The Friends conduct research to uncover the reception of Chopin’s music in Australia.
Please take a look at our current projects and let us know if you are interested in collaborating with the Friends, or if you have complimentary research interests, by clicking on the 'Collaborate' link.
We will be publishing our progress on this website.
1847 Pleyel Piano
In 2013, the ANU School of Music (SoM) acquired an 1847 Pleyel Concert Grand piano for its historic keyboard collection. With its initial purchase of the Pleyel, the SoM intended that it could be associated with the Australian International Chopin Competition. And this is something that the Friends of Chopin Australia are very keen to support, but also that this beautiful instrument needs to be heard publicly more often. The Friends of Chopin Australia approached Professor Peter Tregear, Head of the ANU School of Music, and Dr Erin Helyard, musicologist and curator of the keyboard collection, with an offer to financially support the maintenance and restoration, where necessary, of the Pleyel, to enable this instrument to engage the public with the music of Chopin. An offer which they gladly accepted.
At the moment, the piano is under the care of Canberra piano technician Chris Leslie who has been working closely with Dr Helyard. Although the lineage of the piano is not known, it does date from Chopin’s own time, and so is an important historic link to the understanding and appreciation of Chopin’s music.
1857 Erard Piano
A member of the Friends has acquired an 1857 Erard Concert Grand piano and is engaged in its restoration with a view to historically informed performance, and having it play alongside the Pleyel in historically recreated salon recitals. In beginning to trace the pianos provenance, some tantalising potential links to music in the early Australian colony and also, remarkably, to Chopin himself are emerging.
The restoration of this piano is also in the hands of Chris Leslie from Canberra. Grzegorz Machnacki, of Piano Boutique in Melbourne, but formerly of the National Institute of Fryderyk Chopin, the Chopin University of Music and the Fryderyk Chopin Society in Warsaw, and whose own restoration of an 1855 French Erard sits in the Chopin Museum, is also taking an interest in the project of restoration.
Chopin’s music was on sale in the Australian colony as early as 1843, while the composer still lived. This area of research is focussing on the notable pianists of the early colony, any connections to Chopin that may exist, and the public performances of Chopin’s music that would have introduced his works to a wider audience.
The Australian Music Examinations Board has provided a system of graded exams for the piano and other instruments in Australia since 1918, and its precursor organisations since the early 1890s. Our research is focussing on the appearance of Chopin’s music in the AMEB piano syllabus and the people who are responsible for putting his music into the syllabus.
1915–1918 marks the centenary of involvement of Australian forces in the Great War (World War I). The Friends are conducting a number of related research and performance activities to mark this occasion, including:
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