What did the piano look like 300 years ago? What about 500 years ago?
I’ll give you a hint: it looks nothing like the modern piano– it was a different instrument altogether.
So what happened? How did the piano start out and how did it come to be the modern piano? I’ll answer these questions below.
Here’s the smart guide to the piano’s history over the years, complete with amazing visuals.
(Feel free to share with everyone you know.)
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History notes for Bartók, 20th Century Composer: complete with Bartók’s life, works, contributions, influences, and musical styles.
- Bartók (1881 – 1837) was born in Sînnicôlau Mare (Hungary). When Czechoslovakia was formed, Bartók and his mother were on opposite sides of the border.
- Bartók’s father died when Bartók was young, thus he was raised by his mother, who first taught him piano.
- From 1899 – 1903, Bartók attended the Budapest Academy.
- In 1905, Bartók began collecting folk music with Zoltán Kodály, a Hungarian composer. This collection of folk music was published in 1907.
- In 1908, Bartók taught at the Budapest Academy, although the main task of his life was to collect, analyze, catalogue folk music.
- Bartók married in 1911, but was divorced at after 11 years, to marry Ditta Pastorzy, his piano student, immediately after. The couple had a son, for whom Bartók composed Mikrokosmos.
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History notes for Liszt, Romantic Era Composer: complete with Liszt’s life, works, contributions, influences, and musical styles.
- Liszt (1811 – 1886) was born in Raiding, Hungary, and died in Bayreuth.
- Liszt’s father, Adam, played the cello in the local orchestra, and taught Liszt how to play the piano. He was employed as a secretary of Prince Estérhazy and asked for extended leave to further Liszt’s music education. Later on, Liszt studied with Salieri and Czerny.
- At age 12, Liszt was a music prodigy and played with established professionals in the field. He applied to the Paris Conservatory but was not accepted– instead, he studied with Paeer and Reicha in Paris.
- In 1833, Liszt met Comtesse Marie D’Agoult, who wrote under the pen name Daniel Stern. They had three children together over the next decade, although the two never married because she was already married. They lived in Switzerland until their parting. From 1839 – 1847, Liszt toured around Europe performing, achieving such fame which was unheard of at the time. The Lisztomania swept Europe like a storm.
- In 1847, he met the Tsar’s sister, Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein, and retired from the performing stage. By retiring while still at the prime of his virtuosity, Liszt’s virtuosity was forever preserved in the hearts of his fans. He took up a conducting post in Weimar and spent his time writing and rewriting his pieces, becoming the figurehead for the “New German School” (“Neudeutsche Schule”).
- Liszt studied theology and became a lay cleric; he began the Conservatory of Music in Budapest and was elected its first president at age 50.
- Liszt caught pneumonia at age 56 while attending his daughter Cosima’s Wagner fest, and died.