The piano owned by wartime pianist Dame Myra Hess will be played as part of a series of concerts at the Bishopsgate Institute, starting with a celebration of the work of female composers.
Dame Myra played concerts at the National Gallery during the Second World War to raise morale after the government closed London’s music halls, theatres, galleries and museums to avoid mass casualties in case of bombing raids.
Her preferred piano was a Rosewood Model D Steinway Grand from 1927, which was donated to the Institute after her death in 1966.
The 90-year-old piano was recently restored by experts in Hamburg and London, and will feature in the new concert series ‘My Myra’ at the Grade II listed hall, situated near Liverpool Street Station.
Finnish music director Martin Segerstråle will begin a programme of work by female composers on May 23. It will celebrate the work of pioneering, but often-overlooked female composers Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, Clara Schumann and Amy Beach.
“Back in the day (nineteenth century, in this case), women were at times discouraged from composing; because it wasn't appropriate, because it was a thing that men did and not women, probably (obviously) because the men of those times felt threatened by women entering "their realm" - so being able to perform this music, and to perform it in this context, on an instrument owned and played by arguably one of the greatest names in English piano music, is such a privilege and it feels very special,” said Segerstråle.
“The piano in itself is a thing of beauty; seldom have I experienced such depth of sound in the bass combined with such clarity in the higher registers, and the instrument bends to any style - one can basically play anything on it and it sounds fabulous,” he added.
The concert series marks a relaunch of the Institute as a space to enjoy live music. The summer ‘My Myra’ series will be followed by a programme of lunchtime concerts in the autumn.
To book tickets visit: bishopsgate.org