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PIANO TIMELINE

History Of The Piano

Tracing the roots of the piano to the very beginning of consciousness, when man first became aware of sound.

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Page 7 of 29 pages

1768, Bach Zumpe Recital

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.

1768, Érard

Portrait of Sébastien Érard, by H. Pottin, in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
Portrait of Sébastien Érard
by H. Pottin. 1

Sébastien Érard (1752 – 1831) arrived in Paris. He apprenticed under a harpsichord-maker until his talents surpassed his master, which led to his subsequent release. He then worked for another instrument-maker who commissioned him to build an instrument that would be hailed by all of Paris. With his reputation cemented, the Duchesse de Villeroy became his patron and provided him with a workshop, fulfilling Érard’s desire to remain independent.

Page Sources

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[1]
Pottin, H. and uploaded by Mu.  "Portrait of Sébastien Érard."  Print.  Original in Bibliothèque Nationale de France.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 9 March 2008.  Web.  9 Oct. 2015.  Public Domain.
Additional References:
  • "Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History."  Met Museum.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 – 2015.  Web.  15 Sept. 2015.
  • Centre Sébastien Erard.  Centre Sébastien Erard, n.d.  Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
  • Waller, John Francis, et al.  The Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography: A Series of Original Memoirs of Distinguished Men, of All Ages and All Nations, Part 4.  Edinburgh: William Mackenzie, 1857.  Google Books.  Web. 15 Sept 2015.
  • Dolge, Alfred.  Pianos and Their Makers: A Comprehensive History of the Development of the Piano from the Monochord to the Concert Grand Player Piano, Volume 1.  Covina: Covina Publishing Company, 1911.  Google Books.  Web. 15 Sept. 2015.

1770, Beethoven

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven, painted by Joseph Karl Stieler in 1820, in the Beethoven-Haus, Bonn, Germany.
Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven Composing the Missa Solemnis, by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820. 1

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827): German Composer, Pianist – Classical / Romantic Period

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[1]
Stieler, Joseph Karl, and uploaded by ADGE.  Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven When Composing the Missa Solemnis.  1820.  Beethoven-Haus, Bonn.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 25 May 2005.  Web.  15 Sept. 2015.  Public Domain.

1771, JB Cramer

Portrait of Johann Baptist Cramer, by William Sharp in the 19th Century.
Johann Baptist Cramer, 19th Century. 1

Johann Baptist Cramer (1771 – 1858): German Composer, Pianist, Publisher

  • Was a pupil of Clementi.
  • He owned an instrument manufacturing and music publishing firm named J.B. Cramer & Co.
  • His most famous work is Studies for the Piano (Studio per il pianoforte) (1804 and 1810), “considered a cornerstone of pianistic technique.” [ 2 ]

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[1]
Sharp, William, and uploaded by Mu.  Portrait of Johann Baptist Cramer.  19th C. Joseph Muller Collection of Music and Other Portraits, New York Public library, New York.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.,  29 Jan. 2011.  Web.  21 Sept. 2015.  Public Domain.
[2]
Graue, Jerald C., and Thomas Milligan.  "Cramer: (2) Johann Baptist Cramer."  Oxford Music Online.  Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.

1775, Behrent's Forte

Advertisement for John Behrent's newly built pianoforte, 1775.
1775 Advertisement in the "Pennsylvania Packet" for John Behrent's Pianoforte. 1

It is believed that John Behrent (a German or Swiss immigrant) from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania built the first pianoforte in the United Colonies, soon to be United States of America. The Revolutionary War of Independence presumably preempted any further development of Mr. Behrent manufacturing musical instruments.

