What is piano? Who invented the piano? Why piano was invented? What is the complete history of piano including amazing facts about piano? Here is something I must call “A” to “Z”, because I have decided to share some amazing facts about piano including the complete history, theories and details about the piano because there are very less people knowing the answer to the question“Who invented the piano?”.
The Piano [abbreviation ‘pianoforte’, is a musical instrument that is played using keyboard] which contains rows of keys (smaller levels and the upper levels) the performer presses the keys with his fingers and thumbs of his both hands. The time when the story of piano started was the early 18th century, perhaps in 1709 from Italy, Padua in a shop of a Harpsichord, maker named Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco who was Born on May 4th – 1655 and died on Jan 27th – 1731. He was an Italian by birth and is generally known as Bartolomeo Cristofori.
About Bartolomeo Cristofori : Man Who Invented The Piano
Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco was an Italian by birth as mentioned earlier he was born on May 4th – 1655 and died on Jan 27th – 1731. He is regarded as the Inventor of the Piano because he was the legend who invented the piano. The source materials that are available after the death of Cristofori are just his dates of Birth and Death and some bills that He submitted to his employees, two wills and one single interview that was carried out by Scipione Maffei.
Cristofori was born in Padua, Italy and was hired by Ferdinando de’Medici, the Grand Prince of Tuscany, as a keeper of the instruments. Cristofori was an expert in making of Harpsichord and was very familiar with the body knowledge of the string keyboard instruments, and was known exactly when Cristofori build the first Piano. The employees said that there existed a piano before the invention of the Cristofori’s and was from the early years of 1700, and another document indicates that it is doubted that another piano existed in the year of 1698. Up to today three Cristofori pianos survived and are dated from 1720’s.
The first name that Cristofori named for his instrument was un cimbalo di cipresso di piano e forte (a keyboard with soft and loud) abbreviated many times as fortepiano, pianoforte and simply piano. The Clavichord and the Harpsichord was used before the invention of Piano as a musical instrument for the high and low performances. The Clavichord had the better performance over the volume but could not be played over the large performance whereas the Harpsichord was a quite loud instrument and got no better quality of volume or we can say that had not better sound quality. For that purpose of the better sound quality and the loud music the Piano was invented that could produce the variety of dynamic levels from a same keyboard. The piano offered the best features regarding both of the Clavichord and the Harpsichord, including the loud control of volume and the soft playing.
The Great Success
The great success of Cristofori (the man who invented the piano) was solving but there was one hurdle in that, and that was the designing of the stringed keyboard, in which the keys were struck by the hammer, the hammer when strike the keys/notes should return back to its rest position and may not remain in contact with the string because that may produce the damping of sound and the hammer should return to its place smoothly so that the key may be immediately played when depresses for the reputability of the same note again. Cristofori early instrument was made with very thin strings and was much quieter than the modern pianos but was much louder and sound sustaining, that was quite dynamic regarding nuance but was very heavy regarding the weight or the force that is to be applied on the keys when played.
For the first time the Piano was exhibited in Florence city in the year of 1709, Cristofori named his new instrument gravicembalo col piano e forte (instrument with roughly, loud and soft keyboard). Later on that was shortened to fortepiano, pianoforte and finally just piano. The early surviving instrument of Cristofori’s is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and is there with the dates from 1720.
A family friend Sebastian Leblanc suggested the white and black keys to be switched on to the piano. While on the Cristofori’s Piano the accidental keys and the natural keys were white and black respectively whereas the modern pianos have the opposite color of keys to that of Cristofori’s Piano.
First Appearance of the Piano
It is considered that the very first time the piano was mentioned from the diary of Francesco Mannucci, was at that time a Medici court musician, points out that Cristofori was working on the piano by the year of 1698 already. However, it is doubted that the very first piano came from 1700, the inventory of the Medici. In the Cristofori’s inventory, the entry of the Piano was like:
An Arpicembalo (harpharpsichord) by Bartolomeo Cristofori, a new creation that produces a soft and loud, with two groups of strings at accord pitch, with soundboard of cypress without rose.
“Che FA’ IL piano, e IL forte” the name that was suggested by Bartolomeo Cristofori.
People believed that the art of invention ends when the man who invented the piano died, but something else happens, more legends were born and more pianos were invented later on and there comes more people who learned to play the piano more frequently than Cristofori himself.
Life Later On
The person who hired Bortolomeo Cristofori, Prince Ferdinando died in 1713 at the age of 50. The evidences show that Cristofori still continued his work under the authority of the Prince’s Father Cosimo III. And in 1716 a musical instrument collection was signed indicating the title of custodian of collection for Cristofori with the name of “Bortolomeo Cristofori Custode”.
