The Yaniewicz & Co. Apollo Lyre Guitar
In addition to the Yaniewicz & Green square piano, another
instrument from Yaniewicz's Liverpool period in the early
1800s has come to light, in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum
in Exeter: a beautiful lyre guitar surmounted by the golden
head of Apollo in a sunburst. Worked into the decorative border
featuring neoclassical motifs is the label 'Yaniewicz & Co'
with the address of his premises in Lord Street, Liverpool.
Like the Yaniewicz & Green square piano, it is likely that the
lyre guitar was made by Clementi, since it bears a notable
similarity to two others by Clementi from the same period,
one in the collection of Dean Castle and the other at the
Royal Northern College of Music.
In December 2021 the museum's conservator will assess the
instrument's condition with a view to lending it for display
as part of the exhibition at the Georgian House in 2022.
New recording of Yaniewicz's Elegie
Slovenian violinist Maja Horvat has made a new recording of Yaniewicz's Elegie for this project, which you can listen to here. Having studied as a postgraduate at the Royal College of Music in London, Maja leads the Brompton Quartet, and has worked with teachers including Maxim Vengerov and Alina Ibragimova. Among an impressive array of prizes in her career, she was recently winner of the special Szymanowski award at the 1st International Karol Szymanowski competition in Katowice, Poland.
On the trail of the lost Stradivarius
In February 2021, The Strad magazine published a letter seeking information on the whereabouts of Yaniewicz’s lost Stradivarius. It was last heard of in 1925, when his grandson recorded the fate of the two valuable instruments originally kept in Yaniewicz’s beautiful inlaid double violin case, now in the collection of St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh:
‘His Strad he sold for £60, about 1845. See his own letter on the subject… This violin was (so says the violin-expert A Hill of Bond Street – who knows it well) a celebrated instrument, and is now in the possession of a New York collector, well known to Hill. His Amati was raffled for, and produced, 40 guineas!’
Since Hills’ archive is without an index and has yet to yield any information, it remains to be seen whether this latest call will produce the vital clue.
British Music Society feature on Yaniewicz as musical migrant
To mark the start of 2021, the British Music Society has published Music and Migration in Georgian Britain: The Story of Feliks Yaniewicz | British Music Society by Yaniewicz’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter. The article argues for a cosmopolitan view of British music shaped by influences from the continent, highlighting the contribution of migrants such as Yaniewicz who found in Britain a safe haven in politically turbulent times.
After his early career took him from Vilnius to Vienna, Italy and then Paris, Yaniewicz fled the French Revolution, and with the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth disintegrating, he sought refuge in Britain. Here he rose to fame as a performer, composer and impresario, thanks to his musical charisma and entrepreneurial flair. In 1815, while the endgame of the Napoleonic Wars played out on the battlefields of Europe, Yaniewicz moved north and founded the first music festival in Edinburgh, where he would spend the rest of his life.