The Emmy and Egon Wellesz Piano

History

  • Location until 1938: Kaasgraben artists’ colony (Kaasgraben 36-38 in Vienna’s 19th district, built by Josef Hoffmann) 
  • July 1938: emigration to Oxford with daughters Magda (1909-2006) and Elisabeth (1912-1995); Egon Wellesz is appointed to a professorship in Oxford
  • Sale of the piano to Les Thompson, music teacher and student of Egon Wellesz. The relationship with Les Thompson was very close – Emmy told his wife, Marjorie, that she and Egon saw in Les the son they never had. Following his stroke, Egon would only see Emmy and Les, while Egon and Les even still sang operas together (Egon could no longer speak but was still able to sing)
  • Rachel Thompson, the daughter of Les, brought the piano to London to be auctioned by Piano Auctions Ltd. on 7 April 2016
  • Tipped off about the sale by Tanya Tintner, Gerold Gruber appeals to Rachel Thompson to sell the piano to the mdw rather than auction it – which ultimately results in the piano being removed from the auction
  • March 2016: the exil.arte Center of the mdw buys the piano
  • June 2016: G&R Removals transports the instrument back to Vienna
  • February 2017: the piano is restored by Gert Hecher
  • May 2017: the Wellesz piano is presented for the first time as part of the exhibition “I return to Vienna when I compose” at the mdw’s exil.arte Center

Further Information

Emmy Wellesz, née Stross 
(1889, Vienna – 1987, Vienna)
Art historian specialized in Byzantine studies, 
doctorate awarded in 1921

Egon Wellesz
(1885, Vienna – 1974, Oxford)
Composer and musicologist, specialized in 
early music, new music, byzantine neumes, 
doctorate awarded in 1908

Bösendorfer grand piano 
(225 cm) “Mahogany Model 4” 
built November 1908 – February 1909
sales number 18913 (serial number 10081). 

Bought as a “wedding present” by Emmy’s father, Councilor of Commerce Ludwig Stross, of Ebendorferstrasse 8 in Vienna’s 1st district.

The piano