Hidden treasures

Bartolomeo Cristofori: the Padua-born man who invented the piano

Did you know that...

Bartolomeo Cristofori: the Padua-born man who invented the piano

Did you know that the inventor of the piano hailed from Padua? That’s true and his name was Bartolomeo Cristofori.

Bartolomeo Cristofori was born in Padua on 4 May 1655 by Francesco and Laura Cristofori. We do not know much about his life in Padua other than it was precisely here that young Bartolomeo learned how to craft harpsichords, violins and organs. His work as a harpsichord maker earned him such a great reputation that he was visited in his workshop in Padua by Prince Ferdinando de Medici, son of the then Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III, a great lover of musical instruments and esteemed cembalist. Impressed by Bartolomeo’s abilities, the Prince asked him to move to Florence and work for the Medici Court. Bartolomeo Cristofori accepted and in 1688 he moved to Florence.

Whilst in Florence, Bartolomeo worked on the musical instruments of the grand-ducal family and created new keyboard instruments by introducing a new feature that eventually revolutionized the history of music: he replaced the ‘salterelli’, which plucked the strings, with hammers that instead struck them and included an 'escapement' mechanism that made them go back into their original position. The innovations he made transformed the harpsichord into an instrument with dynamic capabilities that could, for the first time, be controlled by the performer who this way had control over the volume of the sound.

Precisely thanks to these brilliant modifications and a 1770 court document in which the first historically reliable reference of the piano is found, we can say that Bartolomeo Cristofori is to be considered the inventor of this wonderful instrument, at the time called ‘fortepiano’.

Cristofori first built three fortepiano models, and others in the following decades: currently, three pianos survive at the Museum of Musical Instruments in Rome, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museum of Musical Instruments of Leipzig University.

He continued to work at the Medici court even after Ferdinand's death, thus perfecting his fortepiano. He also worked with Giovanni Ferrini, who later became one of the most important makers of what would become the modern piano, the result of successive improvements in materials and technique.

Interesting, isn't it? Then don't miss the many little curiosities that are hidden in between the walls and the streets of the city of Padua! Plan with us your personalized guided tour of Padua and discover the wonders of this ancient Venetian city!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: 'Duri i banchi!': the meaning of a famous motto in Venice

Figures of speech

The Venetians are a people of workers, proud and deeply attached to their city, and for these reasons, they never surrender to hardship...


Venice: Coronavirus is not (fortunately) Venice’s new plague

Historical Curiosities

As recently as a month ago the Coronavirus or COVID-19 started to affect our lives causing much disruption. It appeared precisely in ou...


Venice: History of the Queen of Venice Carnival: Frittella!

Local Traditions

It is Carnival time...and what could be better than biting into a soft and tasty Venetian frittella? Frittella, ‘fritoea or fritola...


Venice: The legend of Melusina and the stone heart of Sotoportego dei Preti

Mysteries & Legends

February: the feast of lovers is approaching and you are thinking of relishing magical experiences together with your better half in Ve...


Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...


Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...


Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...


Verona: The roman walls of Verona

Historical Curiosities

Verona has always been considered a city of considerable importance from a military point of view: being at the mouth of the Adige Vall...