«In the last thirty years or so there has been a revival of the keyboard repertory of the late 18th and early 19th centuries played on instruments of the period, both restored originals and copies. But to put the word ‘copy’ in its proper historic perspective it should be noted that the Steinway company builds copies the basic recipe has not changed since about 1870. And just as concert life on the modern piano could not exist were not Steinway and other companies constantly supplying new instruments, so it is with the period piano. There are now quite a few builders of these hand made instruments, and the number is steadily growing.
But just as there are only a handful of modern piano builders on whose pianos serious artists wish to play, so it is with the historic piano. Here, too, there are but a handful and Paul McNulty’s instruments stand right at the top. He has become, over the years, far more than a mere copier, he seems a true apprentice of the great builders of the past: Graf, Walter, Hoffman, becoming a great builder himself in their footsteps. He has studied their pianos and seems to have been able to wrest secrets from them more than many others. His fortepianos are truly beautiful and inspiring, both to play and to hear.
I have known McNulty for many years, but only recently was able to get one of his pianos for our University. The reason is quite simple — whenever I had any kind of problem with any fortepiano I owned from another builder, Paul would come and adjust and voice and regulate it so well that there was no need to change it!
I recommend Paul McNulty’s fortepianos in the warmest possible terms, and wish him much continued success.»
«Paul McNulty’s fortepianos are by far the best. His instruments are the only ones I’ve ever played that have a ‘soul’, rather than being ‘museum replicas’. I truly believe that he is the only fortepiano builder who has managed to capture Anton Walter’s spirit in his pianos and am convinced that, had he lived and worked in the late 18th-century, there wouldn’t have been ‘Anton Walter & Sohn’ but ‘Walter & McNulty’.»
«The question was being asked: why no keyboard concertos? …..one question was a question of instrument — old keyboards simply sound too old and the “copies” that were made at that time didn’t strike me as good enough.. but then, when Harnoncourt was in Amsterdam, he was introduced to an instrument maker who specialized in high-quality instruments based on historical models: Paul McNulty. The list of owners of his copies of Walter fortepianos and other instruments found on his website and reads like a who’s who of leading figures in the field of historically informed performance practice.»
From article/interview with Nikolaus Harnoncourt
«Fortepianos made by McNulty
For over 15 years, I have had the pleasure to play on the beautiful instruments by Paul McNulty. I have used them in concerts all over France, Monaco, Luxembourg and would test both their reliability and full resonance. I particularly enjoy his copies after Anton Walter as well as after Anton Walter & Son. Undoubtedly Mr. McNulty is one of the best fortepiano makers around. I am looking forward with happy anticipation to his newest instruments.»
«In giving concerts in different venues over the years it has always been a great relief when a promoter has said that there is ‘a McNulty’ available. One knows what to expect: an instrument of character, with a well-balanced and regulated action, and great sound quality in all registers. I am in the fortunate position of owning several original Viennese fortepianos, and I can honestly say that McNulty’s instruments compare favourably in all respects. He is a distinguished and meticulous craftsman, and his attention to the smallest detail is reflected not only in the superlative sound of his instruments but also in their exquisite finish.
In recent years McNulty has done some work on my own instruments, namely by Anton Walter and Johann Fritz. He re-leathered and regulated each instrument, selecting different leather samples to achieve the optimum sonorities and subtly re-regulating until I was satisfied. I was delighted with the results in both cases, and am hoping he’ll tackle a Graf next!»
«I had fortepiano by Paul McNulty many years and I am very much happy with it and everyone else is. I recommended McNulty instrument to the Amsterdam Conservatory and people there were also very happy with the instrument. My fortepiano is especially wanted by many and I had rented it out many times. I think it is one of the best fortepiano copies in the world.»
Stanley Hoogland, professor of fortepiano in Amsterdam and Den Haag conservatories
«I was playing two concerts in Tokyo using your brand-new fortepiano. It worked extremely good! I liked the roundness, eveness and warmth of the sound in the rather large and not very resonant hall. Thank you!
Before Hannover I visited Zvi Menaker in Hannover and touched your Graf copy. It is a miracle! It was just what I have expected in my best thoughts. The fortepiano is equally very suitable for early 18th century music — mid-Beethoven/Schubert/Schumann, even Chopin.»
