from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various precursors to the modern piano.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A keyboard instrument; the smaller, quieter, precursor to the pianoforte.


Italian, variant of pianoforte; see pianoforte.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • The fortepiano timbre didn't reveal any new secrets in the solo portions — Bach's writing is still very much modeled on harpsichord/clavichord virtuosity — but when providing a rippling accompaniment to the whole ensemble, the softer, subtler touch made for an invitingly plush sound.

    Authentication keys

  • Willis, playing a David Sutherland copy of a 1730s Florentine fortepiano, brought a string quartet to the stage with him for three of Bach's keyboard concertos.

    Authentication keys

  • But the new series started off strong, with fortepiano contributions from Andrew Willis and BEMF favorite Kristian Bezuidenhout.

    Authentication keys

  • In the living room, men and women of middle age nibbled at nuts and flatbreads around a fortepiano.

    The Velvet Reformation

  • The wiry, plangent sound of Kurosaki's 1801 violin is perfectly complemented by the percussive but singing tone of Linda Nicholson's Viennese fortepiano, especially effective in the powerful C minor Sonata Op 30 No 2.

    Beethoven: violin sonatas vol 4, op 30 nos 1 - 3; violin sonatas 'Kreutzer' op 47, no 10 op 96

  • This was a revival of John Cox's enchanting 2005 staging, with a fine young cast and a small, accomplished orchestra, the sound brightened with imaginative and prominent fortepiano-led continuo.

    The Pearl Fishers, Le Nozze de Figaro

  • The CD by the Ghielmi brothers surprisingly features a fortepiano rather than a harpsichord as its cembalo continuo, on the reasoning that Bach was familiar with very early models of the fortepiano (invented in 1698) and is even known to have played the instrument.

    Album reviews: 17th century works for viola da gamba

  • Whatever the musicological arguments for or against a fortepiano may be in these works, it is fascinating to hear how the instrument changes the way the three viola da gamba sonatas and excerpts from "The Well-Tempered Clavier" sound.

    Album reviews: 17th century works for viola da gamba

  • The combined sonority of Vittorio Ghielmi's 1688 viola da gamba (by Michel Colichon) and Lorenzo Ghielmi's 1996 copy of a 1749 Gottfried Silbermann fortepiano is not only fascinating but also highly effective -- in a way that use of a later fortepiano (much less a modern piano) would not be.

    Album reviews: 17th century works for viola da gamba

  • And yes, "cembalo" could at the time refer to a fortepiano as well as to other keyboards.

    Album reviews: 17th century works for viola da gamba


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  • To the best of my knowledge, the fortepiano followed the harpischord and preceded the pianoforte. Thomas Jefferson purchased a fortepiano for his wife Martha in 1773, and reading the story was the first time I heard of the instrument.

    April 2, 2009