American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A piano.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A musical instrument of the percussive group, the tones being produced by blows of hammers upon stretched strings, and the hammers being operated from a keyboard. , Essentially, the pianoforte is a large dulcimer with a keyboard; but historically it replaced the clavichord and harpsichord, which were keyboard-instruments more akin to the harp than to the dulcimer. The dulcimer has been known in some form from the earliest historic times. Several attempts were made during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to combine a keyboard with it, perhaps the most important being the pantaleone of Hebenstreit. The chief esthetic motive to these attempts arose from the fact that the keyboard-instruments then known were nearly or entirely incapable of gradation in the loudness of their tone; hence the new instrument, when invented, was called a piano e forte, a fortepiano, or a pianoforte, because its main peculiarity was that its tone might be made either loud or soft at the player's will. The earliest manufacture of pianofortes of which there is certain record was by Bartolo-meo Cristofori of Padua, about 1710. Various improvements have been and are still being made in details, but the essential elements of the mechanism have not been radically changed. These elements are as follows
- n. music A lesser used term for the piano (the musical instrument).
- n. a keyboard instrument that is played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike tuned strings and produce sounds
- Italian piano, soft, quiet + forte, loud, strong; the instrument can be played both softly and loudly (Wiktionary)
- Italian, from (gravecembalo col) piano (e) forte, (harpsichord with) soft (and) loud : piano, soft; see piano2 + forte, loud; see forte2. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“The earliest mention of the name pianoforte (_piano e forte_), applied to a musical instrument, has been recently discovered by Count Valdrighi in documents preserved in the Estense Library, at Modena.”
“The question of a pianoforte is rather a troublesome one, as my room is too small to hold any but a cottage piano, and cottage pianos are not to be hired, for some reason or other, but can only be bought, and that for not less than two hundred pounds, and it really does not seem worth while to go to such a heavy expense in such a matter.”
“A bust of Wagner stood in the corner, and on the wall behind the pianoforte was a large painting in sepia, dim, with strong lights and shadows.”
“It is not easy to say which of his many compositions for the pianoforte are the most important.”
“It is a pity that you have not a Schanz pianoforte, which is much more favourable to expression; my idea is that you should make over your own still very tolerable piano to Fraulein Peperl, and get a new one for yourself.”
“The pianoforte is the most universal musical instrument of the civilized world.”
“The essential foundation of the pianoforte was the metal strings, necessitating hammers for inciting the vibrations, and affording in the superior solidity incident to metal support a firmness and susceptibility to development.”
“The keyed instrument, of which our pianoforte is the living representative, had found its keyboard and a practical method of eliciting tones, which, whatever their weakness, were at least better than those of the lute, the chitarrone, the psaltery or harp.”
“As an illustration of Schubert's cleverness in treating the pianoforte, which is already sufficiently evident in the dramatic accompaniments of his larger songs, before mentioned, attention is called to the”
“Few English gentlemen (if any) could accompany their own songs on the pianoforte in my youth, Ida; most of them then had a wise idea that the pianoforte was an instrument 'only fit for women,' and would have as soon thought of trying to learn to play upon it as of studying the spinning-wheel.”
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