Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/728

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be quoted as practical witnesses to its efficacy. The earliest diagram of it is that attached to Robert Stodart's patent of 1777, for a combined pianoforte and harpsichord, in which we first encounter the designation 'grand' applied to a pianoforte. We give it here, with a diagram of Messrs. Broadwood's grand action of the present time—the dampers omitted in both cases.

Fig. 8. (1777.)

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Fig. 9. (1880.)

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The differences in the two cases are in the proportions and form of the parts: the principle is the same in both, the only addition in the present action—and that not essential—being a strip of felt beneath the butt of the hammer, to assist the promptness of the checking. The differences of both from that of Cristofori are evident and important. The second lever or underhammer is done away with, and the jack, g, now acts directly in a notch of the butt, n. The regulating button and screw controlling toe escapement are at gg. Simplicity and security are combined.

The earliest public notice of a pianoforte in England is in the year 1767, when a Covent Garden playbill[1] chronicles its first appearance in an orchestra, under date of May 16, as an accompanying instrument. After Act I of the Beggar's Opera the bill announces that 'Miss Brickler will sing a favourite song from Judith, accompanied by Mr. Dibdin, on a new instrument call'd Piano Forte.' As a solo instrument it appears to have been used for the first time in London on June 2, 1768, at the Thatched House, by John Christian Bach.[2] In 1770, Mr. Burney, nephew of Dr. Burney, was appointed 'to the pianoforte' at Drury Lane. We do not know what pianos they were, or of whose make. They may have been by Backers, but to have had his new action we should have to put back Mr. Broadwood's earliest date.

During the period ending with 1770, the first division to be observed in the history of the pianoforte, there had been no composition devoted to and proper to the instrument; and there could have been little or no real pianoforte playing. The new instrument was too unimportant as compared with the harpsichord, and in its then condition presented to the touch differences too essential, and difficulties too obstinate, to permit of the perception of those remarkable attributes upon which the highest style in writing and treatment was ultimately to be based. The earliest piece which we have met with naming the pianoforte, and that only generally, is 'Duetto fur zwey Claviere, zwey Fortepiano oder zwey Flügel,' by Müthel, Riga, 1771.[3] There is an undated work by John Christian Bach naming the instrument, which may possibly be equally early in date. The first real pianoforte music was published in London in 1773. This was the famous op. 2 of Muzio Clementi (3 Sonatas), composed three years before, when he was only eighteen years old. In these pieces the young composer divined the technique and instrumental treatment to which the pianoforte was responsive, and there founded the true school of pianoforte-playing.

We have dwelt thus long upon London, not merely because this is an English Dictionary, but because at this epoch London held the first place in harpsichord and pianoforte making. In the decade 1765–75 there can be no doubt about the importance given to the square piano by Zumpe, and the final start given to the grand piano by Backers; soon to be the means of success to Broadwood and to Stodart, who had helped him in his invention. The great harpsichord makers, Jacob Kirkman and Burkhard Shudi.[4] had at this time brought their noble instruments to the highest point of development and excellence; and the harpsichord was now endowed with a storehouse of noble compositions, from which the pianoforte, having as yet none of its own, had for a time to borrow. We can understand how little these eminent makers, having realised fortune and done their work in life, would care for the new instrument and its improvement. It would be to them as aggravating as the Sonatas and Symphonies of Beethoven doubtless were to the aged Haydn. But with J. C. Bach, Schroeter, and Clementi on the one side, and Backers, Stodart, and Broadwood

  1. In Messrs. Broadwood's possession.
  2. Pohl's 'Haydn in London.
  3. Emmanuel Bach posslbly wrote 'pianoforte' upon his title-pages before this. Gray, writing to Mason in 1763, says: 'Send for six lessons for the pianoforte or harpsichord of Carlo Bach, not the Opera Bach, but his brother.' Correspondence, p. 314.
  4. Shudi had his name properly written, Tschudi, on the Potsdam harpsichords.