The History of the Piano – From the Baroque period to the present day. *Playing Liszt’s Liebesträume No.3 If you follow my channel, you are probably a huge fan of this instrument, the Piano. But do you know the history behind it? It took several years for the piano to become this beautiful 88-key instrument, with three pedals and rich dynamics. The main popular keyboard instrument before the piano came along was the Harpsichord, which was a very interesting instrument, but precise dynamics simply weren’t possible to be played, because the strings are plucked by plectrums made from feather shafts. In the Harpsichord, if you press a key with great force, the instrument will likely fail to produce sound, otherwise, pressing the key with too little force will produce the same result, which limits the instrument’s expressiveness. It was right at the end of the 17th century that the by then Harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori, which worked as a musician and instrument builder for the Medici family in Florence, had the brilliant idea of swapping the action of the Harpsichord and creating an action using hammers covered in sheepskin. The experiment resulted in an instrument with a much more mellow sound, and with great dynamic possibilities, which he called Pianoforte It was called Pianoforte because the dynamic range went from Piano (Which in italian meants “Soft”) *Plays Piano* and Forte (In Italian, “Loud”) Posteriorly, the instrument would be known by it’s abbreviated name: Piano. The first piano was built between 1699 and 1700, and fortunately, some of the pianos built by Cristofori have survived the test of time, and date around the year 1710. One of which you can see in the picture. However, this instruments were very basic compared to modern pianos. Things got more interesting in 1783, when englishman John Broadwood created the Soft and Sustain pedals (The latter also called the Forte pedal). Back in the day, these devices were knee-activated, not “pedals” per say, you had to lift the knee, to activate a kind of lever, situated right below the keyboard, making the reverse movement of today, activating a pedal. Later, in 1821, Sébastien Érard created the first double escapement (Repetition) mecanism. *Demonstrates on the Piano* Well. Over a period of almost 100 years, the Piano disputed it’s place with the Harpsichord, but was only after the 1750s that it became equally important as it’s plucked string counterpart. And finally, by the end of the 18th century, and beginning of the 19th century, that the piano started to replace completely the Harpsichord, and take it’s place for good. A little after that, in 1807, Pleyel was founded by Ignace Pleyel, and became the world’s largest piano manufacturer by then. It was the first company to produce pianos in mass scale, and introduced important elements which would be indispensable to consolidate the modern instrument Pleyel introduced the first upright piano (Correction: It was Johann Schmidt in the 1780s), it was the first to use a metal plate to sustain the string tension, which before that pianos were completely built from wood. From Chopin to Debussy, all of them had Pleyel Pianos. And it was in the half of the 19th century that the piano explosion began in Europe. A lot of builders arose during this era. This explosion in sales of piano, and the appearance especially of German builders, lasted all the way up to the Second World War. It’s very likely that, that German Piano with yellowed keys sitting in your Grandmother’s house is from this era, from the late-half of the 19th century to the early 1940s. Remembering that older pianos normally have yellowed keys because they were made from ivory, which is the case with this Piano *Shows old Barthol Piano* In the 1960s, Pianos started to the manufactured with plastic keys, which is the case with this Yamaha *Shows Yamaha Piano* A lot of musicians say that ivory feels better to play, and that the fingers don’t slip as much, I also like a lot the feel of ivory keys, but I’m glad that elephants have stopped being hunted for their husks. Well, continuing with our timeline: Finally in the 20th century big names of the Piano manufacturers came along and took over the concert halls, specially Steinway & Sons. It was in this era that the Piano became the instrument we know today, with 88 keys, three pedals and a sofisticated mecanism. Another change since the Cristofori piano, is that today Piano hammers are covered with felt, not by sheepskin. Also, the modern piano has 88 keys. Cristofori’s piano only had 49. In reality, not a whole lot has changed since the later-half of the 19th century. The last big change was the addition of three keys in the upper register. This 1915 Piano has 85 keys, this one from 2015 has 88. Notice that this one has 3 additional keys: B-flat, B natural and C. *Shows on the Piano* We can conclude that the modern piano, as we know it today, exists for over 150 years, and has changed little since then. The older piano, the ones from the 19th century back are considerably different from the modern ones, and to distinguish them, we refer to them as Fortepianos. They are still used in Period Concerts, with period instruments. They have a very distinct sound that matches well with the music of Mozart, Haydn and Scarlatti. And that’s it. I hope you liked it. If you want to learn to play the piano, look up the Lord Music Academy. There you’ll find my Piano courses (basic and intermediate) and our latest release: the Basic Theory course. The link to these courses are in the description. See you in the classes! Bye!