Mozart's Piano Returns Home to Applause

Famed composer's piano is played in Vienna

ByABC News
November 8, 2012, 4:15 PM

Nov. 8, 2012— -- Like a symphony, all the dramatic elements came together.

The piano that Mozart used for the last 10 years of his life and which he used to compose much of his music was returned to his former home in Vienna for a performance of his music.

"A big, positive shock was how good the instrument is," said Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov Melnikov after the concert Wednesday. "One can't experience something more overwhelming as a pianist than this."

"It was played as Mozart heard it," says Isabelle Hackenberg, a music lover who attended Melnikov's performance. "The concert was electrifying and rhapsodic. Can it ever get better?"

Mozart's piano, used throughout the last decade of his life to compose all of his piano concertos, temporarily returned to composer's former home, on Domgasse, now the Mozarthaus museum, in Vienna for the first time since Mozart's death in 1791.

The instrument is permanently housed in the Mozarteum museum in Salzburg. The museum's director, Matthias Schultz, told Reuters: "If we didn't know it was in the best hands, we wouldn't have done it."

The piano spent two weeks in Vienna and was returned to Salzburg today.

The piano was originally made by Anton Walter, who is said to be the most famous Viennese piano maker of Mozart's time. It has two octaves less than a modern piano, and is much lighter and smaller than modern pianos, weighing just 187 pounds (85kg), and is three feet wide and a bit more than seven feet long (one meter by 2.23 meters.)

"Wolfgang Amadeus would carry it around to all concerto venues in Vienna," said Dr. Alfred Stalzer of Vienna Mozarthaus. "He bought it 1782 and used it till the end of his life."

"As a born pianist," writes Eva Bandura-Skoda, an Austrian musicologist and an expert on history of fortepiano, 'Mozart understandably wanted to own the very best concert grand available. His instrument, still remains the best fortepiano of the period, an excellent concert grand, precious not only because Mozart gave his many subscription concerts on it, but also because of its quality."

By the time of his death, at age 35, Mozart produced more than 600 compositions: symphonies, operas, concertos, quartets, cantatas. He is regarded by many as the world's greatest natural musical genius.

Melnikov played two sonatas and two fantasias Mozart wrote on his piano in Vienna, when he was in his thirties.

"These works (K. 475, K397, K457, K332), they bubble over with playful finales, a demonstration of the composer-pianist's invention and wit," Stalzer said.