« AnteriorContinua »
wages of piano-makers are five francs leading musical instrument of Christenper day; in London, ten shillings; in dom. England produces thirty thouNew York, four dollars and thirty-three sand every year; the United States, cents. The cream of the business, in twenty-five thousand ; France, fifteen Paris, is divided among three makers, thousand ; Germany, perhaps ten thou— Erard, Hertz, and Pleyel, — each of sand; and all other countries, ten whom has a concert-hall of his own, thousand ; making a total of ninety to give éclat to his establishment. thousand, or four hundred and twentyWe presume Messrs. Steinway added two for every working-day. It is com“Steinway Hall” to the attractions of puted, that an average piano is the New York from the example of their result of one hundred and twenty days' Paris friends, and soon the metropolis work; and, consequently, there must will boast a “Chickering Hall” as well. be at least fifty thousand men This is an exceedingly expensive form ployed in the business. And it is only of advertisement. Steinway Hall cost within a few years that the making of two hundred thousand dollars, and has these noble instruments has been done not yet paid the cost of warming, clean- on anything like the present scale. ing, and lighting it. This, however, is -Messrs. Broadwood, of London, who partly owing to the good-nature of the have made in all one hundred and twenproprietors, who find it hard to exact ty-nine thousand pianos, only begin to the rent from a poor artist after a los- count at the year 1780; and in the ing concert, and who have a constitu- United States there were scarcely fifty tional difficulty about saying No, when pianos a year made fifty years ago. the use of the hall is asked for a chari- We need scarcely say that the productable object.
tion of music for the piano has kept In Germany there are no manufac- pace with the advance of the instrutories of pianos on the scale of Eng- ment. Dr. Burney mentions, in his land, France, and the United States. History of Music (Vol. IV. p. 664), A business of five pianos a week ex
that when he came to London in 1744, cites astonishment in a German state, “ Handel's Harpsichord Lessons and and it is not uncommon there for one Organ Concertos, and the two First man to construct every part of a piano, Books of Scarletti's Lessons, were all
a work of three or four months. the good music for keyed instruments Mr. Steinway the elder has frequently at that time in the nation.” We have done this in his native place, and could at this moment before us the catalogue now do it. A great number of excel- of music, sold by one house in Boston, lent instruments are made in Germany Oliver Ditson & Co. It is a closely in the slow, patient, thorough manner printed volume of three hundred and of the Germans; but in the fashionable sixty pages, and contains the titles houses of Berlin and Vienna no Ger- of about thirty-three thousand pieces man name is so much valued as those of music, designed to be performed, of the celebrated makers of Paris. In wholly or partly, on the piano. By far the London exhibition of 1851, Russian the greater number are piano music pianos competed for the medals, some pure and simple.
It is not a very rare of which attracted much attention from occurrence for a new piece to have a the excellence of their construction. sale of one hundred thousand copies Messrs. Chickering assert, that the in the United States. A composer who Russians were the first to employ suc- can produce the kind of music that cessfully the device of “overstring- pleases the greatest number, may deing," as it is called, by which the bass rive a revenue from his art ten times strings are stretched over the others. greater than Mozart or Beethoven en
The piano, then, one hundred and joyed in their most prosperous time. fifty-seven years after its invention, in There are trifling waltzes and songs spite of its great cost, has become the upon the list of Messrs. Ditson, which
have yielded more profit than Mozart day. Additional strings involved the received for “Don Giovanni” and “The strengthening of the bow that, held Magic Flute” together. We learn from them; and, accordingly, we find the the catalogue just mentioned, that the Egyptian harps, discovered in the catacomposers of music have an advan- combs by Wilkinson, very thick and tage over the authors of books, in massive in the lower part of the frame, being always able to secure a pub- which terminated sometimes in a large lisher for their productions. Messrs. and solid female head. From the twoDitson announce that they are ready stringed bow to these huge twelveand willing to publish any piece of stringed Egyptian harps, six feet high music by any composer on the follow- and beautifully finished with veneer, ing easy conditions: “Three dollars inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl, per page for engraving ; two dollars no one can say how many centuries and a half per hundred sheets of paper; elapsed. The catgut strings of the and one dollar and a quarter per hun- harps of three thousand years ago are dred pages for printing.” At the same still capable of giving a musical sound. time they frankly notify ambitious The best workmen of the present time, teachers, that “not one piece in ten are assured, could not finish a pays the cost of getting up, and not harp more exquisitely than these are one in fifty proves a success.'
