Replica of Beethoven’s piano hits right note at WAAPA

WAAPA PhD student Elly Langford and Professor Geoffrey Lancaster with a piano by Paul McNulty to replicate Beethoven’s instrument made by Conrad Graf in 1819. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d496210
WAAPA PhD student Elly Langford and Professor Geoffrey Lancaster with a piano by Paul McNulty to replicate Beethoven’s instrument made by Conrad Graf in 1819. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d496210

IN a Western Australian first, a replica piano of great composer Beethoven’s “favourite” instrument has been unveiled at ECU Mt Lawley.

The piano will be used to teach students at the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and has arrived in time to begin 250th anniversary celebrations of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth.

“This piano is a coup for WA and the students at WAAPA,” Professor Geoffrey Lancaster said.

“We now have a potently wonderful piano to honour one of the world’s finest composers.”

The piano, donated to WAAPA’s Founding Pianos project by the Ungar Foundation, is an exact replica of the original made by Conrad Graf in Vienna in 1819.

It was handcrafted and made in the Czech Republic by master replica maker Paul McNulty, taking almost a year to create and is the only one of its kind in WA.

“It is an impeccable piano,” Prof Lancaster said.

“The maker has put his heart and soul into it; it is a flawless replica.”

The piano is made of Persian walnut from the same forest where Graf sourced wood for Beethoven’s piano two hundred years ago.

It offers a wide variety of sounds using both keys and pedals.

“It is like having an orchestra at your fingertips,” Prof Lancaster said.

December will mark the beginning of a year of celebrations to commemorate the birth of Beethoven and WAAPA plans to hold a series of concerts of his best sonatas.

Later this month, celebrated international fortepianist Tom Beghin will perform at WAAPA to kick of the concert series.

ECU’s Founding Pianos program includes the First Fleet piano currently being restored to playing order in the UK and due back in Perth in 2020.

Classical music students at WAAPA can apply for the Simon Lee Foundation scholarship, worth $100,000 over four years.

Master replica maker Paul McNulty made the piano in the Czech Republic. Picture: ECU