Fun fact: piano is one of the most popular instruments, particularly here at Kathryn Brickell Music. We seek talented and dedicated teachers to provide piano lessons to children, adolescents and adults interested in learning the instrument. If you want to set up a time to meet with our private piano instructors, drop us a line here.
Where did the piano originate?
The invention of the modern piano is credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua, Italy in the early 1700s. Like many other inventions, the piano was founded on earlier technological innovations. The mechanisms of keyboard instruments such as the clavichord and the harpsichord were well known. In a clavichord the strings are struck by tangents, while in a harpsichord they are plucked by quills.Centuries of work on the mechanism of the harpsichord in particular had shown the most effective ways to construct the case, soundboard, bridge, and keyboard. Cristofori, himself an expert harpsichord maker, was well acquainted with this body of knowledge. Cristofori’s great success was in solving, without tany prior example, the fundamental mechanical problem of piano design: the hammers must strike the string, but not remain in contact with the string. Also, the hammers must return to their resting position without bouncing violently, and it must be possible to repeat a note rapidly.
Cristofori’s new instrument remained relatively unknown until an Italian writer, Scipione Maffei, wrote an enthusiastic article about it in 1711, including a diagram of the mechanism. This article was widely distributed, and most of the next generation of piano builders started their work because of reading it. Interestingly, composer Johann Sebastian Bach did not like the first piano he was introduced to in 1730, claiming that the higher notes were too soft to allow a full dynamic range. The criticism was apparently heeded by piano builders. Bach did approve of a later instrument he saw in 1747, and even served as an agent inselling certain builder’s pianos. Piano-making flourished during the late 18th century. Viennese-style pianos were built with wood frames, two strings pernote, and had leather-covered hammers. Some of these Viennese pianos had the opposite coloring of modern-day pianos; the natural keys were black and the accidental keys white.
In the period lasting from about 1790 to 1860, the Mozart-era piano underwent tremendous changes that led to the modern form of the instrument. This revolution was in response to a consistent preference by composers and pianists for a more powerful, sustained piano sound, and made possible by the ongoing Industrial Revolution with technological resources such as high-quality steel, called piano wire, for strings, and precision casting for the production of iron frames.
Where is the Piano now?
Over time, the tonal range of the piano was also increased from the five octaves of Mozart’s day to the 7 or more octaves found on modern pianos.