The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal.
Steinway & Sons has been building pianos for 150 years, and in today's world of mass-production, the expression "fine craftsmanship" is nearly as extinct as the dinosaurs, so visiting this unique setting was a rewarding experience.
The harpsichord was wing-shaped and thus, in that regard, the forerunner of the modern grand piano. But what was to be the great benefit of the piano over these earlier instruments was the musician's ability to control the volume. It was the percussive action, and not plucking, that was to allow this feature.
The modern piano evolved as the result of a series of improvements. Jonas Chickering, for example, was granted the first patent in 1837 for his metal frame, the strength of which allowed for much heavier strings, which in turn gave the instrument a "larger" tone.
In the 19th century, hundreds of American companies made pianos, and thousands of workers in the East were involved in piano making, from felt makers to string cutters. Now only eight manufacturers remain in the United States, and few craftsmen familiar with 19th-century pianos are alive.
Square pianos, which were the most popular style produced in the 19th century, dominate the museum's collection. They are actually rectangular. Their strings fan out alongside the keys and are nearly parallel to the front. In contrast, a grand piano's strings are parallel to the keys, and an upright's strings are perpendicular to them.
In 1836 The German cabinet and piano maker Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg builds his first piano in the kitchen of his home in Seesen, Harz. 482 more pianos are to follow within the next decade.
Piano manufacturing was once big business in the Junction, a fact that few people know, said the West Toronto Junction Historical Society's (WTJHS) Pat Trusty.
In fact, the Heintzman piano company was a well-known name 30 years ago, said Trusty.
The average medium size piano has 230 strings which the tension is 165 pounds each and approximately 18 tons if they're combined. Wow, that's the medium size piano. How about the concert grand one? The total strings tension is close to 30 tons!
Pianos built before the twentieth century frequently displayed intentionally wide ranges of tone color: an instrument might sound velvety when played softly, reaching a clarion brilliance at the loud end of its dynamic range; high and low registers on one piano might be like voices or instruments in small ensembles, sounding good together, but maintaining individual character.
The year 1709 is the one most sources give for the appearance of an instrument which can truly be called a "Pianoforte." The writer Scipione Maffei wrote an article that year about the pianoforte created by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1732), who had probably produced four "gravicembali col piano e forte" or harpsichords with soft and loud.
It is of course the players of the pianos who bring them to life, and, according to Isacoff, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was “the first piano superstar,” the child prodigy whose “concertos changed the piano’s standing.”