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Grand Piano

Bartolomeo Cristofori (Padua 1655–1731 Florence)

Date:
1720
Geography:
Florence, Italy
Medium:
Various materials
Dimensions:
Case length (perpendicular to keyboard) 228.6 cm, Width (parallel to keyboard) 95.6 cm, Case depth without lid 23.5 cm, Total height 86.5 cm, 3-octave span 49.6 cm, L. of longest string 188.6 cm, L. of shortest string 12.0 cm, L. of c2 27.9 cm
Classification:
Chordophone-Zither-struck-piano
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
89.4.1219
  • Description

    Bartolomeo Cristofori was the first person to create a successful hammer-action keyboard instrument and, accordingly, deserves to be credited as the inventor of the piano. This example is the oldest of the three extant pianos by Cristofori. About 1700 he began to work on an instrument on which the player could achieve changes in loudness solely by changing the force with which the keys were struck. By 1700 he had made at least one successful instrument, which he called "gravicembalo col piano e forte" (harpsichord with soft and loud). His instrument still generally resembles a harpsichord, though its case is thicker and the quill mechanism has been replaced by a hammer mechanism. Cristofori's hammer mechanism is so well designed and made that no other of comparable sensitivity and reliability was devised for another seventy-five years. In fact, the highly complex action of the modern piano may be traced directly to his original conception.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Marking: 1) (on bottom rail supporting intermediate levers) I

    2) (in ink on present hammer rail, possibly originally the nameboard) BARTHOLOMAEUS DE CHRISTOPHORIS PATAVINUS INVENTOR FACIEBAT FLORENTIAE · MDCCXX

    3) (in ink at left of hammer rail) Restaurato l'Anno 1875/ da Cesare Ponsicchi/ Firenze.

  • References

    Susan Alexander-Max in Domenico Zipoli: Sonate d'Intavolatura per Organo e Cimbalo (1716). CD. Recording., Albany Records. 2004.

    Written by, Edited by Charles Mould. "The Gatti-Kraus Piano Action Ascribed to Bartolomeo Cristofori." The Galpin Society Journal (2002), vol. LV, pg. 277.

    Written by. The Pianoforte in the Classical Era. 1998 Clarendon Press. Oxford, 1998, pg. 8-11, 16, 18, 324, 325.

    The Early Pianoforte. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, Great Britain, 1995, pg. 63, 65, 66, 67, 69, 76, 77, 78, 79, 82, 83, 84, 91, 93, 94, 95, 115, 116, 153, 154, 155, fig. see Remarks, ill.

    Makers of the Piano, 1700-1820. Oxford University Press. Oxford, UK, 1993, pg. 80.

    "Keyboard Instruments." Summer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1989), Vol. 47, No. 1, pg. 34-35, ill.

    Keynotes: Two Centuries of Piano Design. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pg. 6-7, fig. 3, ill.

    "The Pianos of Bartolomeo Cristofori." Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society (1984), vol. X, pg. 33, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 51, 52 ,53, 54, 58, 59, 63, ill.

    Mieczyslaw Horszowski in Sonatas for Pianoforte by Lodovico Giustini. LP. Recording., Titanic Records M1812. 1979, vol. II.

    Mieczyslaw Horszowski in Sonatos for the Pianoforte by Lodovico Giustini. LP. Recording., Titanic Records M1803. 1979, Volume 1.

    "Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1978), Vol. XXXV, No. 3, pg. 7, ill.

    James Bonn , keyboards, David Hart , flute in Historic Instruments in Performance. LP. Recording., Pleiades Records M1808. 1977.

    Malcolm Bilson , piano, Sonya Monosoff , violin in Historic Instruments in Performance. LP. Recording., Pleiades Records M1807. 1977.

    Historical Pianos, Clavichords and Harpsichords. N. E. Michel, Publisher. Pico Rivera, CA, 1970, pg. 104, ill.

    Keyboard Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Picture Book. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1961, pg. 37-39, fig. 20, ill.

    Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Historical Groups, Gallery 39. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1905, pg. 134.

    Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1904, vol. I, pg. 91, ill.

    Catalogue of Keyboard Instruments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1903, pg. 123,125, ill.



  • See also
501788:3

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