The history of the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Orfeó Català is written with exceptional documents: testimonies concerning the figures that were there at its founding; documents showing the connections that the Palau de la Música Catalana established with contemporary composers, or with noted soloists, such as Wanda Landowska and Blanche Selva; and finally, concert programmes and iconographic documents.
Wanda Landowska. De petits couturiers cheminaient: chant populaire polonais transcrit pour choeur mixte. [ca. 1909]. Autograph Music Manuscript. Choral score, 6 f. (32 x 25 cm)
Even now, the name Wanda Landowska (Warsaw, 5 July 1879 – Lakeville, 16 August 1959) symbolises the revival of early music in the 20th century, particularly on the centennial of the publication of her work, published under the eloquent title of Musique ancienne: le mépris pour les anciens, la force de la sonorité, le style, l'interprétation, les virtuoses, les mécènes et la musique (1909). After completing her musical studies in Warsaw (piano with J. Kleczynski and A. Michalowski) and Berlin (composition with H. Urban), Landowska arrived in Paris in 1900. At that time the movement in favour of music of the past was experiencing a period of great vitality thanks to concert societies as well editorial projects such as the publication of the works of Rameau. With the director of the company Pleyel, Gustave Lyon, and from the study of old harpsichords, she developed, in 1912, the instrument that would accompany her on all of her international tours. From 1913 to 1919, she devoted herself to teaching in Berlin. Following the accidental death of her husband, Henri Lew, in 1919, she taught interpretation classes in Basel and Barcelona. In 1926, she founded a music academy in France (in Saint-Leu-la-Forêt), where she would teach several generations of first-class harpsichordists, such as Ruggero Gerlin. During the 1920s, she premiered the first great works for harpsichord of the 20th century: the Concerto pour clavecin et cinq instruments by Manuel de Falla (5 November 1926) and the Concert champêtre by Francis Poulenc (3 May 1929). Landowska remained deeply attached to Polish music, playing Chopin mazurkas on the harpsichord, and, in 1951, dedicating a tribute record to Paderewski.