One of my piano students is learning the Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata first movement. This is one of those “classical pop” hits that I never wanted to play when I was studying, considering them a little too plebian somehow for me. So it’s as thought I’m learning it for the first time too as he learns it. And who knew that I would actually learn something, albeit about Chopin, as a result!
As a consequence of Beethoven’s instructions to play the opening movement– “”Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino” (“One must play this whole piece [meaning “movement”] very delicately and without dampers.”). — I gave the student a quick lesson about the history of the piano as an instrument and explained to him that Beethoven’s piano was different from those one which we play today.
Later that weekend, he emailed me these photos:
So I learned something new. Chopin apparently favored the pianos by this particular manufacturer.
The firm provided pianos to Frédéric Chopin, and also ran a concert hall, the Salle Pleyel, where Chopin performed his first – and last – Paris concerts. Pleyel’s major contribution to piano development was the first use of a metal frame in a piano. Pleyel pianos were the choice of composers such as Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, de Falla and Stravinsky and of the pianist and teacher Alfred Cortot.