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Musical sleuth tracks down Chopin piano

A Swiss musical scholar has rediscovered the grand piano Frederic Chopin took on his last concert tour nearly 160 years ago.

A Swiss musical scholar has rediscovered the grand piano Frederic Chopin took on his last concert tour nearly 160 years ago.

Prof. Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger traced the instrument to an English country home by researching the ledgers of Camille Pleyel, the Frenchman who built it for the Polish pianist and composer. Eigeldinger was able to identifythe piano by its serial number.

Chopin, whohad moved to Paris in 1831, left for London in 1848, fleeing revolutionary France and bringing with him a Pleyel piano made two years earlier.

Chopin liked the sound of the piano, once claiming: "Pleyel pianos are the last word in perfection."

It was the second Pleyel he had shipped to Britain, having sent one in 1838 when he was romantically involved with the novelist George Sand.

He used it in 1848 for a concert tourof England and Scotland and, before returning to Paris, sold it to an English aristocrat called Lady Trotter.

The concert tour turned out to be his last: He died in Paris in October.

Sent to auction

The piano, bequeathed to one of Trotter's relatives, ended up in a country mansion before being sent to auction.

British collector Alec Cobbe bought the piano 20 years ago for £2,000 ($4,560 Cdn)from an antiques dealer.

"It came as a bolt from the blue," Cobbe told Reuters after learning the piano is a piece of musical history.

"I had absolutely no idea we had a world monument of Western music."

Chopin's piano is part of the Cobbe collection of musical instruments on display at Hatchlands, a country house featuring instruments owned or played by famous musiciansincluding Purcell, Bach, Mozart and Mahler. Hatchlands is owned by the National Trust.