Sylvie Fouanon was born to a rich heritage of piano restoration. At the age of 15, she joined her parents’ company, Pianos Balleron. There, she learned the traditional techniques of piano restoration and fell in love with the craft – she has never looked back in her 40 years of practice. Sylvie specialises in pianos made between 1840 and 1940. The restorations are very complex, yet essential to keep the musical heritage and technical understanding of hand-crafted pianos alive, as well as encouraging others to pursue it. What makes Sylvie’s work exceptional is her use, as much as possible, of techniques and materials that would have been used at the time the pianos were made. Using natural products that she makes herself, her restorations are made to last and blend seamlessly with the original materials.Read the full interview
First and foremost, pianos are musical instruments but they are also beautiful objects. My work is about both the conservation and sharing of French and European musical heritage. The trickiest part of restoring a piano is preserving the unique quality and timbre of each one.What do you specialise in?
I specialise in restoring or replacing piano cross-beams, the base architecture of the piano, as well as buffer varnish. I use traditional and natural materials, if possible from the time the piano was made, which often means making my own products.
To me, the most beautiful moment is when customers come to try pianos at my workshop and start crying from the exquisite sound of my pianos.Could your craft be considered in danger?
Yes, restoring a piano takes a lot of time and knowledge, so the temptation of doing it quickly and without preserving the original timbre is common. To restore a piano well can take weeks, and it requires a good ear and strength.