Your Excellency Ambassador Orlowski, Madam Ambassador, Dear Mrs Orlowska, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

I am very honoured to be received here, at the Residence of the Polish Ambassador, for this concert in tribute to Wanda Landowska. In the extremely rich history of cultural relations between France and Poland, there are many exceptional personalities, especially in the musical field.

I visited with you a few days ago, Mr. Ambassador, in Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, where I took note of the very strong involvement of the Association for the Safeguarding of the Wanda Landowska Auditorium, as well as of the Polish Institute, to highlight this unique heritage represented by the building built by the artist.

For 17 years, from 1927 to 1940, the Polish artist hosted her school of Early Music there, where she multiplied recordings and concerts. A place where we rediscovered, exhumed under his hands, the integral Goldberg Variations. A place that saw the birth of the modern harpsichord, where Francis Poulenc composed and created the Concert champêtre.

Today, baroque music ensembles are flourishing; the harpsichord repertoire has been fully restored, the profession of harpsichord factor has returned to the stage. Tonight is an opportunity to remember all that Wanda Landowska owes to the rediscovery of the repertoire of the 16th and 17th centuries and the revolution in the interpretation of early music, which accelerated shortly after her death 52 years ago.

For it took an extraordinary force of conviction to resurrect an instrument buried in the limbo of the history of music, to which it devotes a first recital in 1903; to succeed in convincing Tolstoy, who had received it, from the riches of the instrument before the domination of the piano; to go preaching this new word until Eisenach, the birthplace of the Cantor of Leipzig, where the specialists of Bach’s work were not necessarily convinced of the relevance of a return to ancient instruments; to record to the end, In Saint-Leu, as the batteries of the D.C.A. attempt to hinder the approach of the forces of Nazi Germany, Scarlatti’s sonatas – of which his pupil Ralph Kirkpatrick will later draw up the catalogue raisonné.

Initially, there is the story of a conviction: the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach was written for the harpsichord.  A revelation for a pianist of training: not a craze for «scrap metal» or for the pin pianos, nor a fetishism emperruqué for the old, but an awareness of the potential of games, articulations, radically different ornamentations that conceal the non dynamic keyboards. The composers close to Wanda Landowska, as well as Falla and Poulenc, were not mistaken, bringing the instrument back to contemporary creation – as far as Maurice Ohana or György Ligeti, whose works Elisabeth Chojnacka knows particularly well for having devoted remarkable recordings to them.

Tradition and modernity, Bauhaus and harpsichord: in Saint-Leu, Wanda Landowska, during the interwar period, before taking the road to Banyuls and the United States, showed that another Europe was possible. I am pleased to be at your side, Mr Ambassador, for this tribute you pay him tonight.

Thank you.