square piano.jpg

Square Grand Piano

Creator
Bartolomeo Cristofori
Date(s)
1760
Approximately 300 years ago, Bartolomeo Cristofori combined the hammered dulcimer with the harpsichord to create the pianoforte. In 1760, a piano was built were shaped like a rectangle, which would evolve in the 19th century into the square grand piano. These pianos were extremely heavy, with metal inside, much denser than previous pianofortes. These pianos were popular for the middle class to buy for almost 150 years. However, they have not been made for almost 125 years, supplanted by more effective pianos with better sound quality.
A square grand piano would likely be found in the parlor of a home, the center of life for the family. More often than not, girls were taught to play the piano for etiquette, to entertain guests at the house, and to court potential suitors. While music education was very important to middle class families in the 19th century, the piano was generally believed to be a feminine instrument—unless, of course, you were a concert pianist, who were, at the time, all male.
This piano was the focal point of many homes. When the square grand piano was made, its strings were strung from left to right: on the left were located the bass notes, and on the right, the treble. Shorter, lighter strings were attached on the right of the piano, and longer, denser strings made the deep bass sound on the left. When one strikes a piano key, a hammer flies up and hits these strings, retreating when one lifts the finger from the key. This allows the string to vibrate for as long as needed, at which time the damper stops the sound from reverberating.
Sources
Dobney, Jason Kerr. “Nineteenth Century Classical Music.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/amcm/hd_amcm.htm
Cantagrel, Gilles. “The Piano in 19th Century Society” last modified May 10, 2004. http://www.scena.org/lsm/sm9-8/piano-societe-en.htm
“Square Grand Pianos” accessed May 15, 2018. http://antiquepianoshop.com/square-grand-pianos/
“How A Piano Works” accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.frederickcollection.org/works.html
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