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Now THIS is a vintage keyboard

Mark Zeger

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LONDON (Reuters) - The grand piano Frederic Chopin took on his last concert tour has been found in an English country house thanks to detective work by a Swiss musical scholar.


``It came as a bolt from the blue,'' said British collector Alec Cobbe after discovering that the piano he bought 20 years ago for 2,000 pounds is a piece of musical history.


For more than 150 years after the composer's death, Chopin's piano vanished until Professor Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger researched the ledgers of French pianomaker Camille Pleyel.


The scholar, who had met Cobbe at a Chopin conference, came to see the collector armed with details of where and to whom all the Pleyel pianos were sold.as the one the Polish-born composer brought to Britain on a farewell tour in 1848.


``This really was a rare moment,'' Cobbe, a collector of antique keyboard instruments, told Reuters.


``There are only three other pianos known to have been possessed by Chopin. One is in Paris and one is in Majorca and neither of those work. The last is in Warsaw,'' he said.


``Ours works utterly beautifully. It is something very special when you are playing it.''


Before leaving Britain to return to Paris after what turned out to be the last tour before his death, Chopin sold the Pleyel to an English aristocrat called Lady Trotter.


Bequeathed to one of her relatives, the piano ended up in a country mansion before being sent to auction and then sold to Cobbe by a dealer in antique pianos.


Chopin once remarked ``Pleyel pianos are the last word in perfection.'' Now music fans can hear what the composer's music would have actually sounded like in his own salon.


Chopin's piano is part of the Cobbe collection of musical instruments displayed at Hatchlands, a country house run by Britain's National Trust in the southern English county of Surrey.


It is billed as the world's finest music collection, boasting instruments owned or played by Purcell, Bach, Mozart and Mahler.


Now, after two decades in blissful ignorance, Cobbe can proclaim he possesses a Chopin grand piano.


``I had absolutely no idea we had a world monument of western music,'' he said.



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Quote by Daviel:


"I wonder if he'd let a visitor play it. I wonder if its sound would pass muster here among the forum's hardware piano critics".



1. No way. 2. Probably not!


Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.


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Chopin allegedly sold it because his music was about to take a radical new direction and would be better suited by a Pleyel Suitcase 73. At the time of his death, he had already been booked to headline the 1850 Isle of Wight Festival.


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... and while we might consider its sound NOW to be the ultimate essence of what vintage actually sounds like, perhaps it sounded different in its prime, much cleaner, less muddy, and so our assumptions about vintage sound are all entirely misguided simply due to the fact of its aging.
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>There are only three other pianos known to have been possessed by

> Chopin.


But two of them have been exorcised. A priest came in and played some Rachmaninov.


Now, if you can find the piano played by JS Bach (the one he said wasn't very good, that's a vintage instrument(or is it already in a museum somewhere?))



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Thanks Mark, great story.


Probably this old piano doesn't have the richness of a newer 9', but I'm sure it has its own special delicate charm.


And contrary to the usual comment that Pleyel pianos had a light action, the few I played always had a tough one. The grand prize for the single piano with heaviest action ever was a Pleyel I had the chance to try at a prestigious historical site here in Québec. It came from a museum and was apparently recently restored by specialists. Each key probably needed 200 g or more. :grin:


I would be curious to test the touch on that Chopin's Pleyel to compare.

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