#MetKids—What's the Story behind the World's Oldest Piano?

Take note! Join Sasha, age 10, as she reports from the Musical Instruments galleries to get the inside scoop on an instrument that changed music history.


#MetKids is a digital feature made for, with, and by kids!

About #MetKids

#MetKids Contributor: Sasha

Associate Curator and Administrator, Department of Musical Instruments: Jayson Kerr Dobney

Featured Artwork:
Grand piano made by Bartolomeo Cristofori

Kevin MacLeod, "Winter Chimes" (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Special thanks to the Department of Musical Instruments.

Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

© 2015 The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Sasha: Hi, I'm Sasha. I'm ten years old, and I'm from Brooklyn, New York.

I'm here in the Musical Instruments galleries with Jayson.

Jayson Dobney: My name is Jayson Dobney, and I am an associate curator here in the Department of Musical Instruments.

Sasha: I love music, and I play flute, piano, and guitar. I love it that the Museum has a whole Musical Instruments department.

Today let's take a look at the piano. The word "piano" was originally "pianoforte," which means "soft" and "loud" in Italian. And that is because the piano can play soft and loud sounds. This is the oldest piano in the world, invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in 1720.

Jayson Dobney: That's right, and it was invented in Florence, Italy. So he invented the instrument and then made a bunch of them. This is just the one that survives.

Sasha: What does it sound like?

Jayson Dobney: What does it sound like? Well, let's find out.


Sasha: Wow. What's the story behind the piano? Did Cristofori want to make a new instrument?

Jayson Dobney: Well as we said, the piano plays soft and loud, and Cristofori wanted a keyboard instrument that could play soft and loud to accompany singers and to accompany violinists. So he was not trying to invent a new instrument, he was trying to invent a harpsichord that could play soft and loud. But the result was the piano, and it changed music history.

Sasha: I like playing the piano because you can play so many songs on it. It's like you can play anything.

This is Sasha reporting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Take note, #MetKids!


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