In a pursuit to revive the elusive sounds of Fryderyk Chopin’s early compositions, the album “Chopin’s Piano” takes the readers on a captivating journey into the world of the composer’s domestic piano. Shedding light on the importance of understanding the instrument used by Chopin before 1828, the album’s author, Beniamin Vogel, a musicologist specializing in instrumentology, emphasizes the significant differences between the pianos of Chopin’s era and those we are familiar with today.
A Symphony in Wood and Keys by Paul McNulty and Beniamin Vogel
Vogel’s insight sets the stage for the unique project undertaken by renowned Canadian piano builder Paul McNulty. With the Warsaw piano of the Polish maestro lost during the January Uprising, artistic endeavours such as Cyprian Norwid’s “Fortepian Szopena” have attempted to capture the essence of that moment. However, the only viable option became the reconstruction of a piano from Fryderyk Bucholtz’s workshop. McNulty, operating from his workshop in Divišov, Czech Republic, meticulously took on the task commissioned by the National Institute of Fryderyk Chopin.
From the moment the first tree was felled to the grand stage of a concert hall, the entire process of recreating Chopin’s piano has been frozen in time through the exceptional photography of Wojciech Grzędziński, showcased in the album. The story of the instrument is elucidated further in Vogel’s specialized article, available in Polish, English, and Japanese within the album.
McNulty’s Artistry and Nałęcka-Milach’s Ingenuity Illuminate a Musical Odyssey
McNulty, who moved to the Czech Republic from the United States in search of the finest wood for instrument construction, brings to life a faithful replica of Chopin’s Warsaw piano. The graphic design of the album, a brainchild of Anna Nałęcka-Milach, adds a tactile dimension to the experience, with piano strings on one side of the cover and hammer-felt texture on the other. Recognizing its uniqueness, the project earned Nałęcka-Milach the Honor Award from the Society of Polish Bibliophiles in Warsaw.
For those intrigued by the fascinating journey of this instrument, a short documentary directed by Piotr Stasik provides a visual narrative. The film, available on the Chopin Institute’s YouTube channel, delves into the making of the piano, offering viewers a glimpse into the dedication and craftsmanship required to recreate Chopin’s musical soul.