Tuesday 3 May at 7.00pm at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh

The Violin Consort 
Zbigniew Pilch, violin I
Radoslaw Kamieniarz, violin II
Piotor Chrupek, viola
Bartosz Kokosza, cello


This special concert for Polish Constitution Day marks the beginning of a programme of events in 2022 celebrating the Polish-Lithuanian violinist and composer Felix Yaniewicz for his role in founding the first Edinburgh music festival in 1815.  The events will culminate in an exhibition on his life and musical legacy opening at the Georgian House in June, and three concerts by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in December.

The programme includes rarely-performed works – excerpts from Yaniewicz’s Violin Concertos Nos 3 and 5 transcribed for string quartet, two Divertimenti, and his string Trio in e minor, performed by The Violin Consort, an ensemble founded by four friends who are also the best Polish musicians specializing in historical music. The name of the ensemble refers to the 16th-century practice of creating families of homogeneous instruments called consortas.

Zbigniew Pilch, first violinist with The Violin Consort, is the foremost living interpreter of Yaniewicz’s music, and has recorded two of his violin concertos with the Warsaw Baroque Orchestra.  In this concert he brings his string quartet to Edinburgh, to perform a selection of Yaniewicz’s string trios, divertimenti, and chamber arrangements of movements from two of the violin concertos, for which Yaniewicz was most famous in his day.  Yaniewicz’s sparkling compositions are evocative of his cosmopolitan career, combining a recognizably Mozartian style from his Viennese period with the joyful exuberance of Polish folk dances from his homeland.

This concert is generously supported by the Polish Consulate, and will be used to raise funds for Ukraine.  Poland stands with Ukraine at this time of crisis in Europe.  We come together in solidarity, in an evening of music which bears witness to the lasting historical impact of migration on European culture.

The Yaniewicz project celebrates the vital role of migration in Scottish cultural heritage, through the story of a migrant musician who arrived on these shores as a refugee from the French Revolution, against a background of political upheaval in his native land in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth.

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An early 19th-century square piano, signed by Felix Yaniewicz, musician and co-founder of the first Edinburgh Music Festival, has been restored and is now at its new, permanent home at the Polish Ex-Combatants House on Drummond Place in Edinburgh, just around the corner from Great King Street, where Felix Yaniewicz lived until his death.

Dating from 1810, the ’Yaniewicz & Green’ square piano dates arrived in Edinburgh last November following its restoration and a crowdfunding campaign by The Friends of Felix Yaniewicz in partnership with the Scottish Polish Cultural Association. It was discovered in a dilapidated condition in a private house in Snowdonia 20 years ago, by the early keyboard expert Douglas Hollick, who bought the piano and restored it to its former glory.  Two years ago, by chance, the advertisement for the newly restored piano was spotted by a descendant of Yaniewicz’s, Josie Dixon.

Two concerts celebrated the piano’s arrival in Edinburgh – one on 12th November by Steven Devine, who played a programme setting Yaniewicz’s music in the context of contemporaries with whom he was associated in different ways: Haydn, Mozart, Dussek, Clementi and Beethoven. Steven Devine praised the instrument for the variety of tonal colours that give it a very distinctive voicing in different ranges – quite unlike the homogenous sound of a modern piano.

The second concert, by Pawel Siwczak, an all-Polish programme with music from Yaniewicz to Chopin, who just missed Yaniewicz in Edinburgh in 1848: Yaniewicz died in May of that year and Chopin visited in the autumn.

Square pianos have become a rarity despite their central place in domestic music-making in the 18th and 19th centuries. This gem of an instrument is wonderful and interesting for two reasons: musically beautiful and in incredible condition following an expert and loving restoration, and also historically fascinating due to the connection with this important composer” – Steven Devine, principal keyboard player, Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment

The piano will be on display to the public at the 2022 exhibition at The Georgian House, Edinburgh, entitled Music and Migration in Georgian Edinburgh: The Story of Felix Yaniewicz, from 25th June until October 2022.  The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of related events, including writer Armando Iannucci in conversation with Josie Dixon on music, migration and Scotland, concerts by Kate Semens (soprano) and Steven Devine (piano), and a musical “show and tell” exploring historic instruments and the fascinating stories behind them.

More information

The Friends of Felix Yaniewicz are raising £6,000 to rescue a unique and historic instrument associated with the composer Felix Yaniewicz, and bring it to Edinburgh to celebrate his musical legacy. Yaniewicz was a Polish-Scottish violinist, composer and co-founder of the first Edinburgh music festival in 1815.

Two decades ago, a square piano dating from around 1810 came to light in a private house in Snowdonia.  Despite its dilapidated condition, it was recognised as an instrument of historical interest by Douglas Hollick, who bought it for restoration and embarked on a research project to discover more about its provenance and the link to Yaniewicz.

Above the keyboard, a cartouche with painted flowers and musical instruments bears the label ‘Yaniewicz and Green’ with the addresses of premises in fashionable areas of London and Liverpool.

Inside the piano, a signature in Indian ink has been matched with those on the marriage certificate and surviving letters of Felix Yaniewicz (1762-1848).