In early 18th century The King of Portugal bought one of the Cristofori’s instruments, because He started to sell out his work like others due to the reason of the prosperity of Medici prince declined and many other craft-men started selling their work, Cristofori too sold out his work to others.
In 1726 the only portrait of Cristofori was painted in which he was standing in front of his invention ‘The Piano’ and in that portrait in his left hand he was holding a piece of paper, on which it is believed that there was a diagram of the actions of his piano. The real portrait was destroyed in World War II and the only photographs of the portrait remain now.
Pianos Invented by Cristofori
Cristofori, the man who invented the piano has invented is more than many pianos with the figure “unknown”, but among from those only three survived and all of these are dated from the year 1720, showing that they were built at that time period.
- A Piano from the year 1720 is now placed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum. Many different parts of this instrument were changed by different builders, in 1938 its sound-board was replaced, and almost 54 of its sound note ranges were changed about half an octave. This Piano is although playable but its original condition is almost lost and now it indicates that it is not the same as it would have sounded when it was built newly.
- A 1722 Piano is placed at a Museum of Rome in Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali. It has almost a range of four octaves. The Piano is almost totally damaged by the worms and can be played.
- A 1726 Piano is placed at the Leipzig University’s Museum known as Musikinstrumenten-Museum. In the past recordings were made by this Piano (instrument) but now it is not playable.
All the three surviving instruments (Piano’s) bears the same Latin inscription: “BARTHOLOMAEVS DE CHRISTOPHORIS PATAVINUS INVENTOR FACIEBAT FLORENTIAE“ where the date is in Roman numbers, and the meaning of that inscription is that ” Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano in Florence City.
The Design of Piano
The first piano that Cristofori invented was almost same regarding features as of the modern pianos, but the thing that was lacked in its features was that it could not produce a very loud sound (tone). It has quite lighter regarding its construction and there was lack of metal frame that could affect the sound quality. Up to 1820 the construction of the piano was same as on the basis of Cristofori’s piano and later on after 1820 iron bracing was introduced in the construction of the Piano.
The number of instruments that survive today are 9 (NINE) and are attributed to Cristofori.
- Three of them are described above, (that are in the section of Pianos of Cristofori’s)
- From 1690 and 1693 2 (two) oval spinets piano’s. The one from the 1690 is now preserved at Florence in the Museo degli strumenti musicali, where as the one from the 1693 is kept at the University of Leipzig in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum.
- 1722 dated a Harpsichord is kept at Leipzig Museum. And a Spinet tone piano is also placed in Leipzig Museum.
- A 17th century Harpsichord is kept at Florence in the Museo degli strumwnti musicali.
- An Italian Harpsichord with two foot stop Harpsichord of the 1726is kept in Leipzig Museum. This instrument clearly defines the Cristofori’s integrity in the large number of levers and extensions that allow the player a great flexibility in choosing which string will sound.
Later on the instruments were designed by his assistant over a wider range while using the basic and the same design of Cristofori’s piano. A Harpsichord , a soundboard, and a keyboard is currently under the property of a builder how acquired them at New York in an auction by Tony Chinnery, there is enough construction details in these instruments that can easily identify that it is the work of Cristofori.
Types of Pianos (New Technology in Piano’s)
The person who invented the piano is gone but perhaps we are living in the most exciting time in the history to own, buy or to play the eternal instrument, THE PIANO. There had never been such choices for the consumers as we are having today, we can get whatever we want it is a newly designed piano or a digital instrument or a classical acoustic model.
It is also known as the “reproducing piano”, the class of instrument show a modern update on the paper roll pianos that were used in the old movies, and they had got a lot much popularity in the last decade.
These are not the digital pianos, they are the real piano (acoustic pianos) with hammers and strings and are played normally as like the others, and can be self-played by using the sophisticated electronic technology.
The unlimited digital pianos may appear in the form of toys for the kids; they can be purchased from the electronics stores. But it is like comparing a Fancy touring Sedan with a go-kart. The Digital pianos are manufactured by the well-known famous companies and the sampled piano sounds are taken form their own top and original models. The users can download different music’s and tone in that device as it contains Flash ROM and the user can learn a lot from it as it is made for the beginners.
There are many varieties of digital pianos that produce a lot much number of functions, such as providing you with lot of different combo sounds that can give you a layering effect to your playing.
