A versatile pianist, Mina Gajić has concertized in Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Montenegro, China, South America, and in the United States. She has performed recitals internationally as soloist and with violinist Zachary Carrettin, focusing on a diverse repertoire spanning the centuries and various styles, on historic period pianos in addition to modern concert instruments.
Her Parisian 1895 Érard grand piano is one of few instruments of this caliber, preserved such that it performs as a new instrument. Mina has developed a reputation for coaxing special tonal colors, “making the piano sound as a bassoon, a guitar, drums”, in solo, concerto, and chamber music repertoire.
Mina has served on the faculty at Sam Houston State University and University of St. Thomas. Currently, she is Director of Education and Outreach for the Boulder Bach Festival. With her new project, Mystery Sonata, she and the rest of the team offer a fresh outlook on music in today’s time through dynamic performances and revealing presentations, in various venues, and on instruments ranging from historical to electric. Mystery Sonata’s mission is to embrace flexibility in music while delivering the highest artistic standard in any given performance.
Sébastien Érard (1752-1831) started manufacturing pianos as early as 1777. He patented double-escape mechanism, and many other improvements to the piano action. Érard won Grand Prix of London in 1851. The last piano was made in 1931 (100 years after the death of Sébastien Érard) Érard received unequivocal patent freedom for all his instruments from Louis XVI.
Érard’s pianos were owned and played by many composers: Haydn, Beethoven, Rossini, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Verdi, Ravel, Fauré, Paderewski and many others. Érard was the preferred piano of the nineteenth century (along with Pleyel, Broadwood, Bösendorfer).
The period in music history that was the most prolific for piano writing was also the time of the birth and expansion of the “récital”. This kind of unfolding of literature for piano (solo and chamber) is very characteristic of the Romantic era.
In pianos from this period, strings are parallel to each other, and parallel to the grain of wood of the soundboard, which affects the resonating qualities of the instrument, in contrast to today’s cross-strung pianos. Érard always used quarter-cut wood for the soundboards, so they stand the test of time – like fine violins.
Historic pianos of the 19th century have register quality – timbre, where each part of the keyboard has different properties, so one can distinguish bass, tenor, alto, and soprano registers.
Érard’s hammers are layered with different materials: leather, hard felt, medium felt, soft felt – which can influence the quality of sound, making it a suitable chamber music partner to voice, strings and woodwinds. The sound of these pianos can be reminiscent of guitar, strings, organ, harpsichord etc.
Mina's piano was restored by Frits Janmaat, at Maison Érard in Amsterdam.