Sunday, May 04, 2008

Happy Birthday Bart!

Considering the immense impact the piano has had on the musical world over the past couple centuries, it amazes me that its inventor languishes in obscurity. Bartolomeo Cristofori was born on this day in 1655 and invented what we know as the piano circa 1700 in Florence. Prior to this, organs and harpsichords were the instruments of choice.

The piano as we know it today didn't acquire its cast-iron frame until the 19th century when they grew steadily larger and acquired that full, modern sound familiar to us today. J.S. Bach once criticized the instrument as too loud and difficult to play. It just didn't fit with instruments of the time like the harpsichord did. No worries, enter the likes of Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Liszt who picked up the instrument and ran with it. To think though, that Beethoven's and Schubert's sonatas, Chopin's preludes and Liszt's nocturne's may never have seen the light of day were if not for Cristofori's great gift to the world.