The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano

by Elizabeth Rusch and Marjorie Priceman

Bartolomeo Cristofori, master instrument maker and tuner for the Medici family in... read more

Bartolomeo Cristofori, master instrument maker and tuner for the Medici family in 18 th -century Italy, had an ear finely tuned to the notes of the quiet clavichord and robust harpsichord as well as many other instruments. Unfortunately, no matter how the notes were struck, the clavichord made only soft sounds, and the harpsichord only loud ones. Inspired by violins and violas, Cristofori set out to invent a keyboard instrument that could achieve the same range of volume. He experimented with hammers, strings, and other materials before crafting his first pianoforte—an instrument that he continued to refine until his death, but which wasn’t fully appreciated until years later. Accompanied by bright, playful illustrations, each section of the narrative includes musical direction tracking the story’s arc: “Crescendo (becoming louder)” as Cristofori begins his employment at court, for example. Frequent, direct quotations from primary sources are included on several pages, and additional resources include a timeline, extensive notes on the author’s primary and secondary sources, and facts about Cristofori’s and modern pianos. A thoroughly researched, engaging account of the instrument’s origin. (Ages 7-10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018

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