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Bartolomeo Cristofori and Lodovico Giustini in the History of Piano – Lyric Say

1685 was a very stellar 12 months for classical music, because it noticed the births of Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Frideric Handel, and Domenico Scarlatti. Nonetheless, there may be at the least another composer born in 1685 who performed a extremely important function within the historical past of music. He was the Italian composer, organist, and harpsichordist Lodovico Giustini (1685-1743), and he’s primarily remembered for his 12 Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmente di martelletti, Op. 1, (12 Sonatas for keyboard with loud and mushy, popularly referred to as with hammers). Supposedly printed in 1732, it’s the first identified work to have been particularly written for the pianoforte.

Lodovico Giustini

Lodovico Giustini

As everyone knows, the invention of the piano revolutionized the music world. The brand new instrument provided keyboardists unhampered musical expression, making it doable to fluctuate dynamics from mild whispers to forceful fanfares by altering the quantity of weight used when hanging the keys. Giustini didn’t have his hand within the invention of the piano; that honor goes to the Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1732).

Lodovico Giustini: 12 Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmenti di martelletti, Op. 1, “Sonata No. 1 in G minor” (Andrea Coen, fortepiano)

Lodovico Giustini's 2 Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmente di martelletti, Op. 1, (12 Sonatas for keyboard with loud and soft, popularly called with hammers

Lodovico Giustini’s 12 Sonatas for keyboard with loud and mushy, popularly referred to as with hammers

Cristofori was energetic on the Florentine courtroom of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici, the place he took care of an intensive instrument assortment. In control of tuning and sustaining harpsichords, Cristofori started to experiment with a hammer-action keyboard instrument able to dynamic gradations. It’s not clear when or why Cristofori began his experiments, or whether or not it was a part of his courtroom accountability. We do know, nevertheless, that by 1700, a “newly invented harpsichord-like instrument with hammers and dampers having a range of four octaves” was formally described. The brand new instrument sparked important curiosity, and it’s reported that two pianos had been offered in Florence, and “another was owned by Cardinal Ottoboni in Rome.” By 1711, the Italian poet Scippione Maffei printed an illustrated description of Cristofori’s piano, and a translation of that article began to flow into north of the Alps. Gottfried Silbermann’s pianos—those he launched to J.S. Bach—are carefully modeled on a Cristofori prototype.

Lodovico Giustini: 12 Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmenti di martelletti, Op. 1, “Sonata No. 8 in A Major” (Kikuko Ogura, harpsichord)

Bartolomeo Cristofori

Bartolomeo Cristofori

Solely three authentic Cristofori pianos have survived the ravages of time. A 1720 mannequin is housed in New York, a 1722 instrument is situated in Rome, and a Leipzig assortment holds a 1726 instrument. These surviving devices “exhibit Cristofori’s tremendous ingenuity. He had grasped the technical crux of piano engineering, incorporating intermediary levers between hammer and key lever, back checks, the separation of soundboard from stress-bearing functions of the case sides and hitch pin rails, as well as many other technical subtleties.” Whereas the harpsichord retained its place for a few years to come back, the “pianoforte” was slowly gaining floor. It was definitely extremely prized as an object of status amongst European the Aristocracy. When soon-to-be Queen Maria Barbara left for Spain in 1729 to marry the longer term Ferdinand VI, she introduced alongside her keyboard trainer Domenico Scarlatti, and as many as 5 pianos. Her father, the Portuguese King João V, was enamored with the brand new instrument, and Scarlatti additionally gave keyboard classes to his youthful brother Dom António de Bragança.

Lodovico Giustini: 12 Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmenti di martelletti, Op. 1, “Sonata No. 5 in D Major” (Luca Guglielmi, harpsichord)

Pianoforte's escapement action

Pianoforte’s escapement motion

Giustini devoted his 12 Sonatas, supposedly printed in 1732, to the Infante Dom António. The version is prefaced in Italian by a letter of dedication written by the Benedictine monk Dom João de Seixas, “who claims to have seen the sonatas during a visit to Italy.” A latest publication describes the sonatas as “attractive compositions in early classic style that exhibit an interesting mixture of influences from Italian keyboard music, the Italian violin sonata, and French harpsichord music.” This publication attracted little curiosity on the time, and it’s doable that the “publication of the work was meant as an honor to Giustini, representing a gesture of magnificent presentation to a royal musician, rather than an act of commercial promotion.”

Lodovico Giustini: 12 Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmenti di martelletti, Op. 1, “Sonata No. 10 in F minor” (Enrico Maria Polimanti, piano)

Pianoforte invented by Cristofori, 1720

Pianoforte invented by Cristofori, 1720

Latest analysis means that “although the only source of the sonatas is a print dated Florence, 1732, it is clear that the print could only have appeared between 1734 and 1740. It was probably disseminated out of Lisbon and not Florence.” Be that as it might, Giustini’s sonatas make use of all of the expressive capabilities of the brand new instrument, similar to broad dynamic contrasts. As well as, the brand new instrument was not solely able to taking part in loudly and softly, it was additionally able to taking part in crescendo and decrescendo, which Giustini indicated with instructions similar to “più forte” and “più piano.” Regardless of Giustini’s publication, the pianoforte solely gained actual traction a number of a long time later. By the late 1780s, nevertheless, the instrument had essentially reworked the live performance corridor and the newbie music market as nicely.

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Mieczysław Horszowski Performs Lodovico Giustini

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