The Mirpuri Foundation sponsored the restoration of a Claviharp, a rare musical instrument patented by Christian Dietz in 1814.

This hybrid musical instrument has an upright piano-shaped base and a harp-shaped top. The restored Claviharp was presented at Queluz National Palace, in a magnificent performance by pianist Paulo Oliveira and violinist Juan Carlos Maggiorani. The Mirpuri Foundation and the Portuguese National Museum of Music entered into a patronage protocol that focuses on the preservation of instruments that are classified as national treasures.

As part of the Performing Arts Program and recognising the need and importance of preserving cultural heritage, the Mirpuri Foundation sponsored the restoration of a Claviharp, a rare musical instrument patented by Christian Dietz in 1814.

This hybrid musical instrument has an upright piano-shaped base and a harp-shaped top. It features a keyboard similar to a piano, but the sound reproduction is made using a mechanism that acts on the plucked strings as if simulating the touch of the musician’s fingers. The strings are made of brass and steel coated with natural silk.

For about four years, the restoration was carried out in several phases: cleaning and consolidation of the structure and decoration of the instrument, repair of cracks in the harmonic top, repair of the veneered wood coating, polishing treatment with shellac and the decorative motifs of the base and capital of the column in gold leaf. This was followed by repairing the mechanics, having recovered the entire harmonic structure and mechanism of the instrument. Particular care was taken in the selection of materials and the treatment of source materials. For stringing, new brass strings were made for the bass and steel strings for the rest, wrapped in natural silk thread. The pedals, one to trigger the dampers and the other for changing the bass register.

The restoration of this magnificent piece involved a multidisciplinary team of keyboard instrument builders, conservation and restoration technicians, and specialists in wood, leather, and metals. It was conducted by restorer builder Geert Karman who coordinated the entire process, together with restorer John Léchaud, and restorer Pedro Santos who relied on the opinions of Belgian expert Pierre Gevaert from the Museum of Musical Instruments in Brussels, and scholar Nelson Vigneault and Clavier researcher, Vera de Bruyn-Outboter from the Museum of Music in Ringve, Norway.

Mirpuri Foundation and the Portuguese National Museum of Music entered into a patronage protocol that aims to embody a program of collaboration between the parties, to develop activities within the scope of their attributions and missions and focus on the preservation of the magnificent collection of music, which includes several instruments are classified as national treasures.

 

About the Claviharp

By Graça Mendes Pinto L.
(Former Director of the National Museum of Music)

The collection of instruments of the National Museum of Music, which owes its initial core to the careful choices made by musicologist, researcher and collector Michel Angelo Lambertini (1862-1920), and painter, composer and collector Alfredo Keil (1850-1907), gathers rare and varied specimens that continue to arouse great interest and make fruitful discoveries possible even today. This is the case of this musical instrument, a claviharp patented by Johann Christian Dietz in 1814.

This hybrid musical instrument has a base shaped like an upright piano and a top shaped like a harp. It has a keyboard similar to a piano, with the exception that the sound reproduction is not made through striking the string, but through strumming it, using a mechanism that acts on the reeds by pinching them and thus simulating the touch of the musician’s fingers. The strings are made of brass and steel and covered with natural silk. For the invention of this instrument, which would continue to be manufactured in Paris by his son and grandson, Dietz won a silver medal at the 1827 Paris exhibition.

As a result of historical vicissitudes, prior to the installation of the museum in Alto dos Moinhos in 1994, and despite numerous successful restoration interventions, the state of conservation of much of the collection of the National Museum of Music still requires particular attention today. With the pressing objective of recovering this collection, the museum brings together multidisciplinary teams that carry out exhaustive and complex research and investigation work, all together seeking to achieve the total recovery of the musical instrument, which includes its initial function of sound production. This was the case with the Claviharp in our museum, a hybrid instrument in a rare combination of two instruments. This specimen is built in ebony-bevelled solid wood and shows a decoration engraved by incisions with vegetal motifs and the representation of two griffins, a fantastic animal, which curiously has a hybrid nature, just like the instrument.

