Anton Walter was one of the most famous Viennese piano builders in Mozart’s day. Much lighter, shorter and smaller than modern pianos — two octaves shorter, as a matter of fact — the Walter piano owned by Mozart is preserved in Salzburg, where it naturally belongs. But if Mozart’s piano won’t come to musicologist Robert Levin, then Levin goes to Mozart’s piano, which is precisely what he did, as soon as he was appointed the first Hogwood Fellow of the Academy of Ancient Music.
The piano, which Mozart used for both performing and composing, has given Levin a unique perspective on the Austrian genius. In an interview with Classic FM, Levin explained:
“So sitting down at Mozart’s piano, sitting down at an organ which Bach played himself, you understand things about the weight of the keys going down and the repetition and the balance in sound. And all of these things bring you very, very close to the music and make you say ‘A-ha, that’s why it’s written that way,’ which is not the kind of thing you’re going to get if you’re playing on the standard instruments that are being manufactured today.”
If you want to see Classic FM’s original footage of Levin playing Mozart’s piano, click here.