Accompanying events

Training: Intonation of Historical Piano

Let’s talk about these instruments, Viennese and French, and what they require. There are three types of mechanism we will be examining – Erard double escapement, English and Viennese single escapement. These types have their rules, and we can list each one in the sequence of work for concert preparation. My voicing and tuning methods will be demonstrated, also technical aspects of fortepiano care – Keys need attention, and in so doing, removing the keyboard demands caution.  Extreme dryness does more than crack the soundboard, and there are details to be examined to resuscitate a poorly kept instrument. 

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.

The training is paid extra. The participation is only possible once a website application is completed and a 100 EUR/500 PLN advance is settled. The training will be held in English along with an interpretation to Polish. Sign up: tickets.pianocongress.org

Event partner

Training: 2 September (Friday), 10 AM to 1 PM, The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Film screening “The soul of a piano”

The Piano Congress will feature the documentary film “The soul of a piano” directed by Judyta Fibiger.

Does a piano have a soul? If so, what is it? Is it elusive – or maybe its creator is a piano constructor? One of them was Gustaw Arnold Fibiger, born in Kalisz in 1912. His passion for creating instruments survived even when his family factory was taken away after the war.
Who was he? A Pole with German roots who fought to defend Warsaw, a great patriot, but also the only piano constructor in Poland who led to the development of the music industry in our country.
“The Soul of a Piano” is the story of the Arnold Fibiger Piano Factory, founded in 1889 in Kalisz – the largest Polish piano factory. The documentary will feature unique archival materials showing the nationalized factory, whose name was illegally changed to “Calisia” after the war by the communist authorities.

Kalisz is also particularly close to academy award winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, which is why he agreed to appear in the film.
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek: It was great that Gustaw Fibiger, even though the factory was no longer his property, was able to enter this world, no longer run by himself, and serve the idea of the perfect piano or grand piano. This was extraordinary. Only people with great hearts, great spirits, can serve an idea with such devotion. This idea was so deeply planted in him that he served it. I am not surprised that a man of great passion will continue to do so, despite the fact that circumstances have changed, because there is still hope and persistence in him to help this idea, to make these pianos better and better, to make them reflect this ideal world that can be conjured up from them somewhere. For me, this is a manifestation of Gustaw Fibiger’s extraordinary personality.

Judyta Fibiger – born in 1975 in Warsaw. Director and producer of documentary films. Executive producer of the film “Beats of freedom” (2010). Director: “Political Dress” (2011), “Tomasz Ossoliński. Before The Show” (2014), “My Big Biba” (2022). Author of the books “The World According to Smirnoff”, “You Don’t Know what’s yours – Poland through the Eyes of Foreigners and “Barbara Hulanicki. Only tomorrow counts”.

Film screening: 3 September (Saturday), 6.15 pm, Universe 1

Viola Organista concert

A unique concert on a string piano, which was constructed by Slawomir Zubrzycki after 500 years according to a design by Leonardo da Vinci.

In 2009 Zubrzycki came across the traces of a real rarity – the keyboard-bowed instrument designed by Leonardo da Vinci, but which had almost been unknown and forgotten. Fascinated by the facts from the past, in the years 2009 – 2012 Zubrzycki created his own version of Leonardo da Vinci’s design and brought to life an instrument with a unique sound and ready to concert.

The premiere recitals of viola organista (on 18 October 2013 in Cracow, during the International Royal Cracow Piano Festival, and on 21 October at Conrad Festival) were a spectacular artistic success and received a lot of publicity in the media. The video report from the viola’s first concert has been watched by more than 3 million people on YouTube. The news about the construction of viola organista was presented by the most popular media all over the world, including BBC, The Telegraph, France 24, Deutsche Radio Kultur, Corriere della Sera, MSN, Oman Daily Observer, Hindustan Times, Taipei Times.

