This autumn, we are thrilled to be offering The David Winston Piano Collection on 23 September 2021. A highlight from the auction is a rare Pleyel double grand piano (Lot 19). In the video below, David Winston sits down with his friend and concert pianist, Dame Imogen Cooper, as they discuss Lot 19, as well as the collection as a whole. See the video at the end of article to watch the Pleyel double grand piano being played by Dame Imogen Cooper and Xiaowen Shang from the Royal Academy of Music, London.
These extraordinary pianos are two grand pianos combined in one. The enormous soundboard area makes for an exceptionally resonant instrument and the experience of two pianists playing on a single combined piano is completely different as the entire instrument responds to both players. There is also an intriguing device in which a lever can be engaged to permanently lift the dampers on one of the sides so that one piano provides sympathetic resonance while the other side is being played.
Approximately only 50 of these were made, starting in the 1890s with the last one made ca 1930, and few still exist. Two different sizes were made and this one at 9’6” was the larger of the two.
The present lot is a rare Pleyel double grand piano purchased in 1946 by Madeleine Lioux, the concert pianist wife of the French novelist and politician, Andre Malraux.
This piano was used for a 2010 recreation of the premier for Stravinksly’s Les Noces which was premiered in 1923. There is a very interesting musical connection between Stravinsky and the Pleyel Double Grand pianos. Stravinsky had Pleyel make him one while working on the Concerto for Two Pianos (1935). He premiered the composition on the instrument with his son, Soulima Stravinsky, in 1935. They made a recording of it for Columbia in 1938. Pleyel also fitted one of their double grands with a pianola mechanism. The original piano rolls played by Stravinsky still exist.
Madeleine Lioux was born in Toulouse, in a bourgeois family of industrialists, whose father was a music lover. She entered the class of Marguerite Long at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1928. She won a first prize, began a career as a piano teacher at the Toulouse Conservatory and gave concerts as a soloist.
On 8 January 1943, she married Roland Malraux [fr], a journalist and half-brother of André Malraux. On 21 March 1944, Roland Malraux was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Neuengamme in Germany. He died during the bombardment of the ocean liner Cap Arcona by the RAF off Lübeck Bay on 3 May 1945.
It was during the same year, in 1943, that Madeleine Lioux met André Malraux at her parents’ home and his then companion Josette Clotis. Roland had introduced André Malraux to the head of the Footmann network, George Hiller. After he joined the Resistance under the name of Colonel Berger, André was in turn arrested by the Germans at Gramat on 22 July 1944 but was liberated by a coup de force a month later. On 12 November of the same year, Josette Clotis died and in 1945, and Madeleine Lioux, having returned to Paris and learned of the death of Roland Malraux, then settled with her son Alain, André Malraux and his sons, at 18bis avenue Robert-Schuman in Boulogne-Billancourt in a villa designed by Louis Faure- Dujarric.
Shortly afterwards, Malraux became General de Gaulle’s Minister of Information. In 1946, Madeleine Lioux gave concerts at the La Pléiade art gallery directed by André Malraux. She played Erik Satie, and Benjamin Britten, who was not yet famous. On 13 March 1948, she married André Malraux who had divorced his first wife earlier in 1947.
In 1954, the couple were invited to New York for the inauguration of the new galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They spent their holidays in Italy, visiting Tuscany and Umbria. In January 1959, Malraux became the Prime Minister of Culture of the nascent Fifth Republic and together they travelled extensively for diplomatic visits.
On 7 February 1962, an attack on their home in Boulogne-Billancourt forced the couple to settle down at La Lanterne in Versailles. During a period of great activity when, within the framework of her husband’s ministerial activity, they met key personalities of the time, politicians, artists, scientists including Kennedy, Nehru, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Hirohito, Sartre, Mauriac, Picasso, Chagall, Stravinsky, etc.
In 1966, as their relationship deteriorated, the couple separated, and Madeleine Malraux moved to New York for part of the year where she resumed her concert career. To show his disapproval of this separation for which he held Andre responsible, General de Gaulle offered a gala dinner at the Élysée in honour of Madeleine Malraux.
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Thursday 23 September | 12 noon BST
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
This is a live online auction with an auctioneer.
The sale can be viewed by appointment at the Period Piano Company (not Dreweatts) from Monday 6 September:
Period Piano Company, Park Farm Oast, Frittenden Road, Biddenden, Kent TN27 8LG
To book an appointment, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 44 (0) 1635 553 513.
General enquiries: + 44 (0) 1635 553 553 | email@example.com
Press enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credit: B&W photo of David Winston with Beethoven’s Piano: Courtesy of David Winston
Photo Credit: B&W image of Auto-Pleyela, Salon d M. Sudreau: Revue Pleyel, April 1926
Music: Mozart's Double Piano Sonata in D Major, K448 Second Movement
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