The History of the Piano Essay

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The History of the Piano

The piano has seen many sights and has been a part of countless important events in the past and present, and is said to have dominated music for the past 200 years (Welton). Throughout history, inventions come along that "take art away from princes and give it the people" (Swan 41). Not unlike the printing press, the piano made what was once intangible possible: the poorest of peasants could enjoy the same music that their beloved rulers did. The piano can be played by "the rankest of amateurs, and the greatest of virtuosos" (Swan 41); so even if a person is not very intelligent, a simple tune can easily be learned. In addition to being a key factor in almost all western music styles, the
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However, the harpsichord was limited to one, unvarying volume. Its softness and loudness remained the same while playing. Therefore, performing artists could not achieve the degree of musical expression of most other instruments. The artistic desire for more controlled expression led directly to the invention of the piano, on which the artist could alter the loudness and tone with the force of his/her fingers (129).
The first piano appeared in Italy sometime around 1693, originally named the gravicembolo col piano e forte ("the harpsichord with loud and soft"). An Italian harpsichord-maker named Bartolomeo Cristofori "replaced harpsichord's jacks with leather covered hammers, activated by a remarkable mechanical system" (Hollis 51). Where the harpsichord could only make a string produce one sound, the new piano could be played loud or soft, make dynamic accents, and could produce gradations of sounds (52). Even though this new invention attracted little attention at the time (because of the existing popularity of the harpsichord), the piano would captivate the world in the years to come. Cristofori made only two pianos before he died in 1731, but an article was written about the new invention, and the article made it's way to Germany. There, an organ-builder named
Gottfried Silbermann read the article and became fascinated with the idea of a modified harpsichord (Hollis 54). Additionally,
Silbermann had
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