Anonymous, Viennese school, ca 1785
This magnificent piano must have been in Germany, in Gera to be precise, proof of which was found under the soundboard where mice had made their nests of snippets of Gera newspaper and of a Gera bee-keeper’s brochure.
The great instrument makers of the Friederici family lived in Gera, they made pianos and other instruments in solid oak. But since there is no surviving comparable instrument which is signed, it cannot be attributed to Friederici with certainty.
It is clear though that this instrument is a perfect piano for music of Mozart and Haydn.
In Mozart’s day composers were commissioned by the nobility to compose music for various special occasions. This music was performed in halls of palaces. As yet there was no concert practice of audiences sitting on chairs listening to performers on a stage. The gentleman on the miniature of around 1785 is attributed to Louis-André Fabre, and a perfect example of the social class attending these occasions.
There was some woodworm damage, some soundboard cracks and some loose glueing joints. Apart from one leg which is replaced and the leather on the hammer heads the instrument is pretty much in its original state.
Recordings, a selection
Alexei Lubimov and Yuri Martynov
W.A. Mozart, pieces for two fortepianos
Zig-Zag Territoires, ZZT306