The science fiction writers of the past may be impressed by today’s advancements, as the software converts music files into the music sheets. The advantage of this digital piano is that you can record the music when played and can be played later on in your computer or in you boom box. This is possible for the player pianos and also with a lot more with the CD-R technology or the one having the memory. The Recording can also be played on the instrument. The new software technology can take on all kind of new musical and also the recording functions.
CONSTRUCTION and COMPONENTS
Almost all the Pianos have 12,000 parts, and six functional parts or we can say that the functional features that are keyboard, dampers, hammers, soundboard, strings and the bridge. The most of parts of piano are selected by considering the strength and longevity especially for the outer rim. Most commonly it is made up of hardwood. Harold A. Conklin said that “the vibrational energy must stay inside the soundboard instead of dissipating in the case, that is inefficient radiators of sound” and for that purpose the sturdy rim is used for the outer body.
Hardwood rims are made by laminated thin, flexible, strips of hardwood, and bending the wood in the desired shape when the glue is applicate. In 1880 the bent plywood system was developed to save the cost and the time by C.F. Theodore Steinway. The thick wooden posts of the back (uprights) and the underside (grans) of the piano gives the support to the rim structure and for the stability purpose are made with the softwood.
Another area where toughness is required is the pin block that holds the tuning pins in place. It is made with hardwood for the safety and the stability purpose. The piano strings (wires) are made with high carbon steel for long life so that they must endure for years. The cast iron is used for the purpose of making the plate (frame) of the piano, and the it is best to select a massive plate. The strings of the piano when vibrate, they vibrate between both the plates, the insufficient vibration could go through bridge to the soundboard, For the precaution some manufactures use the cast steel in the plates but, cast iron is preferred more for the plating purpose.
Introducing or including a very large metal in a piano is too much handicap. SO the manufactures overcome this problem by polishing, decorating and painting the plates. To make the piano plates lighter the aluminum plates were used during 1940 but they were not acceptable for that, so that idea of using aluminum was rejected. Most of the parts of the piano are made of hardwood such as hornbeam, beech and the maple. Later in 1940’s and 1950’s the plastics were used in some of the pianos, but they proved disastrous effect when they lost the strength after a few years of use.
The soundboard of the poorest piano is made of solid spruce; Spruce strengthened to weight minimizes acoustic impedance’s while that could withstand the strings downward force. The cheap pianos soundboard is mostly made by the plywood.
There are 3 (three) factors that effects (influence) the pitch of a vibrating string (wire).
- Length (Shorter the wire (string), the higher will be the pitch)
- Mass per unit length (Thinner the wire (string), the higher will be the pitch)
- Tension (Tighter the wire (string), the higher will be the pitch)
For the repeating wave, the velocity ‘v‘ must be equals to the wavelength ‘λ ‘times (x) the frequency ‘f‘:
The waves on the piano string, reflects from both ends. The frequency that is produced on a single string is f=nv/ (2L).
Maintenance of The Pianos
The pianos are delicate instruments but are quite heavy. It is necessary to tune the piano regularly for the purpose of keeping the pitch better. Hence the pianos are quite heavy so the manufacturers had developed a special technique to move the piano from one place to another without damaging the case. In Piano the string tensions is adjusted for the stings better performance, and for that purpose the player needs a piano tunest to tune his piano while the voilin or the guitar players tune tune their instruments themselves.
Other Types of Pianos
- Jazz Piano
- Piano Extended Technique
- Piano Transcription
- Piano trio
- Pianoforte Foundation
- Street piano
- String Piano
- Aliquot stringing
- Piano acoustic
- Digital Piano
- Electric Piano
- Electronic Keyboard
- Electronic piano
- Harmon chord
- Keyboard instruments
- Key tar
- Piano accordion
- Pipe organ
- Player piano
10 Greatest Pianists of all Time
From its the time we started knowing who invented to the piano, till now there are 10 greatest pianists of all the time:
Leif Ove Andsnes (1970)
He has made a name for himself as one of the greatest musicians and the pianist of all time. His recording had gained too much popularity and magazine critics had said that as “extra ordinary achievement”.
Martha Argerich (1941)
The world woke up on the talent of Argerich when she won the International Piano Competition in 1964 at the age of 24. She is one of the greatest living pianists and can sell out the concerts within now time (within minutes).
Claudio Arrau (1903-1991)
It is said about Arrau that before he could read words, he can read music. He is perhaps the best pianist of all time. Colin Davis the Legendary Conductor had said about Arrau that “His sound is amazing and is entirely his own”. His devotion to music is extraordinary and he ennobles the music in such a way that no one else in the world can do so.
