A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe. Oxford University Press, Barile, Mary et al.
Early years[ edit ] At the time of its origin around the year the piano was a speculative invention, produced by the well-paid craftsman and inventor Bartolomeo Cristofori for his wealthy patron Ferdinando de MediciGrand Prince of Florence. As such, it was an extremely expensive item.
For some time after its invention, the piano was largely owned by royalty e. Even later on, i. Visiting music masters taught their children to play the piano. Pianos and women[ edit ] Both Parakilas  and Loesser  emphasize a connection during this period between pianos and the female gender; piano study was apparently more common for girls than boys.
Nevertheless, women were considered more attractive and desirable if they could play the piano. The piano was a symbol of social status, and the ability to play the piano stood as a testament to a woman's marriageability.
Following her marriage to Charles DarwinEmma still played the piano daily, while her husband listened appreciatively. A number of female piano students became outright virtuose, and the skills of woman pianists inspired the The piano history essay of HaydnMozartand Beethovenwho dedicated difficult-to-play works to their woman friends.
The spread of the piano[ edit ] When the piano was invented init failed to catch the public's attention due to its expense and the fact that the harpsichord was the preferred instrument of the time.
While there he refined Cristofori's piano, introducing separate sections of black keys as well as treble and bass capabilities. This new piano was extremely difficult to play, and very few people learned how to play the instrument because of this.
That changed when Zumpe convinced Johann Christian Bachthe personal music master to Queen Charlotte and an international celebrity, to purchase and play on a Zumpe piano for the first ever Zumpe piano concert in Because of Bach's fame, the piano soon replaced the harpsichord as the predominant instrument of the time, and later composers such as Mozart and Beethoven chose to play on a Zumpe piano.
The turn of the 19th century also saw the rise of the middle class in the Western world. This middle class was eager to showcase their social status, and it became the proper Victorian man's goal to shower his wife and daughters with leisure time and leisure activities, as leisure was a symbol of social status.
Consequently, the piano, which was often used for leisure, stood as a testament to a family's position on the socioeconomic ladder. This increase produced a corresponding rise in the domestic importance of the piano, as ever more families became able to afford pianos and piano instruction.
The piano also became common in public institutions, such as schools, hotels, and public houses. As elements of the Western middle-class lifestyle gradually spread to other nations, the piano became common in these nations as well, for example in Japan.
To understand the rise of the piano among the middle class, it is helpful to remember that before mechanical and electronic reproduction, music was in fact performed on a daily basis by ordinary people.
For instance, the working people of every nation generated a body of folk musicwhich was transmitted orally down through the generations and sung by all.
The parents of Joseph Haydn — could not read music, yet Haydn's father who worked as a wheelwright taught himself to play the harpand the Haydn family frequently played and sang together. With rising prosperity, the many families that could now afford pianos and music adapted their home-grown musical abilities to the new instrument, and the piano became a major source of music in the home.
Amateur pianists in the home often kept track of the doings of the leading pianists and composers of their day. Professional virtuosi wrote books and methods for the study of piano playing, which sold widely. The virtuosi also prepared their own editions of classical works, which included detailed marks of tempo and expression to guide the amateur who wanted to use their playing as a model.
Today, students are usually encouraged to work from an Urtext edition. The piano compositions of the great composers often sold well among amateurs, despite the fact that, starting with Beethoven, they were often far too hard for anyone but a trained virtuoso to play well.
Evidently, the amateur pianists obtained satisfaction from coming to grips with the finest music, even if they could not perform it from start to finish. These were frequently arrangements of orchestral works, and in the days before recordings served to spread knowledge of new orchestral music to places lacking an orchestra.
Sometimes members of the household would sing or play other instruments along with the piano. This practice was often a part of courtshipfor performing music together—particularly in the presence or at least earshot of other members of the household—was one of the few "respectable" ways for a young man and young woman from "good" families to be together.
Parents whose children showed unusual talent often pushed them toward professional careers, sometimes making great sacrifices to make this possible. Artur Schnabel 's book My Life and Music  vividly depicts his own experience along these lines, which took place in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late 19th century.
Steinway Welte-Mignon reproducing piano The piano's status in the home remained secure until technology made possible the enjoyment of music in passive form.
First the player piano c. During the Great Depression of the s, piano sales dropped sharply, and many manufacturers went out of business.Try Our Friends At: The Essay Store.
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