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#2863716 06/28/19 06:07 PM
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Does anyone know about piano history? I was wondering today about when was the piano invented and what composers first did when the piano was invented. Did composers suddenly stop writing music for harpsichord and started writing for the piano. Also were early pianos are very different from the current piano?

Last edited by Moo :); 06/28/19 06:09 PM.
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Moo :) #2863722 06/28/19 06:41 PM
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The Piano Shop on the Left Bank has some info on this. It’s not the main focus, though it is interesting.


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Moo :) #2863734 06/28/19 07:18 PM
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The first pianos (1720s, Cristofori and his disciples) were just harpsichords with hammers covered in leather. They looked and sounded like harpsichords.

The Germans like Silbermann improved them, but it took 50 years or so before the piano really took off. In the late 1700s composers (or publishers) still described music as being composed for harpsichord or piano. But Mozart started thinking of music for piano early, and it’s difficult to think of Beethoven ever considering anything else.

The rise of the middle class really got the piano in every parlor - it was a sign of upward mobility. The daughters of the home had to demonstrate their refinement!

Sam

Moo :) #2863737 06/28/19 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring


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Moo :) #2863770 06/28/19 10:20 PM
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The invention of a piano was dated 1709. Back then the harpsichord was still a popular instrument. Emperor Fred the Great of Prussia had a collection of pianos which was a novelty of the day. When Bach visited the Emperor, he improvised a suite (Musical Offering) and dedicated it to him. Bach didn't like the sound of the piano and did not write any piece specific for the instrument. When Mozart & Haydn was writing their music, some of the pieces were for the harpsichord and others are for the piano. Some composers of the period including Scarlatti wrote keyboard pieces that were mainly played on a harpsichord but today it is common to find recordings on a piano. Bach's son CPE wrote a few pieces for the piano. By the time Beethoven came along, the piano had not evolved to the point of looking like a modern piano with 3 foot pedals but the harpsichord had already died out.

The sound of the modern piano took over 100 years to develop. In the beginning, the shape looked more like a harpsichord instead of the characteristic curve shape of a grand piano. And took a while before manufacturers decided to adopt 88 keys as the standard. Took at least 50 years before the harpsichord died out completely.

Sam S #2863817 06/29/19 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
The first pianos (1720s, Cristofori and his disciples) were just harpsichords with hammers covered in leather. They looked and sounded like harpsichords.


The fundamental difference, as I understand it, is that the harpsichord plucks its strings, whereas a piano strikes them with a hammer. It was that relatively minor change which allowed the piano to play notes with different dynamics - the harpsichord plays all its notes at the same volume no matter how hard you press the key.


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Standing on shoulders. Pluck vs strike. Also the difference between a harpsichord and a clavichord. The clavichord striking the strings, so the concept was already well understood long before the piano. The next step was the release of the hammer, the dampers and the damper pedal. Mention should be made of the early square piano, perhaps the 'home' version of a harp fortepiano, almost like what the modern upright is to a grand piano.

Last edited by Michael P Walsh; 06/29/19 04:05 AM.
Moo :) #2864062 06/29/19 09:01 PM
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I have just started reading Arthur Loesser’s Men, Women, and Pianos:  A Social History.  I’m finding it to be a very interesting and engaging overview of the piano’s history.   Loesser has a quirky, humorous writing style with I’m sure a fair load of biases entering into his historical interpretations.  But after only 50 pages into the book I’ve already learned a lot. For example I never before heard of Pantaleon Hebenstreit’s self-named and unique instrument that used hand-held hammers on something that resembled a dulcimer on steroids. Loesser identifies people that were thinking of developing a struck key hammer action but were beaten by Cristofori’s invention of the first fortepiano.

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/0486265439/ref=cm_sw_r_em_tai_DdagDbZ2BTCHN

Moo :) #2864276 06/30/19 02:29 PM
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This should keep you busy for a while:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano


. Charles
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Moo :) #2864399 06/30/19 05:22 PM
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Thank you all for the suggestions and the video. I think 2nd part with Liberace video, maybe it has some wrong information in.

"The second video was inaccurate bach was manly an organist and a harpsichordist and Bach was not the first composer to write for clavichord the clavichord was around a couple hundred year before Bach was born. Mozart only wrote for harpsichord when was young from about when mozart was 20 and onwards he was a pianist. Rondo Alla Turca is the 3rd movement of his PIANO sonata and what was that harpsichord that he played and chopin would have played a pleyed or an erard forte piano and a spinet is a small bent side harpsichord."

Moo :) #2864475 06/30/19 07:46 PM
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The topic is very interesting, once you get into it. The clavichord is the oddest instrument, in my opinion. Wish I had one, although it's not very practical. When you press the key, it raises a metal bar or "tangent" that actually forms one of the terminations of the vibrating string. In other words, the bridge. If you vary the pressure on the key, the pitch changes, so you get vibrato. The only one of the keyboard instruments that can do vibrato. Supposedly it was Bach's favorite instrument.

It's very quiet though. I went to a clavichord concert in a church years ago, and they had the pews roped off so that we all had to crowd into the first few pews in order to hear the instrument. Recordings don't really convey how quiet they are.

My favorite early instrument performer is youtube channel teafruitbat:



Sam

Moo :) #2864574 07/01/19 02:30 AM
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I've tried many clavichords (tried, not played!) courtesy of the Early Music Shop here in the UK. If you were playing very late at night it's unlikely that you'll disturb anyone. I'm referring to people in the same room! rather than those in the room adjacent.
Bebung is the term that is used for vibrato on the clavichord.

Last edited by Michael P Walsh; 07/01/19 02:33 AM.

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