On the anniversary of Poland’s regaining of independence, The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, in collaboration with Polish Television and Polish Radio, is organizing an event of extraordinary character. The 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments will take place in September of next year in Warsaw; subsequent editions will be organized every five years.
During the 20th century, the historical performance trend – which has been truly blossoming in the past 50 years – focused on music written in the period from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, sporadically turning to later repertoire. In this context, restoring the authentic sound of music by Fryderyk Chopin and composers contemporary to him is particularly important. Approximating the original color and mechanics of the instruments the composer had at his disposal permits us to grasp the unique, specific character of Chopin’s music, with its one-of-a-kind articulation and harmonic language, in large measure lost in interpretations on contemporary instruments.
A milestone in the restoration of the authentic sound of works by Chopin and Polish composers contemporary to him will be the organization by The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, in collaboration with Polish Television and Polish Radio, of the unprecedented on a worldwide scale International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments.
The Competition participants will be pianists from all over the world, aged 18 to 35. The Competition jury is comprised of outstanding representatives of the music world whose artistic and professional activity situates them among the most distinguished specialists in the field of historical performance.
The Competition schedule provides for three rounds: the first and second are solo recitals whose repertoire – apart from works by Chopin – will include selected works by Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as polonaises by Polish composers active in the first half of the 19th century. In the third round, the six finalists will perform the Chopin works with orchestre of their choice, accompanied by the legendary Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, well known to the Polish audience.
The Competition participants will have at their disposal period pianos from the collections of The Fryderyk Chopin Institute (Erards from 1838, 1849 and 1858; Pleyels from 1846 and 1854; and a Broadwood from 1843), originals and copies of period instruments brought in by European restorers and collectors. Aside from monetary prizes, the winners will also receive offers of prestigious concerts with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, as well as recording projects.
One of the main programming premises of the Competition is to popularize performance on period instruments. Thus, the realization of high-quality audiovisual broadcasting via Polish Television, on the example of the 17th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition, will be particularly important. The Fryderyk Chopin Institute will also create a multimedia platform responding to the needs of music lovers all over the world.
|By 1 May 2018
By 30 June 2018
Announcement of the list of participants
|4‒6 September||Stage I|
|8‒10 September||Stage II|
|12‒13 September||Final with the orchestra|
|14 September||Winners’ concert|
- Claire Chevallier
- Nikolai Demidenko
- Nelson Goerner
- Tobias Koch
- Alexei Lubimov
- Janusz Olejniczak
- Ewa Pobłocka
- Andreas Staier
- Wojciech Świtała
- Dang Thai Son
First prize: 15 000 €
Second prize: 10 000 €
Third prize: 5 000 €
The main prize winners shall be entitled to the title of “Laureate of the 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments”.
The remaining finalists shall receive equal distinctions of 1000€ each.
30 Participants in the 1st International Chopin Competition on
We know the names of the 30 pianists who will take part in the 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments. The young pianists’ battle will take place from 2 to 14 September at the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall.
The most numerous group of artists admitted to the Competition are representatives of Poland – 16 persons. Beyond this, the Competition’s participants will include 4 pianists from Japan, 2 each from Russia, China and France, and 1 each from the United States, Romania, Belgium and Ukraine.
One of the main programming premises of the Competition is to popularize performance on instruments from Chopin’s era.
Period Pianos – Institute’s Collection
The instrument was made in Paris 1838. According to the Erard company’s records, it was first sold on 12 December 1838. Mr Forkel and Mr Vigvier of Bordeaux became its owners. The piano’s serial numbers 14214. Made of mahogany wood, the instrument has an ivory keyboard with 80 keys [CC – g4]. All parts are original and in excellent condition, except the felt pads and the strings, which were replaced in the Erard factory in 1922. The action, especially its repetition part, is typical of the period in which the instrument was made. The piano has a beautiful, rich tone and works perfectly well.
Erard Piano 
This instrument was built in Paris in 1849. Marked with the serial number 21118, it is of identical construction to the instruments familiar to Fryderyk Chopin.
Its metal frame comprises a hitch pin-block [the strings are stretched between the hitch pin-block and the wrest pin-block] and six braces [counterbalancing the combined force of the taut strings, reaching up to 20 tonnes]. It is the predecessor of the cast-iron piano frame used today. The keyboard covers a total of 7¼ octaves, as in modern concert grand.
