Inside the Music | Piano Technology | Early Romantic | Classical

During the first years of the nineteenth century piano technology progressed at an astonishing rate. The range of notes was extended by two and a half octaves, the sustaining pedal and soundboard were developed, and in England the idea of using metal bracing to bear the tension of the strings was explored, enabling thicker strings and a fuller tone.

The repertory naturally reflected these developments in technology. The piano’s new responsiveness was suited to powerful, showy concert works as well as to expressive, intimate salon pieces. Virtuoso performers such as Liszt and Chopin exploited the piano’s potential in different ways. Liszt’s bold and powerful approach created quasi-orchestral textures, while Chopin had a more profound understanding of the instrument and was famed for his long, sustained, almost vocal right-hand melodies. Simul­taneously the role of the instrument in piano concertos, quartets and quintets, as well as in song, grew from being a mere accompaniment to being an equal partner in a musical dialogue. In Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Piano Quintet, for example, the piano part is integrated with the textures of the strings, and has a high, light part that balances the weight of the double bass.

Styles & Forms | Early Romantic | Classical
Inside the Music | Making Instruments | Early Romantic | Classical


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