A Second Chance For Pianos

The piano was a music technology breakthrough when it was first invented around the 17-18th century – although there had been similar designs of instruments (harpsichord, hammered dulcimer), the piano was remarkable in the range of expression it allowed…

Staying In Key

The invention of the piano is generally credited to the Italian, Bartolomeo Cristofori, (1655–1731) of Padua. There is no specific date agreed upon as the piano’s birthday, but it was certainly around the turn of that century. The name itself comes from the then-remarkable ability of the device to play loud or soft – these being the Italian words forte and piano, combined to give the moniker pianoforte, which later became colloquially shortened to simply ‘piano’.

Despite some initial scepticism, the piano became a must-have instrument/item of furniture in homes around the world, and its popularity reached its peak about two hundred years after its creation. In the early 1800s, the piano was a status symbol reserved for the homes of the affluent (but not only the super wealthy – doctors, lawyers etc). However, by the start of the 1900s, piano production went into worldwide overdrive, and the mass production of pianos made them available to even fairly modest family homes.

The disadvantage of this, however, was that many of these instruments were not of particularly high quality – and today we are seeing a significant number of pianos being destroyed, simply because it’s not worthwhile refurbishing them.

A New Look At The Piano

The BBC has an interesting piece on the piano market; although many western amateur pianists now prefer digital pianos for their smaller footprint (and ability to be used with headphones), the traditional piano market is booming in China.

As an alternative use of retired pianos, the Piano As Art project was founded by Penny Putnam and Shauna Holiman of the Greenwich Art Society, and does pretty much what it says on the tin – repurposing old pianos into new artworks. If you can’t bear to see your unplayable piano turned onto the scrapheap, perhaps there might be some new life to be found here…


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