Wanda Landowska (WarsawJuly 5, 1879 – LakevilleAugust 16, 1959) was a Polish harpsichordist and fortepianist who later became Frenchcitizen . It has played an important role in the rediscovery of her instrument.


[hide]*1 Biography


Landowska's father was a lawyer, her mother translated English-language books of Mark Twain in the Polish. Wanda began as four-year-old to playpiano . Her first teacher was Jan Kleczyński, SR.. At the Conservatory in Warsaw (the Fryderyk Chopin music Academy) she had lessons fromAleksander Michałowski. They then studied composition with Heinrich Urban in Berlin.

They married in Paris In 1900 with the Polish folklorist Henri Lew. They immersed themselves in old music and co-wrote the book Musique ancienne(1909). Landowska gave from 1900 to 1912 piano lessons to the Schola Cantorum de Paris, where special attention under the leadership ofVincent d'Indy existed for early music. Her interest was particularly aroused by the possibilities of the harpsichord, on which she gave her firstrecital in 1903.

In 1913 she moved to Berlin and taught harpsichord at the Hochschule für Musik. In that year, Henri Lew to life in a car accident. The homosexualLandowska then had for some time a maid as partner, with the consent of Lew.

Landowska had a great interest in musicology, focus in particular on the Baroque music of composers like Bach, CouperinRameau and Scarlatti.She traveled the museums of Europe in search of authentic keyboardinstruments. She collected old instruments and left to make her insights by the new French Pleyelpiano Builder. The model was taken over by many other builders.

After returning to Paris in 1921 Landowska held a series of six influential public lectures about ancient music at the Sorbonne. She went on to teach at the École Normale de Musique de Paris and founded the École de Musique Ancienne in 1925 on. her home in Saint-Leu-la-Forêt became a Center for the study of early music, where annual summer courses were given. From 1925 to 1928 she was also teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania).

When France in the Second World War was occupied , were her instruments and documents by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg Germanseized and disposed of. They also never receive compensation later. The Jewish Landowska did escape to the United Statesvia Portugal . At the end of 1941 she arrived on Ellis Island, along with her assistant and life partner, the musicologist, organist and harpsichordist and fortepianistDenise Restout (1915-2004). They settled in 1949 in Connecticut, where Landowska was again a central figure in the game and the teachings of harpsichord music. They often went on tour and performed in many American cities. She received an honorary doctorate from the University ofHartford (Connecticut). In 1954 she took in New York farewell to the concert stage. She was then 75 years. She died five years later in her hometown of Lakeville.


Wanda Landowska was a great old harpsichord player, a great connoisseur of early music and an important pioneer, which has virtually forgotten around 1900-harpsichord-know to bring back in the international interest. She was the first harpsichordist which (in 1931) made a record recordingof the Goldberg Variations by Bach, who had great influence on the Bach-interpretation in the twentieth century. She was also the first one during one concert each of the 48 preludia and fuga's from well-tempered Clavier performed in succession and the first in the modern era that the basso continuo-party in the St. Matthew Passion played on a harpsichord.

They not only played Baroque music, but also important new music was written for her, such as Manuel de Falla's El retablo de maese Pedro, hisConcerto for harpsichord, fluteoboeclarinetviolin and cello (both from 1926) and the Concert champêtre of Francis Poulenc (1929).

Her interpretations were not always score faithfully and they hit the prescribed repetitions in the music often about. Present supporters of theauthentic performance practice consider her romantic views as dated. Also the large and heavy Pleyel-tools it showed designs are fallen out of fashion. By their steel construction, designed to reach a large noise , they exhibit any affiliation with a modern grand piano. Harpsichordists now prefer the more intimate sound of faithfulreplica's of harpsichords from the Baroque period. Yet they still admired and honored for her pioneering work for the harpsichord, her passionate game and her belief in the old music that they brought back to life.


  • When the famous cellist Pablo Casals criticised Landowska's Bach interpretations, she would have answered: "you play Bach on your way, I play him on his way".
  • crater on Venus is named to Wanda Landowska.


  • Wanda Landowska in collaboration with Henri Lew-Landowski: Musique ancienne: Le mépris pour les anciens — La force de la sonorité — Le style — L ' interprétation — Les virtuoses — Les Mécènes et la Musique. M. Senart, Paris, 1909.
  • Denise Restout (ed.): Landowska on music. Stein & Day, New York, 1964. Also includes an English translation of Musique ancienne.

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