Great composers and their favorite pianos

Viviana Sofronitsky – fortepianos

Renowned pianist Viviana Sofronitsky will present at her concert the fortepianos made in the workshop of Paul McNulty – Walter, Teller and Boisselot. Viviana performs on every fortepiano the music created for that instrument – Beethoven, Chopin and others.


23.11.21 at 18.00 online-concert

Great composers and their favorite pianos

Viviana Sofronitsky – fortepiano’s

Introduction by Paul Mcnulty

The following fortepiano’s will be used in the concert:

J.A. Stein 1772

Walter 1792

Graf 1819

B. Streicher 1868

The instruments has been made in the workshop of Paul McNulty.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Fantasy d minor K.397 on Walter

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Fantasy C- major, Presto, Hob. XVII:4 (1789) on Stein (no leather)

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Impromtu B-flat major Andante op posth 142 nr 3 on Graf

Joseph Haydn 

12 Variations E-flat major Moderato Hob.XVII:3 on Stein + Walter

Johannes Brahms  (1797-1828)

Intermezzo op 117 nr 2  B-flat major

Andante non troppo e con molto espressione on Streicher

W.A. Mozart

Rondo D major K.485 on Walter

F. Schubert

Impromptus G flat major nr 3 op 90 Andante on Graf

Boisselot 1846 personal Liszt’s piano, property of Klassik Stiftung Weimar

sound illustration Franz Liszt (1811-1886) Funerailles (1849)

F. Schubert

Waltz nr. 1 from D.145, op 18 E major

demonstrating Bassoon and Turkish music stops on Conrad Graf’s piano (1819, op 308) by Paul McNulty


Viviana Sofronitsky is a Russian-Canadian fortepianist, one of the world’s leading performers specializing in Classical and Romantic music. Her concerts captivate audiences as well-known pieces reveal the most colourful and telling effects once available to classical and romantic composers. Her collection of top-quality new pianos includes Mozart’s and Beethoven’s favorites Walter and Stein, Schubert’s Graf, Chopin’s Pleyel and Liszt’s Boisselot. Her recent London Wigmore Hall performance with 5 pianos on stage was acclaimed a “revelation”.

Viviana began her music studies in her family, following in the footsteps of her father, Vladimir Sofronitsky, the distinguished Russian pianist. After earning a DMA from the Moscow Conservatory she studied early music in Oberlin, US. In 1999 Viviana Sofronitsky received historical fortepiano and harpsichord performance degrees from the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag.

Viviana Sofronitsky was awarded the First Prize at the Bach Tage Berlin competition, as well as main prizes at the Musica Antiqua competition at the MAFestival, Brugge. She performed at leading festivals and concert halls, including Wigmore Hall, London, Printemps des Arts, Nantes, Leipzig Bach Festival, Flanders Festival, the Handelsbeurs and de Bijloke in Gent, Oslo Chamber Music Festival, Tage Alte Musik Berlin and Klang und Raum in Germany, Triphony Sumida hall in Japan and others.

Viviana Sofronitsky gives masterclasses,  lectures, is a member of jury in international competitions and has featured often in European and American broadcasts. She has recorded with “, “Avi”, “ETCetera”  and “Pro Musica Camerata” (complete Mozart concertos)” also “Centaur“,““Suoni e colori”, “Globe”, “Passacaille. Among her recent recordings are complete piano and cello works of Mendelssohn and Chopin with Sergei Istomin as well as solo works by Schubert on early romantic fortepiano.  Her current projects include Chopin solo works on copy of his favourite Pleyel and Liszt on a copy of Liszt’s favourite personal fortepiano. Viviana Sofronitsky lives in Europe from where she is travelling worldwide with her fortepianos. 

Johann Andreas Stein (1728–1792) was one of the most important fortepiano makers of Mozart’s time. When Mozart visited Augsburg in 1777, he befriended Stein and used Stein’s fortepianos in a public performance of the triple concerto, given on October 22 with three soloists –Mozart, cathedral organist Demmler and Stein. Mozart was most impressed with Stein’s instruments’ quality and wrote enthusiastically to his father about them.

Anton Walter (1752–1826) was considered to be the most famous fortepiano maker of his time, praised for their quality by Mozart, who bought a Walter in 1782, and by Beethoven, who nearly succeeded in buying one in 1802. Haydn owned the sister piano to Mozart’s. According to Mozart’s son Carl: “Most remarkable is the wing-shaped pianoforte for which my father had a special preference to such a degree that he not only wanted to have it in his study all the time, but exclusively used this and no other instrument in all his concerts…”

Conrad Graf (1782 – 1851), who had from 1824 the title of “Imperial Royal Court Fortepiano Maker” (” k. k. Hofpiano- und Claviermacher”), was born in Riedlingen (Wurttemberg) and came to Vienna in 1799 as a joiner. He became a piano builder and opened his own workshop in 1804. Very soon his instruments were considered “the greatest and most renowned in Vienna and throughout the empire.” Graf not only supplied instruments to all the apartments of the imperial court but also provided a pianoforte for Ludwig van Beethoven in 1825. Chopin, Robert and Clara Schumann, Liszt and Mendelssohn held Graf pianos in the highest esteem.

Johann Baptiste Streicher was the son of Nanette Stein and Johann Andreas Streicher. He was part of a piano making dynasty, already one hundred years famous in 1870, when the Streicher company gave Brahms a grand piano (Serial No. 6713, manufactured in 1868), which he used for the rest of his life. Brahms described his relation to his piano in a letter to Clara Schumann: “It is quite a different matter to write for instruments whose characteristics and sound one only incidentally has in one’s head and which one can only hear mentally, than to write for an instrument which one knows through and through, as I know this piano. There I always know exactly what I write and why I write one way or another.” He also advised her, in another letter, to buy a Streicher . When Clara Schumann visited Johannes Brahms for the last time in 1896, together with her children, they gathered in his apartment around his Streicher piano, and she played, reading through his latest, probably intermezzos, with tears streaming down her cheeks.  This particular instrument realizes a beautiful, confident design from a unique dynasty in piano building.  The impulse to reproduce Brahms’s favourite piano came from prominent Australian Professor Neal Peres da Costa, the author of “Off the Record: Performing Practices in Romantic Piano Playing” – Oxford Press. The project was hugely aided by Paul McNulty’s owning two contemporaneous pianos, opp.6747 and 6932, which functioned as a priceless technical resource, controlling every feature of construction and refinement.

The instruments used for this concert are made by Paul McNulty, who is one of the most highly respected builders working today. His instruments, modeled after the best instruments of classical and romantic era are the result of meticulous research of the originals. He has built more than 280 fortepianos after Silbermann, Stein, Walter, Hofmann, Fritz, Graf, Pleyel, Boisselot and Streicher which feature in many recordings and are owned by prominent players and leading music institutions such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paul Badura-Skoda, Ronald Brautigam, Paris Opera, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Glyndebourne Festival  and Warsaw Chopin Institute.