Landowska, Wanda. (1879–1959)
Large Signed Pleyel Promotional Photograph
Signed photograph of the Polish-French harpsichordist shown playing a Pleyel grand piano with double keyboard. Landowska has inscribed in her typical purple ink to the musicologist Johannes Franze and his wife, translated from the German, "To my dear friend J[ohannes] and Ilise Franze in fond memories and in intimate friendship. / Wanda Landowska / B.A. 1929." The photograph is mounted to rigid card above a printed caption reading, translated from the Spanish, "Wanda Landowska exclusively plays Pleyel harpsichords." Signature to a dark area of the image, some stray marks and nicks to the mount, else in fine condition. Photograph 6.6 x 8.5 inches (16.8 x 21.6 cm.).
"Eminent Polish keyboardist Wanda Landowska has been called many things over the past century: visionary, diva, virtuoso, Mamusia. Her story is extraordinary, a self-made legend who mined the rich past of early Western keyboard music to forge her future as an authentic performer and renowned scholar of these musical traditions. Founded in 1925, Landowska’s Ecole de Musique Ancienne in Saint-Leu-la-Forêt was the epicenter for studies of the harpsichord and featured a beautiful concert hall in which Landowska performed many of the greatest works composed for the instrument, most notably J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations in May, 1933." (Chris Hartten, "The Lost Treasures of Wanda Landowska," In the Muse, www.blogs.loc.gov) Six months later, she became the first person in history to record Bach's towering work. "The masterpiece had not been recorded before and had slumbered for nearly 200 years, known only to musical scholars. In the early years of this century Landowska was not alone in her attempts to rehabilitate the harpsichord, but it was she who re-established it with the public, together with the riches of its repertory and it was she more than anyone who brought the Goldberg Variations back to life." (Stephen Plaistow, "Landowska plays Bach," Gramophone)