Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by Heather Sargeant for The Friends of Felix Yaniewicz

 These resources explore the life and legacy of the musician and musical entrepreneur born in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth who settled in the city of Edinburgh. Prolific in his performing, business and musical connections, Felix Yaniewicz had a life shaped by music, migration and cultural exchange.


Curriculum Links:

  • Key Stage 2 History:
    - a local history study
    - a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066
  • Key Stage 3 History:
    - know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent,
    chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world
    - gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.
    - ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901
    - a local history study
  • Key Stage 2 Music:
    - appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians
    - develop an understanding of the history of music.
  • Key Stage 3 Music:
    - listen with increasing discrimination to a wide range of music from great composers and musicians
    - develop a deepening understanding of the music that they perform and to which they listen, and its history.


Curriculum for Excellence Links:

  • SOC 2-01a; SOC 2-02a; SOC 2-03a; SOC 2-04a; SOC 2-14a; SOC 2-16c
  • SOC 3-01a; SOC 3-02a; SOC 3-06a; SOC 3-20b; EXA 2-19a; EXA 3-19a


Discussion Ideas:

  • What do the piano, lyre guitar and violin case tell us about Felix Yaniewicz?
    • Can you think of three further questions about his shops?
  • Have you ever found something special that is connected with your family? Or is there something in your home that is connected with your family history?
    • What was/is it and how did you find it? What is the connection with your family?
  • Think about and discuss the types of artefacts and information that might be found when researching a musician.
    • What primary sources and secondary sources might be found?
  • Places and connections: With which places was Felix Yaniewicz connected during his life?
    • What do you think were the driving forces behind those connections?
    • Were they always music?
  • Find your Felix: Is there anyone in your family that has moved locations due to a job or other circumstances?
    • Is there someone in your family that has connections to a different culture? If you are not certain, you could ask your family about this. You could also think about your friends and whether they have connections to different cultures.
    • How are these connections continued?
  • Additional idea:
    Do you know anyone in your community, in school or a neighbour, who also has connections to Poland or Lithuania?
    • What other events have affected the movement of people in Europe and globally since the time of Felix Yaniewicz?
  • Have you ever listened to some of the works mentioned as being played at the First Edinburgh Music Festival?
    • You could listen to some of Haydn’s Creation or Handel’s Messiah and discuss what you notice about the pieces or performances that you hear.
  • Networks of musicians: Discuss how finding out about musicians and their lives helps us to interpret music.
    • How can we consider (and interpret) who might have influenced the work of others? Natale Corri was an impresario who employed Felix Yaniewicz for subscription concerts and Muzio Clementi had moved to London and was in the publishing business, publishing and selling printed music, and also sold instruments very similar to Yaniewicz’s pianos. We see both of these aspects in Felix Yaniewicz’s own entrepreneurship. We also see music passed down through the generations to Felix’s daughters.

Activity Ideas:

  • Take a look at the photos of the restored piano and make a list of anything you notice and any questions that come to mind.
    • Think about the creator (do we know who made the piano?), the context (consider what life was like at this time) and the purpose (why were instruments made, bought and sold?).
  • Research some keyboard instruments from a similar time to Felix Yaniewicz. You could use the website from the Museum of the Royal College of Music. Find the ‘Musical Collections’ and look for the ‘Keyboard Instruments’ in the ‘Musical Instrument’ section.
    • Observe some of the similarities and differences of some keyboard instruments.
  • You could also look at the Binks Gallery and 1812 Gallery, St Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh, to look at early keyboard instruments. Even better, you could go and visit in person if you are near to Edinburgh.
    • Observe some of the similarities and differences of some keyboard instruments.
  • Create a poster about something in your home that is connected with your family history.
    • Include as many details about what the object/artefact is and when it was made or created.
    • What material is it made from and how old is it?
    • What was/is it and how did you find it?
    • What is the connection with your family?
  • Look at a map of Europe and annotate it with the locations where Yaniewicz lived and/or performed.
    • You could use coloured dots and a key to show each place and what we know.
  • Research one of the musicians with whom Yaniewicz was connected either by performing for them or through living in the same place.
    • What evidence can you find about whether they moved to different countries in order to keep making music or whether they stayed in the same country?

Additional ideas:

  • Find out why Paris and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were not stable places when Yaniewicz moved to London.
    • Find ten facts about the three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or about the French Revolution.
  • Use the resource sheet to locate important places in Edinburgh in the life of Felix Yaniewicz.
  • Find out about Angelica (Madame) Catalani – what was she famous for?
  • Compare one of the pieces of music from the First Edinburgh Festival with one of Felix Yaniewicz’s compositions, and a piece of traditional Scottish folk music – you could look for an 18th Century piece. Research Scottish folk music.
    • Think about the similarities and differences in terms of the musical instruments used and the musical style e.g. folk ballads, chamber music, orchestral music.
  • Look at the website of the Edinburgh International Festival which runs today (which started in 1947).
    • Imagine what Felix Yaniewicz might think about its aims and about the festival.
    • Why do you infer that he would think these things? Give evidence from what you know of his life and music.


 See 'Resources' section for website links.