John Behrent, Joiner and Instrument Maker, living in Third-street continued, in Campington, directly opposite Coates's Burying-ground, Has just finished for sale, an extraordinary fine instrument, by the name of Piano Forte, of Mahogany, in the manner of an harpsichord, with hammers, and several changes: He intends to dispose of it on very reasonable terms; and being a master in such sort of work, and a new beginner in this country, he requests all lovers of music to favour him with their custom, and they shall not only be honestly served, but their favours gratefully acknowledged, by their humble servant, John Behrent.
John Behrent from Dunlap's Pennsylvania Packet 2

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[1]
Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet or, The General Advertiser  Vol. IV., Numb. 177 13 March 1775.  Newspapers.Com.  Web.  27 Sept, 2019.  No Known Copyright Restrictions.
[2]
Ibid.
Additional References:
  • Drummond, Robert Rutherford, Ph.D.  Early German Music in Philadelphia. New York: University of Pennsylvania, D. Arthur & Company, publishing agents, 1910.  Google Books.  Web.  27 Sept. 2019.

1777, Érard

Érard built his first five-octave bichord piano (presumably based on the Zumpe Square) for the Duchesse de Villeroy.

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Additional References:
  • Macnutt, Richard.  "Erard."  Oxford Music Online.  Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.

1777, Stein Praise From Mozart

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

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[1]
Palmieri, Robert, ed.  The Piano: An Encyclopedia.  2nd Edition.  New York: Routledge, June 1, 2004: pg. 240.  Google Books.  Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

1778, Hummel

Portrait of Johann Nepomuk Hummel.
Portrait of Johann Nepomuk Hummel. 1

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778 – 1837): Pressburg born Austrian Pianist Prodigy, Composer, Teacher, Conductor – Classical Period

  • Student of Mozart, Haydn & probably Clementi.
  • Considered a rival of Beethoven’s.
  • “What kind of teacher was Hummel? They found a kind and caring teacher who could guide them through every aspect of piano performance with thoroughness, clarity, and experience. Moreover, they found in Hummel a future mentor and loyal friend. In other words, they got Hummel the artist and the man.” [ 2 ]
  • His piano methods are published in the three volume work A Complete Theoretical and Practical Course of Instruction on the Art of Playing Pianoforte, From the First Elementary Instruction on to a Complete Education (Ausführliche theoretisch-practische Anweisung zum Piano-Forte-Spiel, vom ersten Elementar-Unterrichte an, bis zur vollkommensten Ausbildung.) (1828). Comprised of 2000 exercises with advice for parents and teachers as well as posture, position, note reading, finger exercises, and style, theory, “it remains one of the most important sources of information about the late Viennese style of performing…” and is considered a “pianistic bible for generations.” [ 3 ]
  • As a teacher he was concerned with voice, texture and fingering, and used his own compositions for instruction.
  • Some of his pupils: Ferdinand Hiller (1811 – 1885), Julius Benedict, and Eugénie Beer.
  • Influenced Chopin and Mendelssohn.

Page Sources

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[1]
Kjetil.  "Portrait of Johann Nepomuk Hummel (Bratislava, 1778 - Weimar, 1837) Austrian composer and pianist, Engraving."  Engraving.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.,  6 Feb. 2006.  Web.  21 Sept. 2015.  Public Domain.
[2]
Kroll, Mark.  Nepomuk Hummel: A Musician’s Life and World.  Lanham: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., 2007: pg. 248.  Google Books.  Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
[3]
Sachs, Joel, and Mark Kroll.  "Hummel, Johann Nepomuk."  Oxford Music Online.  Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.
Additional References:
  • Dubal, David.  The Art of the Piano: Its Performers, Literature, and Recordings.  Revised and Expanded Edition.  New Jersey: Amadeus Press, LLC, 2004.  Google Books.  Web.  15 Sept. 2015.
  • "The Hummel Project."  J.N. Hummel.  Orpheus & Bacchus, 2009.  Web.  15 Sept. 2015.

1779, Érard

Érard built a harpsichord known as the clavecin mécanique. Soon after he started successfully marketing his five-octave pianos.

1781, House Érard

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.

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