Original 1827 Mathias Jakesch Fortepiano
In 2000 James Green, a member of the Executive Board of the American Beethoven Society, encouraged Ira Brilliant and William Meredith to collaborate in a search for an original fortepiano appropriate for the performance of Beethoven’s late works, an instrument that would complement the fortepiano given by the Brilliants appropriate for the composer’s early music. After consultations with Cornell University professor and renowned fortepianist Malcolm Bilson and an inspection by Green and Meredith, the Center settled on an extremely rare Viennese fortepiano owned by Edward Swenson of Swenson’s Piano Shop (Trumansburg, New York). Because he wished to find an appropriate home for the instrument, Swenson agreed to sell the instrument at a substantial discount from its advertised price, and a small group of donors contributed funds that enabled us to turn Green’s dream into a reality in the summer of 2001. The dedication recital for the instrument was given by Malcolm Bilson.
Description By Edward Swenson: “MATHIAS JAKESCH Concert fortepiano, Vienna, 1827, in perfect original condition. 7'7" long, 4' 2" wide. Keyboard range: C''' to f''''. Six pedals including single and double moderator, keyboard shift, damper lift, Janissary, and bassoon. INSCRIPTION ON THE NAMEBOARD: [Black ink on opaque glass]:’Mathias Jakesch Bürger/Wien_Wieden No. 275.’ Printed on a business card on the soundboard: ‘Mathias Jakesch/Bürgl. Clavier Instrumentenmacher/ [engraving of a grand and a square fortepiano] auf der Wieden in der Waaggasse beÿm blauen Hechten/ No. 275 in Wien.’ Extraordinarily beautiful walnut cabinet decorated with gold leaf. HISTORY AND PROVENANCE: 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. No other instruments by Mathias Jakesch are currently documented. A piano and organ maker, Mathias Jakesch was born around 1783 in Loschin near Brno, Moravia. He died 14 July 1828 in Vienna at age 45. He lived in Vienna auf der Wieden, Kirchengasse 182. At Mathias Jakesch's death on July 14, 1828, he left his widow Walburga with five adolescent children. The guardian of his children was the famous fortepiano builder Conrad Graf.”
Gift of Ira and Irma Brilliant; Patricia and Jim Compton; James F. Green; Carol and Lin Krebs; Heidi and Michael Melas; Elizabeth and Richard Moley; Dean Carmen Sigler, College of Humanities and the Arts; Jack Silveira; and Thomas Wendel, 2001.
For more photographs of our Jakesch fortepiano, see the historical keyboards page.