The life and legacy of violin virtuoso, composer and co-founder of the Edinburgh Music Festival Felix Yaniewicz are summed up and celebrated in a recently restored piano bearing his signature.
The “Yaniewicz & Green” square piano dates from 1810 and arrived in Edinburgh in November after its restoration and a crowdfunding campaign by the Friends of Felix Yaniewicz in partnership with the Polish Scottish Cultural Association. It was rediscovered in a private home in Snowdonia 20 years ago, by Yaniewicz descendant, Josie Dixon. While in a dilapidated condition, it was purchased by the first keyboard expert Douglas Hollick, who restored it to its former glory.
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Born in 1762, Yaniewicz’s early career took him from Vilnius to Vienna, Italy and then to Paris, from where he was forced to flee the French Revolution. He sought refuge in Britain, where he rose to fame as a violinist and composer. In 1815, Yaniewicz moved to Edinburgh and co-founded the first Edinburgh Festival. Today, Yaniewicz’s music is little known outside of Poland, despite its impact on British musical life – his many compositions include five violin concertos, six divertimenti for two violins, and one piano concerto. His style was a fusion of classical influences from Haydn and Mozart, with elements of Polish folk music.
The piano will be housed at the House of Polish Ex-Combatants on Drummond Place in Edinburgh, on the corner of Great King Street, where Yaniewicz lived until his death.
Further celebrating Yaniewicz’s legacy as a composer, two recitals will be given on the square piano by principal keyboardist with the Age of Enlightenment Orchestra Steven Devine and professor at the Royal Academy of Music Pawel Siwczak, who will perform the works of Yaniewicz more pieces by contemporary composers on November 12 and 14 respectively.
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