Interesting Piano Facts
On this page we offer a growing list of little known piano facts. Stuff you probably do not know and maybe a few things that you do know. We hope you will find this list very helpful and entertaining. Please bookmark it since more piano facts will be added from time to time.
Here's the piano facts:
1. The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Christofori in Italy in 1698. Some authorities may place the year around 1700 or 1709. Christofori's main contribution was the action, which is the inside mechanism that strikes the strings. He was actually a harpsichord maker. In fact, his action was very crude by todays standards and it took over 150 years of improvements by various makers to develop todays modern piano action.
2. The piano was derived from the harpsichord and clavichord.
3.Modern pianos usually have 88 keys, but its a fact that over the years the number of keys has varied between 44 and 97.
4. Some uprights in the 1800's and early 1900's were nearly as tall as the length of a baby grand.
5. The spinet piano was first introduced in 1935. The console style also came out about the same time.
6. A spinet was first made in the late 1700's, but the style did not catch on in the United States for over 150 years. And it was mainly by name only since the early spinets were not really exactly the same as the 1935 invention. By 1935 the piano business was fully developed. And then because of mass production, pianos were more affordable for the average person.
7. In 1910 there were hundreds of piano makers in the U. S. alone.
8. In 1911 there were 364,000 pianos built and sold in America!! Ragtime piano music was the rage. I'm sure this fact helped sales.
9. Currently (2012) there are as few as 3 or 4 piano makers on American soil. This means that there may be only about 5000 new US instruments built per year. That's a sad fact. From 364,000 to only 5,000!
10. Over the last 25 years or more, Asian makers have dominated sales in America. This along with rising costs is what helped run our US plants out of business. Dozens of American piano factories have closed. But even the sales of this foreign competition have drastically dropped in the last few years. Total number of new US, Asian and European units sold every year in America is less than 100,000. Since the start of the economic downturn this figure could be as low as 60 or 70 thousand. That's for the entire US!!!
11. The piano used to be called the "King of Instruments". I think we should re-establish it's crown!!
12. In the 17 and 18 hundreds mostly only the wealthy could afford a piano. That's almost a fact right now. Prices are rising.
13. The Fazioli concert grand made in Italy is 10'-2" long and is currently the largest grand made in the world. It weighs over 1500 pounds.
14. If you wish to keep the inside of your piano in good shape, it should be tuned once or twice every year for the life of the instrument. That's a fact!!!
15. It currently(2012)costs between 99 to 120 dollars to get your piano tuned. More in some areas. Call 901-827-3609 in the Memphis TN area.
16. The Bosendorfer piano company, Est. 1828, is in Austria. Their Imperial concert grand is 9' 6" and has 9 extra bass keys. The total number of keys is 97. Kimball in America owned Bosendorfer from 1966 to 2002. Production in 2008 was 381 pianos.
17. The world's longest grand piano was made by the Chas. H. Challen company in England. It was 11' 8", has 30 tons of string tension and weighs 2000 lbs. Challen is now made in Malaysia.
18. A Steinway concert grand (9 feet long) currently (2012) sells for over $130,000.
19. The price of a new piano, because of inflation, doubles about every 15 years. At that rate a $130,000 concert grand in 2027 will cost $260,000, and in 2042 may cost over half a million!!! The smaller pianos, grands and uprights, will also be double in price. Do you think our income will raise to match the inflation?? I believe, in the future, only the extremely wealthy will buy pianos. Just like back in the 1700's and 1800's.
20. The piano is in the percussion family of instruments. This is because the felt hammers strike the strings.
21. Pianoforte is the full name first given to the piano. It means soft and loud. Later shortened to just "piano"
22. The average piano has about 220 strings. Concert grands may have over 250 strings.
23. There are millions and millions of used pianos in the United States. Even though sales numbers are very low recently(2012), there was about a one hundred year period in America in which sales averaged between 200,000 to 300,000 new pianos sold per year. This includes foreign made instruments. Just put your calculator to that!
Please note that we have only averaged these figures. For instance, during the great depression, annual sales for a few years may have dropped as low as 50 or 60 thousand sales per year. On the other hand many years before and after the great depression sales were over 300,000 a year. And for several years now, sales have been under 100,000 new sales per year in the US.
24. What about all those used pianos out there? A piano can easily last 75 to 100 years or more. Every day in almost every city in America there are used pianos for sale.
25. Pianos were one of the first items sold on credit in America.
26.In the early 1900's you could order a piano from a Sears catalog.
27.The first piano built in the US was in 1775. Since the piano was invented in Europe, they had a 75 year head start on us. America soon caught up and went on to build some of the world's greatest pianos. Steinway is one example.
28. Up until about the 1980's many department stores and a few mall stores sold pianos in their showrooms.
We will add more piano facts later. Plus a few more opinions.
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Solo piano music for weddings and parties in the Memphis TN area. Jazz combo also available. Call: 901-827-3609