Historical Keyboard Collection:
Original fortepiano from 1827 by Mathais Jakesch
The instrument, made by the builder Mathias Jakesch, is perfectly suited for the performance of Beethoven's middle and late period works. The Jakesch fortepiano came to the Beethoven Center in nearly perfect original condition. It is 7'7" long and 4'2" inches wide, with a keyboard range from C''' to f''''.
There are six pedals, including a single and double moderator, keyboard shift, damper lift, Janissary, and bassoon. Originally this fortepiano was the property of a famous noble family in Siena. The elaborate pedal lyre contains elements from the coat of arms of the Chigi-Gori-Zondadari families.
Mathias Jakesch was born around 1783 in Loschin near Brno, Moravia. His much younger brother Franz (1803-1840) was also a fortepiano builder, as was his uncle Johann Jakesch (ca. 1763-1840). After Mathias's death in Vienna on July 14, 1828 (at the age of 45), his widow continued to operate his shop. Because women were not allowed to raise children entirely on their own, the famous fortepiano builder Conrad Graf, a friend of the family, became guardian of her five children.
Fewer than a handful of fortepianos by Mathias Jakesch are currently known to exist.
Eight members of the American Beethoven Society and the College of Humanities and the Arts donated the funds to acquire the instrument from the fortepiano shop of Edward E. Swenson of Trumannsburg, New York. World-renowned fortepianist Malcolm Bilson, Professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, advised the Center on the acquisition and performed the all-Beethoven inaugural concert in 2001.