Musical Instruments: Fortepiano/Pianoforte/Piano


Fortepiano by Paul McNulty after Walter & Sohn, ca. 1805

Fortepiano designates the early version of the piano, from its invention by the Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori around 1700 up to the early 19th century. It was the instrument for which Haydn, Mozart, and the early Beethoven wrote their piano music. Starting in Beethoven’s time, the fortepiano began a period of steady evolution, culminating in the late 19th century with the modern grand. The earlier fortepiano became obsolete and was absent from the musical scene for many decades. In the 20th century the fortepiano was revived, following the rise of interest in historically informed performance. Fortepianos are built for this purpose today in specialist workshops.

A 1720 fortepiano by Cristofori in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is the oldest surviving piano.

The pianoforte, known generally as the piano, was developed during the 18th century. A keyboard instrument, it is distinguished from the harpsichord by its hammer action, with hammers striking the strings when keys are depressed. Dynamic change is possible by applying more or less force to the keys. The instrument underwent a number of technical changes during the century and in the years following became the most popular instrument of domestic entertainment.

Modern pianos have two basic configurations (with subcategories): the grand piano and the upright piano.

Vertical piano strings run up and down with an overall height of 36 to 60 inches. There are basically 4 different types of vertical pianos.

Vertical Pianos

Sizes of Upright Pianos


The shortest upright piano size ranges from 36″ – 40″ in height. Spinet upright pianos are the popular choice of many people who live in limited living spaces, such as apartments.



Slightly larger than the spinet upright piano, its height ranges from 40″ to 44″. The console piano gained popularity in the early to mid-1900s as a piano that incorporated furniture style design with mid-range size and quality tone.



The most common size of the upright pianos ranging from 43″ to 47″. The studio upright piano is the most common size piano you see in educational and practice settings. Most studio pianos have direct actions, surpassed in accuracy and efficiency only by grand piano actions.


The tallest of upright piano sizes ranges from 47″ to 52″ but, there are very few still built taller than 52 inches. Of all the upright pianos the professional upright piano can be most compared to a grand piano.


Horizontal Pianos

Sizes of Grand Pianos

Model SBaby Grand 

The most popular and one of the smallest grand pianos is the baby grand piano. The baby grand piano ranges in size from 5’0 to 5’4.  The baby grand piano is a popular choice among those who have small living quarters, buying their first piano for a beginner, or for those who want a grand piano but have a budget to follow.


Model MMedium Grand

The length of a medium grand piano ranges from 5’5″ to 5’9″ in length. Medium grand pianos can be found in homes but, is also commonly found in institutional settings in the practice rooms of music schools.  Many pianist enjoy the medium grand piano because it doesn’t take up as much room as a small concert grand, yet it allows them more soundboard surface area and string length than a smaller baby grand piano.

Model OLiving Room Grand

A living room grand piano ranges in size from 5’10” to 6’1″. As you may have guessed from the name, the living room grand piano is found most often in large living rooms allowing the piano to be displayed in fullest.

Model AParlor Grand

The parlor grand piano or the smallest of concert grand pianos ranges from 6’2″ to 6’9″. The size of this piano is large enough to satisfy those who demand a full, rich bass—yet small enough to beautifully fit into almost any home. The parlor grand piano can be found in small recital halls or in recording studios that don’t have the space for a seven-foot grand piano or nine-foot concert grand piano.

Model BMusic Room Grand, Semi-concert or Ballroom Grand

The music room grand piano or medium concert grand piano is the choice of the top recording studios and the piano that a great number of Steinway artists have in their homes.  Ranging in length from 6’10” to 7’10” the music room grand can be found in small – midsize concert venues and in prominent institutional settings. One of the greatest advantages of the medium concert grand piano is the key length.  The key length of a medium concert grand piano is 21″ to 22″ which allows the pianist more control than any smaller piano. The Steinway model ‘B’ is often referred to as “the perfect piano.” When it comes to balance, beauty, and power, this incredible piano has no equal.

Model DConcert Grand 

Quite simply, this is the ultimate piano.  The concert grand is the piano you will find on-stage at major concert venues, symphony halls, and in the performance hall at major institutions.  At 9 feet in length, the concert grand piano is the overwhelming choice of the world’s greatest pianists. It has the power and projection to be heard in a 2000-seat concert hall—without the aid of a microphone. By many artists, pianists, and musicians the Steinway Concert Grand Piano – Model ‘D’ is widely considered the “ultimate piano”.



Beethoven – Für Elise – Piano & Orchestra

Arranged & Orchestrated by Georgii Cerkiin
Classic FM Orchestra
Conductor: Grigor Palikarov
Soloist: Georgii Cerkiin – piano

[wpsc_products product_id=’7641′]

[wpsc_products product_id=’7646′]
error: Content is protected !! Contact if you wish to download this content
%d bloggers like this: