The romantic piano is called to the same approach as the baroque interpretation once did

The association La Nouvelle Athènes will make it possible to promote among pianists and a wider public a "historically informed interpretation that is too rarely heard in concert, accessible essentially on recordings and reserved for the moment for a few privileged performers and music lovers...

Networking and sharing of material resources (collection of period pianos), skills and artistic affinities is in the air today.

– Benoit Desouches, mélomane, Ami de Royaumont

Pianists, harpsichordists, restorers and music lovers join forces to build a collection of period pianos in Paris...

Here are the motivations and testimonies of : 

  • Alain Planès 
  • Edoardo Torbianelli
  • Aurélien Delage
  • Christopher Clarke
  • Sylvie Fouanon
  • Laura Fernandez Granero
  • Alexander March
  • Shani Diluka
  • Arnaud Merlin
  • Flore Merlin
  • Benoît Desouches
  • Sylvie Brély…

- Support the association and its project to restore the Erard 1806 square piano.

We - Les Nouveaux Athéniens - want to save the last survivors, to bring them back to life and make them available to pianists.

The pianoforte, the missing but indispensable link between the harpsichord and the modern piano, has almost disappeared in favor of the ever louder.

—  Alain Planès, pianiste concertiste, professeur au CNSMD de Paris

Renewing the piano culture

Rediscoverin depth knowledge of the great keyboard tradition of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, not only through the use of period instruments but also through a deep understanding of the language, aesthetics and playing techniques of the past.

- Edoardo Torbianelli, pianist on period pianos, professor at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, in residence at the Fondation Royaumont

To bring together in Paris the desires of passionate people.

The sound world of antique pianos is absolutely fascinating...

Yet in Paris - a great historical center of piano making in the 19th century, in spite of beautiful initiatives (Musée de la Musique, Sorbonne, Conservatories, Fondation Royaumont),

it remains to constitute a group bringing together pianists, collectors and restorers

- Aurélien Delage, keyboardist, president of Clavecin en France

An agora, a space for exchange between researchers in the fields of musical construction and practice.

In the plastic arts, it is both the material and the tool that, in the artist's hand, shape the work.

For music, material and tool are one entity: the instrument. The essence of a musical composition can only be found fully by providing the means of its creation.

The making of the instrument-tool depends on gestures and artisanal knowledge that must be rediscovered in a rigorous and honest exploration of instrument making and practice.

- Christopher Clarke, Instrument maker. Master of Art, Winner of the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation's Pour l'intelligence de la main 2000

To transmit, through a know-how of excellence, to the young generations these forgotten sound aesthetics, this opening to the musical difference that the old pianos bring.

The restoration of old pianos requires a lot of work before the magic of the sounds of yesteryear can work under the fingers of pianists.

Few people really realize the magnitude of the conservator's task and the extent of the skills involved in preserving these often priceless witnesses to the great era of European craftsmanship.

La Nouvelle Athènes gathers this impulse of hands and hearts by the meeting between the craftsmen and the musicians, in the tolerance of each one and the love of the beautiful work...

—  Sylvie Fouanon. Piano restorer.  Expert at the Court of Appeal of Paris.Director of Pianos Balleron, in Paris since 1902, Label Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant, 2008

Ask ourselves what is going on in the "other

"Papa listened more" replied Chouchou to Alfred Cortot after listening to the 24 Preludes by Debussy. 

Listening more carefully and coexisting with this silence, this is what these period pianos can teach us.

Staying flexible, adapting all the time and at the same time rooting yourself metaphorically in yourself to overcome your difficulties.

- Laura Fernandez Granero, Laureate of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and the Royaumont Foundation

To play, restore and share my collection of French romantic pianos.

I have been in love with the sounds of old pianos since I listened, as a teenager, to a radio interview with Paul Badura-Skoda. I am sensitive to the beauty of the pianoforte object because I used to work with a marvellous Boisselot with tulip legs and marquetry in rosewood, rosewood and brass and pewter fillets in my father's workshop.

- Alexander March, collector of French romantic pianos

An indispensable platform for any artist in search of knowledge

The exploration of a repertoire, of a work, of an era requires from the interpreter a perpetual questioning in order to render at its true value the authenticity of a text, the palpable emotion of a sound through a touch linked to the aesthetics of an era or of a thought...

In this research, the access to period pianos is essential, but there are few possibilities in France... The platform of La Nouvelle Athènes thus allows a precious transmission between musicians, restorers and the public.

—  Shani Diluka, pianiste soliste

Practice on period pianos is necessary in the complex ecosystem of music production.

The time of the pioneers of the so-called "historically informed interpretation" seems long gone. Several generations of composers, researchers, musicians and programmers have developed this notion, enriched it, expanded it, and explained it to a public that is often passionate and on the lookout for discoveries or rediscoveries of an unjustly forgotten part of music history.

And yet, however virtuous it may be, this chain is cruelly lacking today in an indispensable link: the availability of "romantic" pianos in playing condition and in sufficient number for the period 1750-1850...

I fervently support La Nouvelle Athènes initiative.

— Arnaud Merlin, producteur à France Musique

These period instruments are wonderful guides

The sound aesthetics and technical characteristics of these instruments (articulation, sonority of the different registers of the ambitus, pedals, vitality of the sound, touch...) make possible a rhetorical discourse of a redoubled clarity and of an extremely varied and colored expressiveness.

- Flore Merlin, pianist, chamber musician, conductor, laureate of the CNSMDP, Sibelius Academy, Royaumont Foundation

To create a place for dialogue, a resource for the piano community and the public.

Within the framework of the Claviers program of the Royaumont Foundation, I have been organizing training workshops, residencies and concerts on period pianos for the past six years.

More than 180 pianists have been introduced to the richness of timbre, stylistic and technical approach of the Romantic piano, but once they leave Royaumont or their conservatories, they cannot deepen their research, because there are very few instruments available in Paris.

La Nouvelle Athènes federates a community of pianists, restorers and collectors in order to collect the funds necessary for the constitution of a collection of general interest covering the French, English and Viennese bills from 1750 to 1850... an immense and necessary challenge

—  Sylvie Brély, director of the Keyboards program of the Royaumont Foundation, founder of the Nouvelle Athènes