Restoring heritage pianos is a craft that involves other crafts such as engraving, mechanics, woodworking – being a musician even. Very few people practise this craft today and Denis Delcroix is one of only five piano restorers in France. As a boy he worked with his father in the family's antique cabinetmaking workshop, and then studied the mechanical aspects of instruments. He graduated in classical composition and harmony from the conservatory in Bordeaux. The piano is truly Denis' object. Not all pianos, however, only very ancient ones, manufactured in France between 1830 and 1930. In his workshop, he works on heritage brands that recall the French musical tradition and with his work Denis revives and safeguards these historical pieces.Read the full interview
I learned to work wood in my father’s workshop. For various reasons I stopped and began to study at the conservatoire, studying classical composition and harmony. As a result, I am trained both manually and theoretically: I know the piano inside out.How would you define what you do?
I save and preserve the past. The pianos I restore are ancient, belonging to families who have inherited them. They were made by prestigious French manufacturers of the 1800s. To me, restoring them is a way of preserving the memory of that era.
It means perfect. This job requires a lot of patience and passion, you have to look closely at what you are doing. It is a profession of art. Attention to detail is key and mistakes cannot be made. These are precious and unique objects, made of noble wood often no longer available.What do you like most about your profession?
I always like the expression of the customer when they see the "before" and "after" pictures. Usually people cannot imagine what work will be done and therefore they do not know what to expect. When they see their restored piano, they are always in awe.