What would Chopin play
If given the choice today:
By Erard, Pleyel,
A Broadwood, Buchholtz, or Graf?
Or would Chopin choose
A Steinway D, or maybe
We’ll never know, but
We can hear his music on
Today’s post was prompted by a livestream of the 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments presented by the Chopin Institute. The institute will hold international competitions using period instruments once every five years. You can read about the pianos here. You can see a recording of the first stage, AM session here and you can see the PM session here. The early stages of the competition will also include pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach. Videos of the entire competition will be made available on the Chopin Institute’s YouTube channel and its Facebook page, and, if you’re on the go, via a free app for iOs and Android.
Watching people play 19th century instruments on a cell phone. Surreal.
Performances from previous years’ competitions (on modern pianos) may also be viewed on the institute’s YouTube channel.
It’s an interesting concept, and I am curious to see how competitors may tailor their performances to the different responsiveness of period instruments. Will they coax from these more delicate instruments a sound similar to what Chopin might have heard as he played? Will they select a piano with two foot pedals…or with four? The pianos also vary in the number of keys on the keyboard, varying from 6-1/2 to 7 octaves (a modern piano has just over 7, a Bösendorfer Imperial has 8).
You will certainly enjoy hours of piano music. The last phase of the competition will feature performances with an orchestra.
Image attribution: Drawing of Chopin by Maria Wodzińska (Own work copied by Nihil novi) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AChopin%2C_by_Wodzinska.JPG