The history of the piano, and his technique born, of course in close relation with the others keyboard instruments especially with the clavichord, his predecessor. The transition from the clavichord to the piano bring to us very interesting information about piano technique and the problems that the musician from that time had to confront. The piano technique, the works for piano, the composers, recitals, auditions and all around the piano history have absolute relation with the manufacture and progress of the instrument construction and the possibilities that the piano could give to pianist and composers. At the same time the piano was showing up, a new music style was emerging.
It was the homophonic style, the Style Galant. Even though the pianoforte was invented in the early part of the eighteen-century it had to wait some decades to be widely known and accepted by musicians and manufactures. Bartolommeo Cristofori, a harpsichord-maker from Padua invented the new instrument in 1709. It constructed the device, in Florence, in which hammers activated strings and he called it a gravicembalo col piano e forte, explaining that it could play soft and loud. Around 1730 Gottfried Silberman n builds few of them in Germany and them he could show them to Johann Sebastian Bach who didn't pay much attention thinking maybe that the instrument was no yet to compete with the clavichord for example.
Of course Bach was a great clavichord, harpsichord and organ player and his point of view and his technique were from those instruments. About this and from Bach biographer and also by looking at his keyboard music we could guess that his playing must have featured complete independence of hands and fingers. His biographer adds, "Bach is said to have played with so easy and so small a motion of the fingers that it was hardly perceptible. Only the first joints of the fingers were in motion; the hand retained, even in the most difficult passages, its rounded form; the fingers rose very little from the key, hardly more that in a trill, and when one was employed the others remained quietly in position." But although we could have some information about how he played keyboard instrument in those times the piano came too late to J S Bach and also to other greats composer like Handel and Scarlatti.
The first known examples of music composed to piano or gravicembalo are a series of sonatas by Ludovico Giustini in 1732 and The first public piano recital was given by one of Bach sons, Johann Christian Bach in England in 1768 although he gave prior demonstrations. The piano had been invented in Italy but the rest of Europe would be in charge of the manufacture and development of the instrument. The first big difference from manufacturers appeared between England and Vienna's pianos. The Viennese was light in action, with relatively little carrying power, and virtually no pressure was needed to depress the keys.
The English piano was bigger, more heavily strung, more brilliant and not so easily to manipulate. Also it have to be added that in German was almost unknown the use of pedal whereas in England pianist had adopted an own style where included the use of a large pedal. During the development of the piano, it took pianist time to forgot about harpsichord or clavichord technique and concentrate on what the piano had to offer. This involved complete reorientation in fingering, in touch, in the basic philosophy of sound. J S Bach and maybe Domenico Scarlatti had probably worked out the basic principles of modern fingering, but Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Christian Bach were who had a real contact with the new instrument. They composed and codified keyboard technique of their times.
Mozart knew stein's pianofortes in one of his tours in 1777 and he was very surprised, he adopted immediately starting to compose for pianoforte since that year. He had a Clavichord technique but he was fascinated with it and also he interested very much in its construction. Anton Walter of Vienna made the fist piano of Mozart around 1784 and it had no pedal but Walter built a pedal attachment to him, operated by the foot and not the knee that was common in those times. In his short life Mozart was a virtuoso who share the same feature with Clementi. Mozart was one of the first great pianists and it is said that he had a excellent clarity and he was proud about his legato but it was the playing of Clementi that was to prepare for the next generation and for the modern piano technique. Before Clementi, for example, most passages were not played legato unless specifically marked.
He broke away completely from eighteenth-century notions of binding notes together only when they were marked. Clementi, contrarily to Mozart, who died in 1791, could live enough to enjoy the envelopment of the piano. He was born in Rome in January 23, 1752 and developed into one of the most interesting and colorful musicians of the period. He lived in England and was a successful pianist in all Europe and eventually he became a piano manufactured selling his pianos for the entire continent. But also he was a prolific composer, with over twenty symphonies, a hundred of sonatas (sixty for piano) and his Gradus ad Parnassus (1817) consisting in a hundred of studies covering every aspect of the modern piano technique. The first important touring virtuoso was Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812).
He constantly moved from France, to England, to Russia. He implemented new characteristics in piano playing and in concerts halls. He was the first to sit with his right side to the audience exhibiting the bow of the piano and using the raised lid of the instrument as a sounding board, throwing tone directly into the auditorium. He also investigated the resources of the pedals and was the first who indicated pedaling in his own printed music. His fingerings were far in advance of his day, anticipating in the use about shifting fingers on the same key, so as to get a pure legato and he could play the new six-octaves piano in public in 1794. John Baptist Cramer born in Germany in 1771 but lived in England since he was one year old.
He was a Clementi's student who started touring shortly. He did not make too many concert appearances but he had a big reputation at the same time of Dussek. He was one of the first pianists to play music not of his own composition. Whereas Dussek captivated by charm and incipient romanticism, Cramer turned out to be the most classic of the classicists and he never relaxed his stringent classicism. Other popular pianists of the late eighteenth century were Joseph Gelinek, who was the most popular pianist in Vienna until Beethoven came along; Leopold Koseluch, other pianist whom Mozart had some compliments and who was disturbed by Beethoven arriving; Josef Wolff l, who came to Vienna from Salzburg in 1795, had studied with Leopold Mozart and Michael Haydn and had enormous hands; and Daniel Steibelt, a famous charlatan of those times but who is recognized for add several things to the pedal technique.
But all those pianists had to confront with Beethoven when he arrived to Vienna from Bonn. Beethoven was advanced in the piano playing at his time. He came with his rough and overwhelming playing for those times and his surprising improvisations, he was broking all the law in name of the expression. Pianos were no safe with him, he broke more pianos than anybody in Vienna and he played only his music with few exceptions. He admired Clementi and C P E Bach as classic masters but he was creating a new school of piano playing. He was plagued of piano problems and for most of his life he used Viennese pianos at first a five-plus octaves and then a six octaves instrument.
In 1818 he received a magnificent grant piano with a range of over six octaves but by that time his hearing was gone.