«8 years ago Paul McNulty has built a very nice Walter copy for me. It has lived through many hardships (hot summers, dry winters, trips to Spain, Portugal, Sweden, students hammering) and has never let me down. The mechanism is impeccable, the sound expressive and flexible. Audiences having heard the instrument in solo works, chamber music and with orchestras have been as enthusiastic as me.»
tel.+31 433 654391
fax +31 433 654392
«J’ai le privilège de posséder un des nombreux Fortepianos signés Paul McNulty.
L’instrument est en acajou et d’une belle élégance; sa vraie valeur réside toutefois dans la sonorité chaude, ronde et précise, étayée par une mécanique impeccable.
Une réussite totale!»
«Paul McNulty’s fortepianos are simply some of the most beautiful keyboard instruments of our time. Their extraordinary suppleness, beauty of tone and responsiveness make them an absolute joy to play. The five-and-a-half octave Walter & Sohn piano that McNulty built for me in 2008 is a magnificent example of his craft: its sound has both a marvellous brightness and clarity — a major advantage for concerts in larger venues; but also an undeniable warmth and tenderness that makes it the ideal recording instrument — no mean feat, given that these pianos are notoriously difficult to ‘capture’ on disc.
I can say without any reservation that a fortepiano from McNulty is something to be treasured for a lifetime.»
Kris Bezuidenhout (First prize winner, Brugge competition, student of M.Bilson)
«I’ve known Paul McNulty for over 20 years. His fortepianos are beautiful to look at, thrilling to listen to, and inspiring to play. He has assimilated not only the skill and craftmanship of the 18th and 19th century masters but also their aesthetic ideals. McNulty has the ears of a true artist, and this is reflected in his pianos, which combine all the best qualities of the antiques.»
Penelope Crawford, University of Michigan
«(About Graf copy) The most impressive quality, to me, is that the sound has a real ‘soul’, like every good antique I’ve played, but not found in copies. I think it comes from the complexity of the sound, in the case of this piano a darkish, nutty quality (the lower overtones?) overlaid with a satisfying ‘ping.’ The piano lets you mix these qualities, and that’s what makes it so satisfying to play.
Another aspect that I was just starting to appreciate: the ‘gadgets’ all seem very usable and inviting. What I mean by that is that they don’t transform the sound too radically, so that they provide effects which are easily integrated into the palette of the ‘full’ sound. They are all beautiful in themselves — I don’t have the feeling that using them will leave the listener deprived of the instrument’s ‘real’ sound.»
Prof. David Breitman, Oberlin College, USA
«I have been playing McNulty fortepianos since the year 2000, when Paul McNulty made and delivered a 5 ½ octave piano to Smith College, where I teach. That piano has been an absolute joy to play. It is incredibly responsive, and has a complex tone with lots of colors. I was so pleased with it that I ordered a 6 ½ octave Graf copy for myself. That piano has been a revelation, and has given me great pleasure. I think Paul is a piano-building genius.»
Monica Jakuc Leverett
Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor Emerita of Music
Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, USA
«The fortepiano is a love. We truly have a gem, and people realize it. The most unlikely folks have said that they think it is really stunning. It made a tremendous impression on the people who were here for the Southeast Historical Keyboard Society in early March.
We had a concert in late March. 3 faculty pianists, one emeritus (Harold Heiberg, he’s 84, I think – retired at 85). It was amazing how different the piano sounded under three different pianists’ hands even though none of them had much time on a fortepiano recently! In every case, it sounded so beautiful. And the singers responded to it so sensitively. All spoke about how freeing it was to sing with it.
The happiest folks are the students. We’ve had a wonderful Beethoven clarinet trio performance and a classical horn sonata. The Beethoven pianist was a former pianist who moved to harpsichord 6 years ago, although still makes part of his living as a pianist. The American idiom that fits: like a duck to water. Amazingly beautiful playing.»
Dr. Lenora McCroskey, Professor of Music
(Harpsichord, Organ, Asst. dir. of early music studies)
College of Music, University of North Texas, USA)
«What marvellous instruments Paul McNulty makes! I have known his pianos for nearly 20 years and always remain enchanted by them.»
Tuija Hakkila, Professor of Sibelius Academy, Helsinki
«What an experience today! Playing those instruments was so exciting. To hear Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin…as they and their audiences would have heard it and as it should be! And to play the music myself! I’ve been ruined, I can’t go back to modern pianos now! Truly, it was a dream come true to play on those keyboards and I’ll never forget it.»
Sarah Coffey, NY University