One of the fundamental ideas behind the work of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute from the very beginning, and at the same time a core element of its programme, is the aspiration to reviving the authentic sound of our brilliant composer's music.
The detailed plan of action in that domain, which has been followed consistently over the years, includes the realisation of the annual international music festival ‘Chopin and his Europe', created in 2005 according to an original project by Stanisław Leszczyński, which opened a new chapter in the interpretation of Chopin's music.
From the moment it purchased its first Chopin-era instrument - an Erard piano from 1849 - the Institute has been expanding its collection of period pianos and copies, placing them at the disposal of outstanding pianists; at the same time, it has been inviting the finest orchestras specialising in historical performance to Warsaw. Also realised with great success for several years now is a programme of recordings released by the Institute, including in the series The Real Chopin, containing - for the first time anywhere in the world - Chopin's complete works as they were originally heard.
By approaching the original performance apparatus which the composer had at his disposal, we have been able to restore to the awareness of present-day listeners the specific character of Chopin's music - the distinguishing features of that music which are lost in performance on modern instruments.
Another crucial step in spreading the idea of performing Chopin's music on period instruments will be the world's first ever Chopin Competition on historical instruments.
The first edition of this Competition, to be held at the Warsaw Philharmonic in September 2018, will be one of the highlights of the Chopin Institute's celebrations of the centenary of Poland regaining her independence.
The Competition is open to pianists of all nationalities aged 18 to 35. At the qualifying stage, the submitted applications - containing both recommendations and a video recording - will be evaluated by a selection committee comprising Polish musical authorities. Around forty pianists will be invited to take part in the Competition.
The Competition jury will be made up of outstanding representatives of the musical world whose artistic and professional work places them among the foremost specialists in the domain of historical performance and outstanding interpreters of Chopin's works (including on historical instruments).
The Competition timetable features three rounds: the first two rounds are solo recitals, the repertoire of which will feature - alongside works by Fryderyk Chopin, of course - a Prelude and Fugue from Johann Sebastian Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier and polonaises by Polish composers from the first half of the nineteenth century. In round three, the six finalists will perform selected Chopin works for piano and orchestra, accompanied by the legendary Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, well known to Polish music lovers for its pioneering performances of Chopin's works on historical instruments, presented many times during the ‘Chopin and his Europe' festival.
The prize-winners will receive - besides monetary awards - the proposition of giving prestigious concerts with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, as well as recording projects realised by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute.
The competing pianists will have at their disposal historical pianos from the Institute's collection (Erards from 1838, 1849 and 1855, Pleyels from 1848 and 1854, and a Broadwood from 1843) as well as copies of period instruments, including an instrument specially commissioned for the Competition: a copy of Chopin's Buchholtz piano from Warsaw.
As the main premises of the Competition programme include popularising the historical performance of Chopin's works and raising interest in this strand of interpretation among the broadest possible audience around the world, particular emphasis will be placed on offering - after the fashion of last year's 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition - top quality streaming of the entire competition and creating an attractive and informative dedicated Internet platform drawing on the latest technologies and meeting the needs of the contemporary participant in cultural life.
16th of January 2017