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Who Invented The Piano?

We have started discussing in some of our other blog posts that there were several instruments which are predecessors of the piano; the Clavichord, Harpsichord and the Dulcimer. However what made that final push to creating the piano? This is a quick blog post explaining who actually invented the piano and why! Continue reading to find out more.

Who Invented The Piano?

The above is a photo of a 1726 portrait made of Bartolomeo Christofori, the inventor of the piano. Christofori was born in Padua (Italy) in 1655 and died in Florence 1732 and was known as an accomplished keyboard player and harpsichord maker. He is largely credited with the invention of the piano which he originally called gravicembalo col piano e forte, or “harpsichord that plays soft and loud.” Over time this has been shortened to just the piano.

Chistofori is said to have invented the piano because he was unsatisfied with the control that a keyboard player had over the dynamics and musical expression of the harpsichord. He achieved this distinction by changing the plucking motion in the harpsichord with hammers that hit the strings in the piano. His original name gravicembalo col piano e forte, is a literal expression of his desire to be able to play with greater dynamic control.

Christofori moved to Florence in 1690 to work for Prince Ferdinando de'Medici who was a skilled Harpsichordist. Christofori remained in the service of the Medici family for the rest of his life and in 1709 is credited with the invention of the piano. Although it took him a further few years, by 1726 the piano had all of the same main features of instruments today.

The biggest difference to modern instruments is that the frames were still wooden and so did not have the tension to create the depth and volume that we have today. They also had approximately 4 octaves as opposed to the modern instruments which largely have between six to seven octaves.

Three examples of Chistofori's work still exist today in various museums around the world: a 1720 instrument in the Metropolitan Museum New York; a 1722 instrument in the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Rome; and 1726 example in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum, Leipzig University.

As with most artistes CHristofori's work on the piano was largely ignored by his Italian counterparts, however the design was taken up with the Germans who are some of the best piano makers today.

We hope that this quick read on Who Invented The Piano? has helped you to gain an understanding of who invented the piano and why. Continue to read our blog to help you gain information on other piano facts and questions.


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