The original, historical substance of the instrument is preserved in its entirety, with the exception of the elements routinely changed with use. The instrument was restored using identical elements, made from the same raw materials and with the same technology, as in the mid-nineteenth century.
[The piano was a gift for the Fryderyk Chopin Institute from the Ryszard Krauze Foundation]
The instrument was built in Paris in 1858, marked with serial number 30315, rosewood veneered, inlaid with ormolu frames. It has an iron frame connected with screws, consisting of pinning table and six stress bars, a predecessor of the today’s full iron cast frame. Keyboard compass covers seven octaves (AA-a’’’’), like in modern instruments. The piano is equipped with a typical Erard’s hammer action, a prototype of the today generally used double repetition English action.
The instrument was built in 1846 in Paris. It has 82 keys [CC – a4]. It was purchased by the Chopin Institute in 2005 from the collection of Chris Maene. The instrument is typical of Chopin’s times. Its original, historical substance is preserved virtually intact, with the original hammers and soundboard. It has a single English action.
Pleyel piano [c.1854]
Pleyel piano no. 20042 (c.1854), from the collection of Adam Zamoyski, straight-stringed, in a case of veneered palisander with rich bas-relief elements of classical decoration, English Pleyel action with single repetition, keyboard range of 6⅔ octaves from CC to a4, possessing una corda and damper pedals. It is almost identical to the ‘petit patron’ model D, that Chopin used 1845-1846 in his flat at 9 Place d’Orléans in Paris. Until 2013 held at the Château du Lude on the Loire river in France, now in deposit at the Fryderyk Chopin Institute.
John Broadwood & Sons [c.1843]
A grand piano (serial no. 16000) made by a renowned English firm whose owners introduced many improvements to the construction of both upright and grand pianos.
Originally ordered from Broadwood by Georges Wildes of Manchester. Rosewood veneered, pie-crust model. Straight-strung, composite frame with six metal stress bars. English single repetition action with over dampers. Keyboard compass C2-f4, 6½ octaves; two pedals, una corda and dampers. According to company archives, twice repaired in 1855.
Fryderyk Chopin played on a similar instrument in a Gentlemen’s Concert held on 28 August 1848.
Fully restored, it has regained its original technical efficiency as a concert instrument. Purchased in 2014 by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, it now stands in the Birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin in Żelazowa Wola.
Pianoforte Graf [copy of an instrument from c. 1819]
A copy of the Schubertian instrument from c. 1819, made in Paul McNulti’s workshop in 2007. It was commissioned by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute. This type of piano was very popular in the early romantic era. Chopin probably composed some of his youthful pieces on a similar one. The instrument has the Viennese action with the so called single repetition. Unlike modern pianos, its hammers are covered with leather. Most of the strings are from iron wire, except the bass strings, made from brass. The instrument does not have any iron frame. It has four pedals – moderator, double moderator, sustaining and una corda – allowing to get a wide range of both dynamics and tone colours.
Fryderyk Buchholtz [copy of an instrument from c. 1824-25]
This instrument is a copy of a wing-shaped grand piano by Fryderyk Buchholtz of Warsaw from c.1825–1826, held in the Museum of Local History in Kremenets, Ukraine. It was based on the Viennese model which was popular at that time (built by the leading Viennese maker Conrad Graf, among others, and also employed by Polish makers). It was characterised by a case with rounded corners, resting on three turned column legs. The copy made by Paul McNulty is pyramid rosewood veneered, straight strung in plain 2- and 3-string unisons, with a Viennese action, hammer heads covered with several layers of leather, wedge dampers and a 6½-octave keyboard with the compass C1-f4. This keyboard is broader than the original Buchholtz keyboard (6 octaves, F1-f4), with several additional notes in the bass, making it possible to perform the works Chopin was writing in the late 1830s. This piano also has four pedals operating mechanical registers: una corda, moderator, double moderator and damper
Thus, the realization of high-quality audiovisual broadcasting via Polish Television, on the example of the 17th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition, will be particularly important. The Fryderyk Chopin Institute will also create a multimedia platform responding to the needs of music lovers all over the world.
The 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments will begin on 2 September 2018 with two inaugural concerts. The three-round Competition battle will last until 14 September.