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41 Facts about the Piano You Might Not Know

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The piano or “pianoforte” is a musical instrument that contains rows of keys of both smaller and upper levels. The performer plays the piano by pressing the keys with the fingers and thumbs of both hands.

Here are some interesting facts about the piano.

black and white shot of piano keys facts about pianos

41 Facts about the Piano

  1. It is believed that the piano started in the early 18th century, perhaps in 1709 in the town of Padua in Italy.

2. The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco. He was born on May 4, 1655, and died on January 27, 1731. Today he is regarded as the inventor of the piano

3. Cristofori worked for Ferdinando de Medici, the Grand Prince of Tuscany as a keeper of instruments.

4. Cristofori knew a great deal about string keyboard instruments and was an expert in the making of the Harpsichord.

5. Today, there are three Christofari pianos in the world that date back to the 1720s. One is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City which can still be played, albeit not at the same quality levels. A second is in Rome at the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali. The third is at Leipzig University’s Museum.

6. The first name used by Cristofori for his new instrument was un cimbalo di cipresso di piano e forte (a keyboard with soft and loud). This has been abbreviated many times as fortepiano, pianoforte, and piano.

7. The piano was an improvement over existing string keyboard instruments. The clavichord performed well for volume but couldn’t be played over a large performance. The Harpsichord was loud but the quality of the sound was poor. The piano offered the best features of both instruments.

Bartolomeo Cristofori

8. The piano was first exhibited in Florence in 1709.

9. A family friend of Cristofori’s Sebastian Leblanc suggested that the keys be white and black.

10. On Cristofori’s original piano the accidental keys were white and the natural keys black. Modern pianos are the opposite.

11. In the early 18th century the King of Portugal bought one of Cristofori’s instruments.

12. The only portrait of Cristofori was painted in 1726. He is standing in front of his invention and in his left-hand holds a piece of paper. It is believed that the piece of paper contained a diagram of the actions of his piano. The real portrait was destroyed in World War II and only photographs of the portrait remain today.

13. The three surviving early pianos by Cristofori all bear the same Latin inscription: BARTHOLOMAEVS DE CHRISTOPHORIS PATAVINUS INVENTOR FACIEBAT FLORENTIAE with a date in roman numerals. The inscription translates as Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano in Florence City.

14. The key difference between Cristofori’s original pianos and pianos today is that they could not produce a very loud tone.

15. The tone was improved in pianos manufactured from 1820 onwards by the introduction of iron bracing in its construction.

16. In addition to the three pianos mentioned early, several of Cristofori’s instruments can be seen today. These include two oval spinet pianos and several harpsichords. Most of these are on display at the University of Leipzig or the Museo Degli Strumenti Musicali in Florence.

17. Almost all pianos have 12,000 parts.

18. Almost all pianos have six functional features: keyboard, dampers, hammers, soundboard, strings, and the bridge.

19. Pianos are most commonly made up of hardwood.

20. In 1880 the bent plywood system was developed for pianos to save cost and time by CF Theodore Steinway.

21. Piano strings or wires are made with high carbon steel for long life.

hands on piano keys

22. Three factors influence the pitch of a vibrating string. The first is length – the shorter the wire the higher the pitch. The second is the mass per unit length – the thinner the string the higher the pitch. The third is tension. The tighter the string the higher the pitch.

23. In order to keep the pitch of a piano in check it must be tuned regularly.

24. Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) is said to have been the creator of the school of piano and the school of composition.

25. Pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982) always brought a tiny chair to every concert at which he performed. He was also known for humming while he played his instrument.

26. Myra Hess is famous for the series of concerts that she gave during World War II at the National Gallery. She performed over 150 times during that period.

27. Myra Hess won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music when she was just 12 years old. She also performed with legendary conductor Sir Thomas Beecham when she was just 17 years old.

28. Bosendorfer started making the piano in 1828 in Vienna, Austria, and is one of the oldest luxury piano makers in the world. Bosendorfer himself founded the company and was honored with the title of “official piano maker”.

29. Bluthner Company was the largest piano maker in Germany and produced over 5000 pianos a year.

30. Bluthner made a piano for the airship Hindenburg. The Hindenburg crossed the Atlantic with the piano onboard.

wooden model piano

31. A Steinway piano has around 12,000 parts.

32. It can take over a year to make a Steinway piano.

33. Steinway and Sons were founded in New York City in 1853.

34. Fazioli is famous for making only 120+ pianos a year which range in price from $100,000 to $300,000.

35. The largest piano ever made by Fazioli weighed 570 kilograms.

36. The Organ Harmonium was created by Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin. It won first prize in the 1867 Paris Exhibition.

37. Stuart and Sons claim that the pitch of their pianos cannot be matched. They started making pianos in New South Wales, Australia in 1990.

38. Each Stuart and Son piano has a range of keys between 97 and 102.

39. Schimmel unveiled their glass grand piano in 1951 and it became an instant cult classic.

40. Grotrian Steinweg produced the Gortian Duo. This was a combination of two grand pianos that can be played as one instrument.

41. Grotrian Steinweg has been making pianos for over 157 years and the 6th generation of the family now owns the company.

strings in a piano


Thursday 19th of May 2016

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