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Tobias Koch, Feb 22 and Feb 23, 2019

In an article written about the 1st International Chopin Competition for period instruments, held in September of 2018, Jakub Puchalski writes, “(T)he competition allowed for the emergence of new ways of interpreting piano music, and they are necessary and natural if we are turning to a new medium – including a historical medium.” In addition, the competition encouraged young performers to explore the use of period instruments, in order to discover “the conditions and the possibilities which they afford…”. In that way, studying 19th century piano repertoire on period pianos would lead us to look at even very familiar music in new ways.

This is why we will continue to present concerts on historical pianos. In addition, we plan to, through fundraising efforts, acquire a high quality period instrument from Europe. This is of course a plan for the future. For now, after our highly successful collaboration with Early Music Vancouver last season, we are happy to again work with our friends at EMV to bring you another remarkable artist, Tobias Koch, in a pair of recitals on a period piano.

These recitals are special events and they are not part of our subscription series.
Friday tickets - very limited - click to purchase.
Saturday tickets - good availability - click to purchase.

A specialist in performing on period pianos, as well as in historically informed performances; Tobias Koch is one of the leading performers in romantic performance practice. He has a discography of over 25 CDs, and his career as a solo pianist, chamber musician, and Lied collaborator has taken him to music festivals all over Europe.

Why should we play 19th century music, music of Chopin and his near contemporaries, on a period piano? Why should we be attending a concert where such music is being played on a piano from the 1850’s?

According to renowned musicologist Beniamin Vogel, if we want to recreate, or have a better idea, of the original sound of the music of Chopin, we “must return to that instrument and the state of its development, in terms of both technology and sound.”

Pianos built during Chopin’s times were much more delicate than today’s mighty concert grand pianos. Their light hammers, with leather covered heads (felts were introduced in the late 1830’s), struck thinner and shorter strings at a lesser tension than we do today. Their considerably lighter action and key dip “enabled the player to obtain a sound immediately for minimum effort.” Vogel adds that virtuosi of the day did not need to be in excellent health in order to create a sound from the piano, certainly a consideration for a pianist of Chopin’s delicate constitution.

The sound of period pianos is also different because of the variety of materials used to make strings. Therefore, rather than the homogenized sound one gets from modern pianos, the different registers of a period piano has a different, timbrally rich tone. Individual bass notes could be differentiated even in the mightiest chords, and treble notes resembled plucked instruments and resounded for longer than today’s instruments.

We are very fortunate to have available to us, for our concerts, a beautifully restored 1852 Broadwood piano. Although Chopin was known for playing Pleyel and Érard pianos, he was very familiar with the pianos of John Broadwood. In 1827, he heard and admired the Warsaw performances of Maria Szymanowska, who played on a Broadwood piano brought directly from London.

On February 22nd and 23rd, 2019, at 7:30 p.m., period piano specialist Tobias Koch will give two performances in Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral. For his first recital, Koch will recreate the programme Chopin played at his last public recital (1848) in Edinburgh. On the second evening, the artist will present a programme of “The Polish Romantics”, music by early 19th century Polish composers who influenced the young Chopin, as well as music by Polish composers who were influenced by Chopin. The aforementioned Maria Szymanowska will be one of the composers represented in this concert. Please read a short essay below about "The Polish Romantics".

Other than enjoying an evening of beautiful music, this concert will give us much insight into the source of Chopin’s style, and a look at the evolution of 19th century Polish music besides Chopin.

At the aforementioned Chopin Competition for period instruments, audience members were astounded and moved by the music of Chopin played on period pianos. The real revelation to everyone was how different even the same instruments sound when played by different pianists. Join us on February 22nd and 23rd, and together we will explore the magical sound world of a period piano. Come and hear what Chopin’s music may have sounded like when he composed them.

It is unlikely that these two highly unique and original programmes would ever be presented in Vancouver again.

For all music lovers, teachers and students of music and the piano, and for people interested in the arts and aesthetics of the 19th century, these are concerts that you would not want to miss.

For the purposes of the Chopin Competition the jury of the 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments selected five instruments among the collection of nineteen. Two of these five: a Pleyel from 1842 and an Erard from 1837 belonging to the collection of Edwin Beunk, a famous piano restorer. You are all invited to the viewing of a fascinating documentary ‘Lost Sound’ about this famous piano restorer, please come on Friday at 5 pm to the Parish Hall (downstairs) at Christ Church Cathedral. In this movie a Swiss collector acquires the valuable piano and asks Edwin Beunk to restore it. You will see all steps that are being taken in the restoration process.

For detailed programming information, and to purchase tickets, please visit our website.

Tobias Koch, Feb 23 - The Polish Romantics

What was the artistic environment in Chopin’s upbringing?

Who were some of the composers who influenced the young Chopin?

Who were the composers influenced by Chopin?

If you are curious about these questions, this is the concert you would not want to miss.

It is no exaggeration to say that Fryderyk Chopin was and is one of the most original geniuses in the history of music. We do not often think of the artistic milieu from which all this incredible music emerge; nor do we think of composers whose creations may have influenced young Chopin. When we look at a beautiful flower, we tend not to think of the soil that caused it to grow.

Tobias Koch’s recital, “The Polish Romantics”, will give us a glimpse into works of composers active before, during and after Chopin.

After Poland lost her independence in 1795, the arts and culture of the Polish assumed the task of sustaining the national spirit of her people. In music, Poland’s folk tradition became an important source of influence for composers. Music written around this time – works full of charm, shifting moods, melancholy, lyricism, but also of heroism – reflects the temperament and emotions of the people of Poland. Music became a channel in bemoaning the fate of the homeland, and in recalling the glorious age of Poland’s past.

In dance music written in the early 19th century, there was a gradual transition from functional to artistic dances – Polonaises and Mazurkas to be listened to. We hear this shift from the functional to the stylized in the Mazurkas written by Maria Szymanowska. Chopin then took the dance forms of the Polonaise and Mazurka and raised them to unparalleled heights, making them truly dances of the soul.

At the recital, you will hear Michal Kleofas Oginski’s “Farewell to the Homeland”, written as early as 1794, a very popular work at the time. In addition, Koch will perform compositions of Kurpinski and Elsner, Chopin’s composition teacher.

In the same concert, you will also hear works by composers influenced or inspired by Chopin - works by Edward Wolff, Karol Mikuli (Chopin’s own student), Raoul Koczalski, Ignacy Friedmann, and even the great Paderewski. There will, of course, also be music by Chopin.

The concert will be performed on a beautifully restored 1852 Broadwood piano.

A specialist in performing on period pianos, as well as in historically informed performances; Tobias Koch is one of the leading performers in romantic performance practice. He has a discography of over 25 CDs, and his career as a solo pianist, chamber musician, and Lied collaborator has taken him to music festivals all over Europe.

If you are a lover of music of the 19th century, or curious about works by composers we do not often get to hear, don’t miss this concert.

Tobias Koch’s “The Polish Romantics” will be held on at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019, at downtown’s beautiful Christ Church Cathedral. For details about the programme, or to purchase tickets, visit the website of The Vancouver Chopin Society or Early Music Vancouver

Patrick May, President



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Next Concerts

2018/19 SEASON

Tobias Koch
Co-presentation with,
Early Music Vancouver
Feb 22 and 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Christ Church Cathedral

Last Chopin Concert
The Polish Romantics

Nelson Goerner
April 7, 2019 at 3 pm
Vancouver Playhouse


Kate Liu
May 19, 2019 at 3 pm
Vancouver Playhouse


Alan Walker
May 19, 2019 at 1:30 pm
Vancouver Playhouse Salons



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