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Artur Schnabel and family: A musical legacy in Tremezzina, Lake Como

EXHIBITION from July 1 to September 26, 2021

Museo del Paesaggio del Lago di Como

Thursday 01 July 2021, at 10:00

An old German trunk made in Berlin by Carl Malchow & Otto belonged to Artur Schnabel – composer and pianist who was the first in 1935 to record the 32 Sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven, still today a milestone in the history of interpretation – and an English closet trunk branded Selfridges London belonging to his son Karl Ulrich are among the inspirations and ideal image to tell the story of a family of musicians, that of the Schnabel family, which for four generations lives continuous changes and moves from one continent to another, landing in different stages in Tremezzo and on Lake Como.

The protagonists of the exhibition “Arthur Schnabel and his family. Storie di musicisti in Tremezzina, Lago di Como” – set up at the Museo del Paesaggio del Lago di Como in Tremezzina (CO) and promoted by the Municipality of Tremezzina in collaboration with the Associazione Ars Aeterna and the Schnabel Music Foundation with the contribution of loans from private collections and unpublished documents from Italian historical archives (among which the one of the Municipality of Tremezzina) – are the members of the Schnabel Family, undisputed personalities of the history of music of the 20th century.

The Schnabel Family is a family of musicians from the Tremezzina area.

For the first time – and on the occasion of two anniversaries falling in 2021: the 70th anniversary of Artur Schnabel’s death, and the 20th anniversary of the death of his son Karl Ulrich Schnabel – an exhibition illustrates and recounts the human and artistic life of a family of musicians who, starting from Artur, weave together personal stories and histories rich in admiration and interest for Tremezzina, its territory and its inhabitants.

Through the exhibition of paintings, photographs, letters, objects owned by the Schnabel Music Foundation and private collections, we intend to highlight the importance and value of the testimony of Artur Schnabel (Lipnik 1882 – Morschach 1951), an Austrian of Jewish origin, composer and pianist who was the first in 1935 to record the 32 Sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven, still today a milestone in the history of interpretation, his wife Therese Behr-Schnabel (Stuttgart 1876-Lugano 1959) German contralto well known for her interpretations of the lieder repertoire (for her Richard Strauss composed the lied “Traum durch die Dämmerung”), of her son Karl Ulrich Schnabel (Berlin 1909- Danbury, Connecticut 2001) pianist and distinguished teacher, tireless popularizer and “father” of many pianists of the last generation, of Helen Fogel Schnabel (New York 1911- Gravedona, Lake Como 1974), American pianist, brilliant concert pianist and teacher, wife of Karl Ulrich, of Claude Alain Mottier (Zurich 1972- Poughkeepsie, New York 2002), son of Ann and François Mottier and grandson of Karl Ulrich, pianist and heir to the family tradition lived with lucid and intelligent impetus.

Jewish, living in Berlin, Arthur Schnabel decided in May 1933, when Hitler came to power, to leave the German capital to stay in Tremezzo, on Lake Como, in one of the most charming corners of Tremezzina: Villa Ginetta.

The exhibition will be divided into three sections: in the first one the exhibition materials are dedicated to the presentation of the members of the family offering a historical and cultural cross-section that, from Europe at the end of the 19th century, through the 20th century. In the second section the arrival in Tremezzina in May 1933 opens a chapter of European history but above all local history lived in the intertwining of those who participate and share emotions, concerns and desires dictated by the period. The third section is dedicated to Music, that universal language that allows the dialogue between people in a sort of intellectual geography that the Schnabels will enhance up to the praise of the Larian territory through music, intended as a common good to protect and pass on.

The exhibition is enriched by a musical listening path given by a playlist in which each of the musicians of the family is the protagonist in the interpretation of pieces chosen with a chronological criterion.

The visitor will also be attracted and involved from the outside, where the artist Alessandro Lupi will create “Sintonia” (2021), a site-specific installation, a visual synthesis of the language of sound in transformation, in relation to the landscape of the garden.
The work will be transformed according to the time of day: during the day the chromatic contrasts between nature and materials, between light, shadow and the chromatisms of light; at night the three-dimensional luminous dynamisms will generate a contemplative and suggestive experience. The work is inspired by the concept of tool and language in its evolution over time. On the railing delimiting the park, wooden elements will suggest the geometric rhythm of black piano keys, while fluorescent shapes will refer to the instruments used to write music (pentagram) and its transformation into frequencies (sound waves).
Indoors, instead, Lupi will propose the sculpture “Density fluorescent, trunk, (blue kid)” of 2010 realized with a trunk, polyester threads, fluorescent pigments and a UV lamp.
The exhibition project involves Ann Schnabel Mottier and François Mottier, founders of the Schnabel Music Foundation, Britta Matterne, musicologist and researcher of the above-mentioned Foundation and of the University of Hamburg, Paola Colombo Mazzucchelli for the conception, design, coordination and research in Italian historical archives, Paolo Bressan, for the conception, design and coordination with the Ars Aeterna Association and LacMus Festival.


Useful info

Visit to the exhibition — along with postcard, booklet and headphones for music listening — included in the museum entrance fee.

Max capacity: 20 people for video projection room and 20 for exhibition rooms.

Opening hours: Thursday to Sunday: 9:30-12:00 / 14:30-18:00


Museo del Paesaggio del Lago di Como – Prices 2021
  • 5,00 € adults
  • 4,00 € reduced*, Groups (min. 10 people)
  • 3,00 € students (6-18)
  • 10,00 € family ticket (2 adults + 2 children)
  • Free Children (0-5 anni), residents of Tremezzina

* Reduction of 20 % presenting the entrance ticket of Villa Carlotta, Villa del Balbianello, Comacina Island, Lake Como International Museum of Vintage Boats and for FAI members.