Antique Forte Piano Makes a Modern Debut in Milwaukee

Jan 25, 2013

Normally, we hear classical piano music played on a modern instrument. But back at the height of classical composition, everyone from Mozart and Mendelssohn to Beethoven and Brahms played and composed upon the “forte piano."

Piano-forte of Anton Walter (Vienna, circa 1810).
Credit Gérard Janot

Milwaukee is home to an amazing collection of these instruments, thanks to the efforts of Father Robert Novotny. When he was no longer able to care for the 28 instruments, Stewart Dempsey, co-owner of Samara Garden and Home, a furnishings boutique, bought them.

His aim was to preserve the important collection of unique and near-unique instruments. Most are not playable, but one has been restored and will have its modern debut this Sunday at Samara. Local pianist Richard Carsey will perform, along with Scott Cook on cello.

Carsey and Dempsey spoke with Lake Effect’s Bonnie North in the salon where the concert will take place, and Carsey explains the appeal of playing a classic instrument like this.

The concert of late classical and early romantic music for cello and forte piano begins Sunday at 2 PM.