Antique Pianos History
Antique pianos offer a very unique musical experience to each pianist. The joy of playing lasts forever. About 300 years ago the first known pianoforte came into existence. Bartolomeo Cristofori, born 1655, worked in Florence as a musical-instrument maker. Cristofori was primarily a harpsichord builder but around 1698 he presented a newly designed hammer-action instrument to Prince Ferdinando de Medici that was capable of increasing and decreasing volume. He built about 20 of these hammer harpsichords which later became known as pianoforte and fortepiano.
Another harpsichord builder who expanded on Christofori’s invention was Gottfried Silbermann. Silbermann’s grand pianoforte was well received by many influential musicians of the day. John Andreas Stein was also a contributor to improving the pianoforte. Mozart was one of many that utilized Stein’s instruments. In 1777 Sebastein Erard built pianofortes in France. Erard is known for inventing the repetition lever which is still used in modern grand pianos to this day.
During the late 1700’s a pianoforte builder from Germany named Christian Ernst Friederici built a Tafelklaviere which later became known as the square pianoforte even though it was rectangular in shape. Square grand’s were very popular during the mid to late 1800’s and many were made by the first manufacturer’s in the U.S. including Steinway & Sons, Chickering, Knabe, Weber and many more. These antique pianos are popular even today. Many customers decide to have antique piano restoration completed on these beautifully sculptured square grand pianos.
Frederici also designed a pianoforte in a vertical position called the Pyramidenflugel. These were very fantastic looking instruments and were instrumental in the development of antique upright pianos. Upright pianofortes came on the market after 1800. Quality upright pianos eventually took over the square grand in popularity by the middle of the 19th century. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s many high quality upright pianos were produced especially in the United States by many well know manufacturer’s such as Baldwin, Bush & Gerts, Chickering, Everett, J&C Fischer, Ivers & Pond, Knabe, Marshall & Wendell, Mason & Hamlin, Mathushek, Henry F. Miller, Charles M. Stieff, and Wing & Son just to name a few. After the great depression many manufacturer’s vanished from the market and very few survived. Today these antique pianos are a true treasure to preserve and allow for a look back at the pianos heritage, tradition and quality of design over the last three centuries and more.