The genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is often associated with the piano, but the brilliant musician and composer actually composed his masterpieces on a harpsichord. The harpsichord and clavichord are the ancestors of what we know today as the piano.
The clavichord was developed in the early 1300s and is mentioned in records kept for the household of King Henry VII of England. It was constructed of wood, with strings and keys similar to the piano, but the strings were plucked by metal blades called tangents.
Amazingly, the clavichord has been played for over 700 years. While it has had peaks and valleys in its popularity, it remains among the instruments played by contemporary musicians such as Stevie Wonder, Bjork, and Paul McCartney.
In the 1500s, the harpsichord became popular and classical composers such as Handel, Bach, and Mozart composed songs for the harpsichord. The harpsichord also has a keyboard like the piano and clavichord but sound is made by plucking the strings. Use of these three instruments overlapped and were not mutually exclusive.
The piano we all know and love has 88 keys, 52 white keys and 36 shorter black keys. Despite the fact that the piano is a stringed instrument, it is classified as part of the percussion family because sound is made by a hammer that strikes the strings rather than the strings being plucked.
There are two styles of piano: the grand piano and the upright piano. The grand piano or baby grand are typically used for concerts while the upright version is more likely to be in private homes. This perennially popular instrument can be heard in music of most any genre. In addition to classical music, the piano is part of the sounds of jazz, pop, rock, country, and the blues. Its sound is as appropriate for religious services as it is for rock concerts.
No matter what occasion you’re planning, Bialek’s Music represents talented pianists who represent every genre of music. Call Bialek’s Music at (301) 340-6206 in the Washington DC area, or at (410) 484-7978 in the Baltimore area to set up an appointment or go to our website at www.bialeksmusic.com.