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The piano became more popular than ever in the history of the piano during the Romantic Era (approx. late 1700's-mid 1800's). With the social rise of the middle class, the piano also became the most favored instrument in the home.
Around 1800, the upright piano was invented.
It had a louder sound than the Square piano, which also had been a popular and practical instrument for the home, and did not take up too much space either so it was a suitable replacement.
The upright was the growing
middle class’ number one choice for the home.
For the daughters of the middle class family it was socially considered a real bonus to be able to play the piano. (As well as to be able to do some needlework and other suitable skills for a young lady…)
If you are interested more about the social history of the piano, here is a book I recommend: Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History (Dover Books on Music)
The romantic era generally bloomed with new inventions and often bizarre designs. (Think Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" ;- ). The piano was no exception.
Many crazy remodels of the piano took place - but finally the “classical” design of the first pianos, as well as the upright piano, has proven to survive with its simpler beauty until today.
Imagine if Bartolomeo Cristofori, who invented the piano, could have seen this "Harp Piano"!
The Player Piano was invented by Henri Fourneaux in 1863.
This piano can play by itself from piano rolls and intricate machinery that is kept in action by pedaling. (Great workout for the legs!)
The history of the piano and its development continues during the
20th century with improvements for an even more perfect and stronger
sound, scientifically and with masterly craftsmanship developed into the
fine instrument we have today.
The demand for perfection of sound in our days has a lot to do with the development of sound recording.
From the first gramophone discs in the early 20th century to the digital
recordings of today- there is an ever increasing demand for absolute
perfection in the quality of sound and tuning of the piano as well.
The development of the electronic piano keyboards during the second half of the 20th century and onward, is a chapter of itself.
This is a typical instrument of our own times; an “Electro-Phone”!
It is interesting to think about that the music that pianists often play today, by Beethoven, Bach and Mozart for example- was written for instruments very different from the rather heavy and loud instrument of today.
Would the earlier composers and pianists have liked the modern pianos of today?
I am not so sure… and no-one will ever know. But I do love our contemporary instrument! Don’t you? It suits our time, I guess. Loud and noisy!
The history of the piano is a story with roots going back over 2300 years …wow. What a connection to the past!
And this proud heritage is carried on worldwide throughout generations and in multiple styles and genres of music… imagine.
The piano truly is a most magnificent instrument! So, do we have Bartolomeo Cristofori, who invented the piano, to thank for this?
Well, even though he played and undeniably large part in the history of the piano, and has his name forever connected with the invention of the piano, we have to thank and think about all the inventors, instrument makers, musicians and composers throughout history.
They have all contributed, over thousands of years, to develop their efforts and struggles into the fantastic instrument we are blessed to be able to play today!