The restoration was initiated and developed in several stages: cleaning and consolidating the structure and decoration of the instrument, repairing the cracks in the soundboard, repairing the beaded wood covering and treating the lacquer polishing and the decorative motifs of the base and column head in gold leaf. This was followed by the repair of the mechanics, with the entire harmonic structure and the instrument’s mechanism being restored. Special care was taken in the selection of materials and in the treatment of the original materials. For the strings, new brass strings were made for the bass and steel for the rest, wrapped in natural silk thread. The pedals were reproduced from a model of an identical instrument from the Brussels Museé des Instruments de musique. One of the pedals operates the mufflers and the other is alters the register for a change in the sound of the bass.

The restoration was also carried out by a multidisciplinary team of key musical instrument builders, conservation and restoration technicians, wood, leather and metal specialists, entrusted to the restorer builder Geert Karman who coordinated the entire process and  with the collaboration of the piano restorer John Léchaud, the curator and restorer Pedro Santos and with the addition of opinions from the Belgian expert Pierre Gevaert from the Brussels Museé des Instruments de musique, Nelson Vignault a claviharp scholar and researcher and Vera de Bruyn-Outboter from the Ringve Music Museum, Norway.  To all the National Museum of Music is grateful.

Recovering the beauty of this rare historical instrument and giving back its sound is now possible thanks to the generosity of the Mirpuri Foundation.

 

Restoration Process

 

Presentation Program

July 7th, Queluz National Palace, Portugal

Paulo Oliveira, Claviharp
Juan Maggiorani, Violin

E. SatieGymnopédie nº 1

F. LisztConsolação nº 3, em Ré bemol maior

J. S. BachAdagio BWV 974

F. SchubertStändchen, D. 957, nº 4

Speeches by Paulo Mirpuri, President of the Mirpuri Foundation and Edward Ayres de Abreu, Director of the National Museum of Music.

The Artists

Paulo Oliveira – Claviharp

Born in 1979 in Vila do Conde (Portugal), Paulo Oliveira is one of the most sought-after Portuguese pianists of his generation. He began his musical studies at the age of nine with Joaquim Bento. He then entered the Academia de Música de São Pio X with a Dr. Elias de Aguiar Foundation grant. In this school he studied with Margarida Almeida and Felipe Silvestre and graduated with honors in 1998. He later studied with Tania Achot, completing his Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano Performance at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa.

Paulo Oliveira continued his studies with Sequeira Costa at the University of Kansas, with whom he studied for nearly a decade, thus benefitting from the knowledge his master received directly from Vianna da Motta, Mark Hamburg, Edwin Fischer, Marguerite Long and Jacques Février. He finished his Master’s degree in 2005, with a scholarship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Later, in 2009, he concluded his Doctor of Musical Arts with honors with the sponsorship of the Portuguese government – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

Among his most relevant teachers and mentors were Helena Sá e Costa, Luiz de Moura Castro, Andrei Diev, Vladimir Viardo, Vitaly Margulis, Aldo Ciccolini, Paul Badura-Skoda and Dmitri Bashkirov.

Paulo Oliveira has been awarded several prizes in national and international competitions, including the Vianna da Motta International Piano Competition, the 1st prize at the Bártok-Kabalevsky-Prokofiev International Piano Competition, the 2nd prize at the Estoril Competition|El Corte Inglés Prize and the 1st prize at the 2010 Young Artists Festival|Chopin Prize organized by the Metropolitan Orchestra of Lisbon. He was also the winner of the Kansas University Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. His duo with cellist Teresa Valente Pereira was awarded after a recital in Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana.

Paulo Oliveira has performed solo, chamber and orchestral concerts in many European countries as well as in North and South America and has recorded for RPD Antena 2, Radio France and Catalunya Radio. He appeared as a soloist with the Kansas University Symphony Orchestra, the Espinho Classical Orchestra, Algarve Orchestra, North Orchestra, Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra, and the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra, collaborating with such conductors as Nicholas Uljanov, Steven McDonald, Pedro Neves, Jean-Marc Burfin, Ferreira Lobo, Cesário Costa, and Daniel Klajner.

