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The Landowska Collection of Musical Instruments



Wanda Landowska (18791959) studied piano and composition in Warsaw and Berlin. During the early twentieth century, when harpsichords had all but disappeared, Landowska conducted intensive research on keyboard instruments, buying up old ones and resurrecting them. She assembled a large collection of rare musical instruments over the years and became a key figure in the revival of historical performance practices.

In early July 1940 German troops closed in on Paris, where she had lived and worked since 1925. Landowska fled to unoccupied France but had to leave her collection of instruments and her comprehensive music library behind. The "Special Task Force for Music", a unit under the "Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg" (ERR), looted her property in September 1940 and shipped the collection to Berlin. Landowska succeeded in emigrating to the United States in 1941. The remains of her collection were restituted to her in 1946.