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Chopin's Pleyel piano

Ignaz Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831)

Category

Musical instruments, devices and recordings

Date

1846

Materials

Rosewood, iron and ivory

Measurements

920 mm (H); 2075 mm (W); 1310 mm (D)

Place of origin

Rue Rochechouart

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Collection

Hatchlands Park, Surrey (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Hatchlands Park, Surrey, London and South East, National Trust

NT 1165582

Caption

Chopin chose this piano from the workshop of his preferred piano maker in 1848, probably in January, almost certainly gave his last Paris concert on it in February and brought it to England in April. It is the only instrument that Chopin referred to as “my own” (Pleyel normally and was in his Mayfair drawing room for the duration of his busy London season; he sold it when he left London for Scotland at the end of July.

Summary

A Louis Philippe rosewood grand pianoforte with foliate tapering legs, by Ignace Pleyel, Paris, 1847-8. The detailed records of the Pleyel firm show that this instrument No. 13819 was begun on 25 January 1847, completed a year later on 8 January 1848 and supplied to Fréderic Chopin. It was almost certainly the newly received piano Chopin mentions in a letter of 11 February 1848. Plaque on nameboard: 'Ignace Pleyel and Companie, Facteurs de Pianos No. 20,. Rue Rochechouart, Paris. Medailles d'Or 1827, 1834, 1839 et 1844'. The Pleyel ledgers confirm that it was the piano Chopin brought to England from Paris in April 1848, and the composer used it throughout his London season in his lodgings on Dover Street Mayfair. He gave his first London concert on it, a private evening in Gore House.

Provenance

Chosen from the Pleyel factory by Chopin and possessed in his rooms in Paris and subsequently in London. Sold by the composer to Lady Trotter in July 1848, for her daughter Margaret who was a friend and probable pupil of Chopin's. Possibly bequeathed by Margaret Trotter to her grandniece Margaret Lindsay, who married Sir Lewis Majendie of Castle Hedingham near Saffron Waldon. Sold in an auction house in Saffron Walden c. 1979 where bought by Ian Pleeth. Purchased from him by Alec Cobbe in 1988. The Hon Tom Lindsay inherited Castle Hedingham in 1981 and was told by the housekeeper that a piano had recently been sold from the property. (From Chopin’s Swansong, Chopin Society and Cobbe Collection Trust ).

Marks and inscriptions

Ignace Pleyel and Compie, Facteurs de Pianos and numbered PN13819D

Makers and roles

Ignaz Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831), makers

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