Vladimir Ashkenazy (1937)
He is one of the heavy weights of the classical music world. He is a Russian and holds the citizenship of both Iceland and the Swiss and is still performing as a pianist. He won the International Piano Competition in 1962 and left USSR in the same year to live in London. He has worked with all the 20th century biggest names like Zubin Mehta and Georg Solti etc.
Daniel Barenboim (1942)
Daniel Barenboim in 2012 carried the Olympic flag into the London stadium. Barenboim fame is now down to his work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra., which he made for the musician from across the Middle East. He had also made the outstanding recordings and his name is still remembers in the book of history.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
He was known as the composer of the music, He always played a new tone of music and always wrote his own music. And was always admired for the use of his legato and the singing tone he always produced.
Alfred Brendel (1931)
These are the words of Mr. Brendel: “If you think that I belong to a tradition, it is a tradition take makes the masterpiece, and tell the performer that what he should do a not the performer telling the piece what it should be like.” He could turn his hand to music any time and is respected for his contribution.
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
He was one of the most famous composers of all the time and was one of the great piano virtuosos of his period. At that time there were no recordings being made and his majority of the work for the Solo piano (because the early sound recording started form the year of 1860). It is said that Chopin is the creator of the school of piano and the school of composition, and is well true because nothing can equal the lightness, and the sweetness, and nothing can be compared to his work full of originality and grace and most important distinction.
Glenn Gould (1932-1982)
Gould is the only person and the pianist who divided the classical music fans. He is known best for his performances of the J.S. Bach music and also the Goldberg Variations. Glenn Gould is also known for his humming while he played his instrument. He always had a tiny chair which he always brought with himself to each and every concert he performed.
Myra Hess (1890-1965)
She is famous for her series of concerts that she gave during World War II at the National Gallery. She performed in that time period over 150 times and the session was for a time period of 61/2 (six and half) years. She also won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music when she was 12 years old and she had also performed with the legendary conductor Sir Thomas Beecham when she was 17 years old.
Beside these 10 famous pianists there are a few others that contributed in the musical side regarding the piano instrument, its tunes and sounds and also on composition side, in fact the man who invented piano had no idea in the very beginning, that people will play this instrument that well. There are many other best pianists listed as follow:
- Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989)
- Stephen Hough (1961)
- Lang Lang (1982)
- Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- John Ogdon (1937-1989)
- Murray Perahia (1947)
- Maria Joao Pires (1944)
- Maurizio Pollini (1942)
- Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
- Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997)
- Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)
- Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
- Jean-Yves Thibaudet (1961)
- Mitsuko Uchida (1948)
Best Piano makers in the world
(Who are the best piano makers in the world?)
A hundred and thousands of pianos are moved all over the world each year are it is often asked that who the best among those makers are. there are thousands of Piano makers in the world but a few of them are the best regarding its quality and its history of outstanding performance of their instruments, so are claimed as the world’s best piano makers in the world.
There is no such scientific metric that can measure the true value or the quality of any of the instrument. The quality and the value of any of the instrument is based on its action, sound, tone, history and the passion that differentiate each instrument from one another. The piano makers make the instrument by having some important features in their mind to make the best quality such as unrivaled sound, power, tone or the range. After listening to the views of the tuners, players, pianists, sellers and other persons, we had made a list of world’s best piano makers; the names are not in a particular order but are among Top 10 best piano makers of the world:
They are one of the oldest luxury piano makers in the world; they started making the Piano in 1828 in Vienna, Austria. Bösendorfer himself founded the company and was honored with the title of “official piano maker”.
“We are world famous for our quality, our outstanding richness of tone color and our typical pure and inspiring sound. Acquiring a Bِsendorfer is a lifetime dream for many people. For them, we build something very special, with devotion and professionalism: the Bِsendorfer among the grand’s.”
The founder of Blüthner Company Julius Blüthner founded this company in 1853, this company is still in working condition and manufactures different instruments along with the Piano and is now run by the Blüthner family. After 47 (forty-seven) years of the foundation of the company, Blüthner became the largest Piano maker in Germany that produced over 5000 pianos a year.
Blüthner had started making the pianos for the airships and first time the airship Hindenburg crossed the Atlantic with the piano. In World War II their company was heavily destroyed by the air raid in the year of 1943, but they rebuilt their company within the time period of 2 years (two) in 1945.
The Blüthner had made a reputation of the best piano makers in the world and is famous for its quality, and sound. Blüthner pianos had be purchased and played by the Great Queen Victoria. And Blüthner had be awarded with gold medals 5 time for their handcraft and stunning pianos.
