Yesterday we reported on a shortage of tone wood which has for centuries been harvested in South Bohemia to make pianos that even Mozart himself played in Vienna. As a matter of fact, the Czech Museum of Music owns a piano which Mozart played in Prague, and the instrument is now on display in the Czech capital.
This is the authentic sound of a hammer piano that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played in Prague 220 years ago.
"Mozart played this piano during his first visit to Prague in 1787. It was at his public performance in a young ladies' institute, a sort of school for noblewomen. He was accompanying a young woman from the Sternberg family who sang. This event is commemorated by a plaque that was later attached on the instrument,"
says Dagmar Fialova, director of the Czech Museum of Music in Prague where the instrument can be seen from now on. The museum has owned the piano since the 1950s and for years it was displayed at the Bertramka mansion where Mozart stayed during his visits to Prague. Since it was in bad repair the museum commissioned its restoration which was completed last year.
"It was in a poor state, so we sent it to Vienna where it was repaired by the Austrian restorer Albrecht Czernin under the supervision of musical instrument historian Alfons Huber."
The restorers found out the piano can be more than a mute exhibit. It can still play because its structure is stable and the soundboard in good condition. Yet the mechanical parts are very frail, so the piano gets out of tune after some 15 minutes of playing. The two-metre mahogany piano on four legs was made around 1785 in the workshop of the Viennese piano maker Franz Xaver Christoph, which makes it even more unique since only three instruments by Christoph have been preserved to this day.
"This instrument is also special because it has remained in a nearly authentic state. Compared to the famous 'Mozart' grand piano displayed in Salzburg, most of the strings of our instrument are original."
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