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