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There was 80 years of dust on this piano. I wiped some off and found the signature of the greatest dramatic opera soprano who ever lived. Kirsten Flagstad. I couldn’t believe it. The owner and I were in shock.

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Wow!

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That’s amazing!

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I grew up in Oslo, Norway, and my mother was an actress and singer all her life.
She sang musicals (like My Fair Lady), not opera, but she certainly listened to opera, and Kirsten Flagstad was a name I heard as often as the names of family and neighbors.
When Flagstad was on the radio, my mother would move our piano bench to the radio and sit directly in front of it, listening raptly.
Thanks for the nostalgia trip!


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What a wonderful surprise! She's one of my favourite singers and arguably unrivalled as a Wagnerian soprano though her fellow Scandinavian Birgit Nillson might have something to say about that smile. What I love about Flagstad though is her human warmth when it comes to singing lieder - just listen to her version of Grieg's song below.



Any idea how she came to sign the piano and (more importantly this being a piano forum) what make of piano was it wink?

Last edited by Aritempor; 05/09/21 02:54 AM.
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What sort of writing tool was this done with? I'm pretty sure permanent markers weren't around then. Is it a waxy sort of substance?

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Originally Posted by ando
What sort of writing tool was this done with? I'm pretty sure permanent markers weren't around then. Is it a waxy sort of substance?


I wondered about that too. I don't think it can have been ordinary fountain pen ink. Perhaps she carried a pen filled with special ink (maybe the kind of ink used for official registers etc) for signing autographs on glossy programs etc?

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Looks like a fountain pen.

I used to tune a piano that had Tito Schipa's autograph from about the same era.


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It was the first time I worked on this Knabe (official piano for the Met Opera at the time) baby grand. The history of this piano is very murky. Her aunt owned it before, but before that it is unknown. The owner only tunes it once every 8 years. I'm going to be calling her every year to try and get her to tune it more often now that she is aware of the signature. I'll take a closer look the signature next time.

I think it is cool this film was shot in the same year she signed the piano.
[video:yahoo]
[/video]

Last edited by TimM_980; 05/09/21 12:42 PM.
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It's wonderful. But not necessarily the definitive Brunnhilde, when we take this into account:

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the lowercase t in kirsten doesn't look right compared to her other signatures, she started much too low, but it could be real, handwriting is not that consistent throughout a person's lifetime.

Last edited by EinLudov; 05/09/21 04:50 PM.
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Not only that, writing with a fountain pen on a metal plate is not likely to be something that one does every day.


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Fantastic!!!

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I emailed the Kirsten Flagstad museum in Norway about the find and if they have come across any other pianos she signed. Here’s the response:

What a wonderful email!
We have never seen this before.
She did represtent Knabe in the US and they even made a memorial coin with her likeness for their anniversary.
We have some of the ads here in the museum archive.
Do you know who she got it from?
Kirsten did have one herself, but that was in NY.
She had many dear friends in California. Perhaps she did it for one of them?
Would you mind if I share this online with our community?
Looking forward to finding out more!

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Now, does the piano still work?

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It works as well as it can for all the neglect

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Astonishing! Thanks for sharing this.

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What a great story It would be interesting to know more about how she signed her name on a piece of cast iron. The ball point pen was patented in 1938, ironically the same year as the signature. I wonder if a quill pen or a dip pen like caligraphers use would have worked better than a fountain pen. I think I've still got an old fountain pen laying around somewhere, I'm tempted to go out in the shop and see if it will write on a piece of cast iron.


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Perhaps she had a specialised ink in her fountain pen, bearing in mind that she might have been asked to autograph things with a number of different surfaces - recital programs with glossy covers, for example.....

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Originally Posted by EinLudov
the lowercase t in kirsten doesn't look right compared to her other signatures, she started much too low, but it could be real, handwriting is not that consistent throughout a person's lifetime.

This is a Flagstad signature I found, from a calling card. To me, it looks very similar to the one on the piano. Including the "t"s.

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