300 fortepianos. His copies of Silbermann, Stein, Walter, Hofmann, Fritz and Graf are used for concerts and recordings in most prestigious concert halls and opera houses, owned by prominent players and leading music institutions, such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paul Badura-Skoda, Malcolm Bilson, Ronald Brautigam, Warsaw Chopin Institute, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Paris Opera and Glyndebourne Festival as well as Cornell, Oberlin, Stanford, Harvard, etc. 

Paul McNulty was first in modern times to build Pleyel 1830, Boisselot 1846, Streicher 1868 and Chopin’s Warsaw piano, 1826 Buchholtz. Paul McNulty’s current efforts are restoring antique French pianos for the Warsaw Chopin Institute.

Event partner

Lecture: 4 September (Sunday), 9.00 am, Room Universe 1

Broadwood 1846 – reconstruction of the piano

The analysis of the aspects associated with the reconstruction of the instrument above will include:
– The acoustic part
– The case part
– The keyboard mechanis
The discussion will cover the state prior to the changes, the process of alteration and the final outcome of the reconstruction.

Andrzej Włodarczyk – born in 1972 in Warsaw. A graduate of Technical School of Grand Piano Construction in Kalisz (class of 1994) and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. He has been running his business “Piano and Grand Piano Workshop Andrzej Wlodarczyk” which specializes in renovations, tunings, expertise, and historical and modern instrument refurbishments. He has completed his internships at Steinway & Sons in Hamburg (2007). Between 2000 and 2006 he lectures at Frederic Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw (Tuning procedures and piano’s construction). For many years he has been an instrument tuner at Frederic Chopin’s Music University. One of the pioneers of Polish Piano Tuners Association (2007). He cooperates with with multiple national institutions i.e. Frederic Chopin National Institute, University of Warsaw, National Philharmonic, The Royal Castle, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, Grazyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Music Academy in Łódź, Andrzej Szwalby Collection of Antique Pianos in Ostromeck, The Palace of Chrzesne, Regional Museum of Krosno, American School in Warsaw, Polish Military, Museum of Gdańsk. He conducted the International Frederic Chopin Festival in Duszniki-Zdroj, International Music Festival – Chopin And His Europe, Ad Libitum Festival, International Modern Music Festival “Warsaw Autumn”, Chopin Concerts at Royal Lazienki Park, Floralia Powsin. An initiator of the “The Magic of Antique Pianos in Radzymin” cycle. Piano constructor (two constructed copies of Vienna piano by A. Walter accordingly to a 1795 design and a copy of Krall & Seldler piano inspired by a 1830 design). An owner of the largest Polish private collection of historical pianos currently used for concerts and recordings.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 3.30 pm, Room Universe 1

Historical features of piano touch and sound should be included in modern piano construction – a plea for a reinvantion of lost registers and sounds

Six pedals were available to pianists from Beethoven to Chopin – some (e.g. Beethoven) switched between different pianos because of different key depths . . . the goal of piano design should be to allow performers the maximum expressive possibilities in artistic interpretation. Do we piano builders in the 21st century really contribute enough to the maximum richness of variations? Or were our colleagues of the 19th century superior to us?

Udo Steingraeber is the 6th generation to head up Bayreuth’s piano manufacturer, Steingraeber & Söhne, where he also learned piano building. He studied law and theatre at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Eduard Steingraeber the founder of the company in Bayreuth was his great-great-great uncle. Between 1980 and 2009, Udo Steingraeber and the Steingraeber design team developed three new concert grands, various chamber and salon grands, and concert pianos. Most were for his own firm, but some, such as the new Pleyel grand piano 280, were commissions from colleagues in the piano industry. Since 1988, Steingraeber & Sons’ innovations have continuously won prizes at every Paris piano test of the top-flight instruments. Some were awarded independently, some jointly with the five, top-quality colleagues that comprise the small group of the world’s A-1 best manufacturers, as they are designated in the US rankings.

Steingraeber & Söhne abides by his credo, “The technical development of the piano is never completed as the musical development goes on as well”. The Steingraeber construction design team has created a whole series of innovative products that complement Steingraeber & Söhne classic pianos, which are built along extremely traditional lines. These innovations include e.g. carbon fibre soundboards, SFM actions for upright pianos, Sordino and Mozart rail for grand pianos, magnet-controlled pedals for wheelchair users and recently the Transducer piano.  

As the longtime Chairman of the Federation of German Piano Technicians (BDK) and Vice President of the EUROPIANO Association, Udo Steingraeber is particularly dedicated to the improvement of education and training for European piano builders. He has also been the guiding force behind the development of the European Piano Technician Degree from 2003 to 2006.  

Historic Steingraeber Haus in Bayreuth, a 1754 Rococo palace, is his favourite pastime. Its strictly historic restoration continues year after year, along with the promotion of modern art, piano museum with a large Franz Liszt exhibition and a cultural program of moren than a hundred events per year, for which the Steingraeber Haus Bayreuth is open to the wider public. For all of these reasons, as well as his patronage and sponsorship of social and cultural institutions, Udo Steingraeber has been awarded two cultural prizes.

In 2023 he plans to pass over the leadership of the company to his children Alban and Fanny Steingraeber.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 2.45 pm, Room Universe 1

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