His European tours in 2014-2020 (over 90 recitals in 19 countries) included recitals at Stockholm Early Music Festival, Mänttä Music Festival, Wratislavia Cantans, Ghent Festival of Flanders, Kotor Art Festival, Polish Music Days in Turkey, Ohrid Summer Festival, Milano Classica, Gaudete! Festival Internazionale di Musica Antica in Vercelli, Bucharest Early Music Festival, Summer Festival of Early Music in Prague, Kristupo Festivaliai in Vilnius, Copernicus Festival and  Polish Music Festival in Cracow, European Renaissance Music Festival  Clos Luce in  Amboise,  Les Nuits de Septembre in Liege, Days of Early Music in Bratislava, Kromer Biecz Festival, Recital at da Vinci exhibition at Kalmar Castle, Sweden, Musikfestspiele Saar, Germany, Festival van Vlaanderen Kempen, MIM, Bozar, Belgium, festivals in Treviso, Valvasone, Abbiategrasso, Vigevano, Pavia – Italy, Flautus Festival Sion – Switzerland, Stavanger Konzerhaus – Norway, Budapest, Székesfehérvár, Veszprém – Hungary, Bratyslava – Slovakia, Zagreb – Croatia, concerts Leonardo 500; w Metz, Reims – Francja, Geneva University – Switzerland.

In 2015 two albums of viola organista were released. Solo album, “Viola organista – The da Vinci sound” is unique in many ways: it is not only the first-ever recording of “da Vinci’s instrument” recital, but also the first Polish music project funded by music lovers from all over the world by a global crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter. The album contains eight Baroque works (including the only work composed for the keyboard-bow instrument, Sonata for Bogenklavier by C. Ph. E. Bach) and, as a bonus, the music by the Leonardo da Vinci – who placed his music work on the painting “Portrait of a musician”.

To the second production Zubrzycki was invited by Icelandic singer Bjork, who released an acoustic version of her latest album “Vulnicura”, for voice, viola organista and string quartet.

Sławomir Zubrzycki – pianist, claviolinist, composer, and constructor of musical instruments, born and living in Cracow.
In 1988 Sławomir Zubrzycki graduated from the Academy of Music in Cracow, where he studied piano in Professor Tadeusz Żmudziński’s class, and modern music in Professor Adam Kaczyński’s class. Having received a grant from The Fulbright Program, he continued to study piano at The Boston Conservatory of Music under the supervision of Janice Weber in 1990-91. The pianist also developed his artistic skills by participating in master classes taught by: Victor Merzhanov, Michael Lewin, Jerome Lowenthal, Włodzimierz Obidowicz, Johann Sonnleitner (harpsichord).

In 1987, he won a Prize at the Polish Piano Art Festival in Słupsk. Sławomir Zubrzycki has been giving concerts both as a soloist – performing with Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cracow Philharmonic Orchestra, Capella Cracoviensis, Toruń Chamber Orchestra, Imperial College London Sinfonietta – and as a chamber musician with Olga Szwajgier’s Quartet (as one of its members), Gwendolyn Bradley, Jadwiga Gadulanka, Andrzej Hiolski, in Poland, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Ukraine and USA. He has made several recordings for Polskie Nagrania (Polish recording company), Polish Radio and Television. As a presenter, composer and musical director he has collaborated with Polish Televison on production of educational programs, such as Wszystko gra (It’s All Music To My Ears – a series of lectures on musical instruments for TVP 1 and TVP Polonia) and Sesame Street (Polish version for TVP 2). He has taken part in several festivals, including: Poznań Spring of Music, Music in Old Cracow, Audio-Art in Cracow, Fest der Kontinente in Berlin, Visiting Artist Series in Berklee College of Music in Boston, The Colours of Poland, Warsaw Cross Culture Festival, Turning Sounds in Cologne and Warsaw, Edinburgh Theatre Festival. He specializes in performing contemporary music, ranging from dodecaphony to instrumental theatre, improvisation and performance art. He was a lecturer at Summer Academy of Contemporary Music – Avantgarde Tirol in Austria (2005, 2007). He teaches his own piano class at the Frederic Chopin State Secondary Music School in Cracow.

Currently, Zubrzycki’s artistic activity focuses on viola organista. The Artist’s concert plans for next months include several concerts during European early music and classical music festivals.

Concert: 4 September, 6.15 pm, Universe conference room
Lecture on Viola Organista: 4 September, 7.00 pm, Universe conference room

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