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History of the Piano

Piano History

You can learn more about this instrument, whether you are a beginner or an advanced player. Learn how the piano became a household favorite and how it developed. Please continue reading to see a new way of looking at your piano next time you visit it.

Piano history

A piano is an acoustic instrument that produces sound when hammers strike its strings. By pressing keys on a keyboard, the player activates hammers. The louder the sound, the harder you press. It wasn’t always this way

The history of pianos dates back to the Middle Ages, when the first string instruments, the hammered dulcimer, were introduced to Europe. After that, however, people wanted something more: a keyboard-equipped string instrument. It took many attempts to accomplish this. Finally, the clavichord, which had strings struck by tangents, and the Harpsichord, which had strings plucking by raven quills, were developed.

All the innovation was impressive, but it wasn’t enough. The dynamics of the Harpsichord were not controlled – the volume or the softness of the performers could be set. As a result, the clavichord’s sound was too delicate, and other instruments would often overpower it.

Cristofori, inventor of the first piano

The maestros desired more control over the volume. Bartolomeo Cristofori, Padua, Italy was brought into the picture. He was a harpsichord maker and was appointed by Ferdinando de Medici, Grand Prince from Tuscany, as his “Keeper” of the Instruments. It is not possible to pinpoint the exact year of the piano’s construction, but it is known the Medici family owned a piano by the year 1700. Only three Cristofori pianos survive today, and they were made in the 1720s. You can hear one of them being played and learn more.

The piano Cristofori sounded and looked very different from the modern model. Instead of plucked strings, like the Harpsichord’s, he decided to strike the strings with hammers. This would allow for a more dynamic range. This video was recorded at the Royal Academy of Music Museum of pianists. This video gives you a detailed look inside an early piano. You can also hear the differences in the instruments as they developed.

Cristofori’s original instrument was called the pianoforte, or in Italian: clavicembalo coll piano e forte. It is a harpsichord that can usually play and be more robust. When the name pianoforte became shorter, the word piano was made more popular in 1732. Although there was initial interest in the piano, it took nearly 50 years to become famous. However, once it did, it was impossible to stop.

The spread of piano production in Europe began in the 18th century. Each country that made pianos had its design. For example, the pianos made in England were heavier and had higher volume, while those from Austria had a lighter mechanism with a more pleasant sound. Viennese pianos are known for their wooden frames, which had two strings per note and hammers covered in leather. Interestingly, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart prefers Viennese pianos with a softer tone than modern ones.

Different pianos may have different numbers of keys. The most common number is 88. These are 52 white keys (the normals) and 36 dark keys (the sharps, flats, and flats). The older pianos had 85 keys, which was smaller than modern pianos. This is the place to go if you are mildly curious about the most miniature piano on the planet.

Piano Maufacturing

Some piano manufacturers have added keys to their models. The Imperial Bosendorfer, for example, has nine additional keys which range across the entire 8 octaves. If the piano isn’t used, the lid can be removed to cover extra keys. Or the keys can have different colors. Stuart and Sons also made a piano that had 102 keys. The extra keys here are the same as the regular ones, visually.

You can also change the number of keys. Schoenhut is a piano manufacturer specializing in making toy pianos with 44 and 49 keys. This piano is popular among aspiring pianists who wish to have all the benefits of a home-built instrument but don’t have the space to store more prominent models.

Emanuel Moor pianoforte is another version worth mentioning. This version is different from the classical pianos because it has two keyboards. Emanuel Moor (1863-1931), a Hungarian composer/pianist, inventor this unique instrument. It had two keyboards, one on top of the other. The lower keyboard had 88 keys, while the upper had 76 keys. It was scarce to play it. The mechanism inside the instrument will play the key on the lower keyboard if the key on the upper is pressed. This was just one octave more.

This was a great advantage as it allowed the pianist two octaves of sound with one hand, which is impossible when playing a regular piano. This made it possible to play complex pieces, initially composed for double-manual piano chord, on one keyboard piano. Cross-hand movements would be complicated and tedious with a single keyboard piano. Unfortunately, the Emanuel Moor Pianoforte wasn’t mass-produced. A handful of piano manufacturers, mainly Bosendorfer and Bechstein and Chickering and Steinway & Sons, have produced fewer than 60 instruments.

Cristofori also invented the pedal that would be the standard sustain pedal for every piano when he invented piano. The piano hasn’t changed much since its inception, but it has grown in scope and has become a more precise instrument over time. It will only continue to evolve, and who knows what new features will be added to make it even more amazing? Keep an eye out for more information!