Paulo combines his concert career with a dedicated teaching activity. He taught at Lisbon’s National Conservatory and at the Piaget Institute. He is currently a faculty member of the Santa Cecília Music Academy and of the National Academy of Advanced Orchestral Studies | Metropolitana, both in Lisbon. He has been a judge at several national and international piano competitions, and he is regularly invited to give master classes.

Paulo Oliveira is a board member of the European Piano Teachers Association – EPTA Portugal.

His latest CD Iberian Impressions, released by Odradek Records, received a Global Music Award in the USA, in the Classical Piano category.

Juan Carlos Maggiorani – Violin

Juan Carlos Maggiorani, a violinist from Venezuela, is Artistic Director at Orquestra Geração,a Sistema programme in Portugal.Juan Maggiorani has been part of the “Orquestra Geração” Project since 2007, teachingviolin, sectionals and orchestra. Juan was awarded 1st prize at the chamber music division ofthe “Prémio Jovens Músicos” competiton in Lisbon, 1st prize at the “VI Certámen de Musicade Cámara Rotary Club” in Santander (Spain), as well as the special prize for best Mozart interpretation and was given the prize for best quartet at the Escuela Superior de MúsicaReina Sofia by Quenn Sophie of Spain.

Juan is a founding member of the Matosinhos String Quartet, resident at the MatosinhosCity Hall since 2007, awarded 2nd prize at the “I Concurso Internacional de Música deCâmara Cidade de Alcobaça”, the city council of Matosinhos awarded to Matosinhos stringquartet the golden merit medal in 2015, selected as a Rising Star by the European ConcertHall Organization in the 2014/2015 season. He thus toured some of the most important European concert halls, such as the Barbican Centre, Concertgebouw, Musikverein, Megaron, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Kölner Philharmonie,Konzerthaus Dortmund, Palau de la Música Catalana, Town Hall & Symphony Hall -Birmingham, Bozar, Palace of Arts Budapest. Acclaimed as a “singular case of excellence in the Portuguese musical scene” (Diana Ferreira, Público, 2010).In 2020 matosinhos string quartet is selected to do a concert tour in Russia, Filandia, Slovenia, Italy and Spain.

Juan began his studies in Venezuela at Emil Friedman School, continued at Simón BolívarConservatory and at the Latinoamericana violin Academy, had orchestral studies at the Núcleo de Rinconada of the “El Sistema”, travels to Europe and he made his undergraduate musical studies at the National Superior Academy of Orchestra of Lisbon, the Reina SofiaSchool of Music of Madrid with professor Zakhar Bron, and the International Institute ofChamber Music with Professor Rainer Schmidt. In 2012, he completed his Master’s degree in Performance and Education at the EscolaSuperior de Música de Lisboa and in 2016 obtained the title of violin specialist for the Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco.

As an educator and conductor, he collaborated in several projects, such as the XiquitsiProject (Mozambique), Superar Suisse (Zurich), Orquestra Young Leaders Program (UnitedKingdom), National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain NCO, Jovem Orquestra de Figueres(Catalunya), Acción Social por la Música (Madrid), Dalanota (Madrid), El Sistema Sweden(Gothenburg), El Sistema Opéra Mediterranée (Nice), Sistema Cyprus, opening concert at the Luzerne Festival (Switzerland), young orchestra Sinfonia por el Perú (Salzburg), summer camps of the youth orchestra Sistema Europa (SEYO) in Vienna, Istanbul, Milan, Greece,

Birmingham, London and Madrid, Academy for Impact through music AIM (Salzburg and Lisbon), MusicEnsemble (Geneva) and in the artistic residency of Sinfonia por el Perú(Cusco-Perú). Between 2016 and 2021 Juan Maggiorani was a member of the board of Sistema Europa. In 2022 he started working at the Gulbenkian Orchestra.

 

 

Restoration photo credits: Pedro Santos and DGPC/Arlindo Homem