The first piano, pianoforte, described as an ‘arpicimbalo ,’ built by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1732) while he was appointed ‘to the Florentine court of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici in 1688,’ vastly improved upon the harpsichord and clavichord, ‘with hammers and dampers and two 8′ choirs, having a range of four octaves.’
Cristofori Piano: Sonata K.9 by Domenico Scarlatti
Performed by Dongsok Shin. [ 2 ]
The Difference Between Fortepiano and Piano (Forte). [ 3 ]
His innovations included an “escapement” mechanism to prevent the hammers from dampening the strings, a “backcheck” to ensure the hammer did not fall against the strings after being struck, and a dampening mechanism to silence strings not in use. Other technical advancements included isolating the soundboard from its stress-bearing parts and using thicker strings with increased tension. These numerous refinements expanded the range and versatility of the sound, affording the player an instrument responsive to touch, capable of dynamic gradations.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cristofori Piano: Sonata K.9 by Domenico Scarlatti, Performed by Dongsok Shin." Online Video Clip. YouTube. YouTube, 29 July 2006. Web. 16 Oct. 2015. Standard YouTube License.
ear8002. "The Difference Between Fortepiano and Piano(Forte)." Online Video Clip. YouTube. YouTube, 13 Oct. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2015. Standard YouTube License.
O’Brien, Michael. "Cristofori, Bartolomeo." Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
Robinson, J. Bradford. "Pianoforte: History of the Instrument." Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
Stein Nameboard Plaque. [ 1 ]
Johann (Georg) Andreas Stein (1728 – 1792) – German Keyboard Instrument Maker, Organist, whose many experimental contributions to the piano rival its inventor, Bartolomeo Cristofori.
Latcham, Michael. "Stein, Johann (Georg) Andreas." Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
In London, at the age of 33, J.C. Bach performed the first public recital on a piano, a square grand built by Johannes Zumpe.
Mozart praised the Stein piano for its knee-levers, allowing the composer to operate the dampers without removing his hands from the keyboard; and also for their escapement, which the piano maker had not quite perfected.
In a letter to his father, Leopold, he wrote:
In whatever way I touch the keys, the tone is always even. It never jars, it is never stronger or weaker or entirely absent; in a word, it is always even. It is true that he does not sell a pianoforte of this kind for less than three hundred gulden, but the trouble and the labour which Stein puts into the making of it cannot be paid for. [ 1 ]
Macnutt, Richard. "Erard." Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
Érard built a harpsichord known as the clavecin mécanique. Soon after he started successfully marketing his five-octave pianos.
“German action,” or Prellmechanik, ascribed to Johann Stein, first conceived as early as 1769 and refined during the 1770s. By 1781, hammers mounted directly on the keys.
Overwhelmed by all the requests, Érard and his brother, Jean-Baptiste Érard (1749 – 1826), opened a shop together, eventually calling it Érard Fréres (also known as the house of Érard). Over the years, Érard obtained numerous patents on the pianoforte and harp.
"List of Romantic-Era Composers." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
Duchen, Jessica. "Top 20: The World’s Greatest Pianists." Sinfini Music. Sinfini Music, 23 April 2014. Web. 18 June 2015.
Solomon, Jon. "The Ten Best Jazz Pianists of All Time." Westword. Denver Westword, LLC., 27 Aug. 2013. 18 June 2015.
Sturm, Connie Arrau, Debra Brubaker Burs, and Anita Jackson, eds. "Annotated Bibliography of Sources on the History of Piano Technique and Piano Pedagogy." Piano Technique. Piano Technique.Net, n.d. Web. 18 June 2015.
Groves Music Online for Music Research. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015. Web. June – December 2015.