Steinway & Sons
They are possibly the most known Piano makers in the world, as the instrument they make have almost more or less than 12,000 parts, as their master craftsman’s takes over a year to build the best quality pianos. Steinweg first made his ‘kitchen’ piano at the age of 20 (twenty) years, and after 25 (twenty-five) years of building his ‘kitchen’ piano and other 482 instruments, he moved to America. In 1853 he founded the company for making piano with the name of Steinway and Sons in the New York City.
Each Steinway grand piano a unique masterpiece produced by the hands of craftsmen. We take our time in production – everything is done quietly and with care.
Bechstein are known for producing pianos withe best tone and the beauty. Bechstein was founded in 1953, and is also one of the best German piano makers all over the world. The first piano that Carl Bechstein built was for the energetic and vigorous players and the delicate pianist.
Bechstein opened a store in London in 1885 where he started manufacturing the pianos, and that was quite enhanced by the Queen Victoria, and she bought a gilded Beckstein grand piano. After that his store got the popularity and became the largest showroom in Europe and the company turned into Bechstein Hall (which is now known as the Wigmore Hall). Beside Queen Victoria many other stars and the artists were the fan of his artwork and were his supporters of the brand.
Claude Debussey said “One should only write piano music for Bechstein”
Although the company was started in 1981 He had manufacture one of the best pianos in the world. Paulo Fazioli had created the unique pianos as he had the perfect background of concert pianist and was the son of a famous cabinet maker.
Fazioli had always build the concert pianos and the grand’s, beside that he never manufactured any other types of pianos, the cost of his manufacture pianos ranges from $100,00 to $300,00, it is a lot much price and that is the only reason they don’t compromise on the quality and build only pianos between the range of 120 and 130 over a year. Their pianos are quite heavy that they can be moved easily, they even make the gold leaf piano 24-carat. They largest piano ever made by Fazioli weighted 570kg and that beautiful instrument is titled with F308.
The company was established in 1927 by Koichi Kawai, and built the finest pianos, after him, his son took the company and built the world’s finest piano’s fulfilling his father’s dream. The finest quality pianos just came out of the premier Japanese piano maker.
Their moto was “the passion, the honor, the soul“.
Mason and Hamlin
Mason and Hamlin were the two owners of this piano maker company, Henry Mason was a classical pianist and Emmons Hamlin was a great inventor, they founded this company to build a new type of instrument and they call that as Organ Harmonium. This thing got attention at once and the team won the first prize for the American Cabinet Organ in Paris in 1867 Exhibition but until 1881 they started making pianos and mason and Hamlin’s pianos were widely considered as the best in the world and were the most costly pianos at that time.
During the Second World War they lost their way in piano world but in 1996 they again got their glory as the leaders and started making the finest and the best pianos, their skilled 70 craftsmen now build almost 50 upright pianos and 300 grand pianos per year because their moto is to focus on quality not quantity.
Stuart and Sons
They are the youngest piano makers on this list. They started making pianos from New South Wales, Australia in the year of 1990. According to their website they had built only 55 pianos but are the most popular in the Musical/Instrumental world. Stuart and Sons had produced only two Grand’s, among which one was a studio grand and the other, was a concert grand, and these 2 models were created with the most beautiful and the very rare timber.
A rare and beautiful instrument that respects tradition while embracing innovation.
The Stuart and Sons pianos beside of looking good also perform really great. Their instruments range is quite immense and each piano have at least 97 to 102 keys. Stuart and Sons claim about the pitch of their instrument that no other instrument or the piano maker can reach to this instant.
They started in 1885 and had completed its 130 years of piano production in the instrumental world. Wilhelm Schimmel was the founder of this Schimmel Piano Company, and was famous for the actions and the tone of their pianos. They had produced an upright piano through which that had tried to approach the tonal and performance qualities of the grand piano.
Schimmel had produces their pianos on the traditional basis and also on the Computer Assisted Piano Engineering. In 1927 the company moved from its original home place and is now owned by the 4th (fourth) generation. In 1951 their glass grand piano was unveiled and since then is a cult classic.
Their roots can be traced form 1835 when they started making pianos. Their moto behind building the pianos was “Build the good pianos and rest of that will take care of itself”. They build the astonishing Gortian Duo that is a combination of two grand pianos so that they can be played as “one instrument”. That produced a unique tone and love for music. These can be separated to move the pianos. They are famous for making pianos for over 157 years and the 6th (sixth) generation of the family now owns the company and the business is still running. The company now manufactures upright pianos of the quantity of 500 and the almost 100 grand pianos over a year.
In the history it is read that Cristofori was the person who invented THE PIANO in the year of 1709,and according to the sources, 4 (four) of his Pianos existed in the year of 1711 which are kept in different Museum around the world.
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