finished ; yet they have no mechanism The piano, though its recent develop- for tightening or loosening the strings, ment has been so rapid, is the growth and no strings except such as were of ages, and we can, for three thousand furnished by the harmless, necessary years or more, dimly and imperfectly cat. The Egyptian harp, with all its trace its growth. The instrument, in- splendor of decoration, was a rude deed, has found an historian, - Dr. and barbaric instrument. Rimbault of London, — who has gath- It has not been shown that Greece ered the scattered notices of its pro- or Rome added one essential improvegress into a handsome quarto, now ac- ment to the stringed instruments which cessible in some of our public libraries. they derived from older nations. The It is far from our desire to make a dis- Chickerings, Steinways, Erards, and play of cheap erudition ; yet perhaps Broadwoods of our day cannot lay a ladies who love their piano may care finger upon any part of a piano, and to spend a minute or two in learn- say that they owe it to the Greeks or ing how it came to be the splendid to the Romans. triumph of human ingenuity, the pre- The Cithara of the Middle Ages cious addition to the happiness of ex- was a poor thing enough, in the form istence, which they now find it to be. of a large P, with ten strings in the “I have had my share of trouble,” we oval part; but it had movable pegs, heard a lady say the other day, “but and could be easily tuned. my piano has kept me happy.” All therefore, a step toward the piano of ladies who have had the virtue to sub- the French Exposition of 1867. due this noble instrument to their will, But the Psaltery was a great stride can say something similar of the solace forward. This instrument was an and joy they daily derive from it. The rangement of strings on a box. Here Greek legend that the twang of Diana's we have the principle of the soundingbow suggested to Apollo the invention board, a thing of vital moment to the of the lyre, was not a mere fancy; for piano, and one upon which the utmost the first stringed instrument of which care is bestowed by all the great makwe have any trace in ancient sculpture Whoever first thought of stretchdiffered from an ordinary bow only in ping strings on a box may also be said having more than one string. A two- to have half invented the guitar and the stringed bow was, perhaps, the first violin. No single subsequent thought step towards the grand piano of to- has been so fruitful of consequences as
this in the improvement of stringed in- Queen Elizabeth's instrument, the struments. The reader, of course, will Virginals, was a box of strings, with not confound the psaltery of the Mid- improved keys, and mounted on four dle Ages with the psaltery of the He- legs. In other words, it was a small brews, respecting which nothing is and very bad piano. The excellent known. The translators of the Old Pepys, in his account of the great fire Testament assigned the names with of London of 1666, says : “River full which they were familiar to the music of lighters and boats taking in goods, cal instruments of the Jews.
and good goods swimming in the waAbout the year 1200 we arrive at the ter; and only I observed that hardly Dulcimer, which was an immense psal- one lighter or boat in three that had tery, with improvements. Upon a harp- the goods of a house in it, but there shaped box, eighteen to thirty-six feet were a pair of virginalls in it.” Why long, fifty strings were stretched, which “a pair”? For the same reason that the player struck with a stick or a long- induces many persons to say a pair handled hammer. This instrument was of stairs,” and “a pair of compasses," a signal advance toward the grand piano. that is, no reason at all. It was a piano, without its machinery. It is plain that the virginals, or vir
The next thing, obviously, must have gin's clavichord, was very far from holdbeen to contrive a method of striking ing the rank among musical instruthe strings with certainty and evenness; ments which the piano now possesses. and, accordingly, we find indications of If any of our readers should ever come a keyed instrument after the year 1300, upon a thin folio entitled “ Musick's called the Clavicytherium, or keyed Monument,” (London, 1676,) we advise cithara. The invention of keys per- him to clutch it, retire from the haunts mitted the strings to be covered over, of men, and abandon himself to the and therefore the strings of the clavi- delight of reading the Izaak Walton cytherium were enclosed in a box, in- of music. It is a most quaint and custead of being stretched on a box. The rious treatise upon “the Noble Lute, first keys were merely long levers with the best of instruments," with a chapter a nub at the end of them, mounted on a upon “the generous Viol,” by Thomas pivot, which the player canted up at the Mace, “one of the clerks of Trinity Colstrings on the see-saw principle. It has lege in the University of Cambridge." required four hundred years to bring Master Mace deigns not to mention the mechanism of the piano key to keyed instruments, probably regarding its present admirable perfection. The keys as old sailors regard the lubber's clavicytherium was usually a very small hole, - fit only for greenhorns. The instrument, an oblong box, three or “Noble Lute," of which Thomas Mace four feet in length, that could be lifted discourses, was a large, heavy, potby a girl of fourteen. The clavichord bellied guitar with many strings. We and manichord, which we read of in Mo- learn from this enthusiastic author, that zart's letters, were only improved and the noble lute had been calumniated by better-made clavicytheria. How affect- some ignorant persons; and it is in ing the thought, that the divine Mozart refuting their calumnious imputations had nothing better on which to try the that he pours out a torrent of knowlravishing airs of “The Magic Flute” edge upon his beloved instrument, and than a wretched box of brass wires, upon the state of music in England in twanged with pieces of quill! So it is 1675. In reply to the charge, that the always, and in all branches of art. noble lute was a very hard instrument to Shakespeare's plays, Titian's pictures, play upon, he gives posterity a piece of the great cathedrals, Newton's discove history. That the lute was hard once, eries. Mozart's and Handel's music, he confesses, but asserts that “it is were executed while the implements of now easie, and very familiar.” art and science were still very rude. * The First and Chief Reason that it
was Hard in former Times, was, Be- Its highest stretch. A 5th. is, that in cause they had to their Lutes but Few the midst of a Consort, All the ComStrings ; viz. to some 10, some 12, and pany must leave off, because of some some 14 Strings, which in the begin- Eminent String slipping. A 6th. is, ning of my Time were almost alto- that sometimes ye shall have such a gether in use ; (and is this present Year Rap upon the Knuckles, by a sharp1675. Fifty four years since I first edg’d Peg, and a stiff strong String, began to undertake That Instrument). that the very Skin will be taken off. But soon after, they began to adde more And 7thly. It is oftentimes an occasion Strings unto Their Lutes, so that we of the Thrusting off the Treble-Peghad Lutes of 16, 18, and 20 Strings; Nut, and sometime of the Upper Long which they finding to be so Great a Con- Head; And I have seen the Neck of an venience, stayed not long till they added Old Viol, thrust off into two pieces, by more, to the Number of 24, where we reason of the Badness of the Pegs, now rest satisfied ; only upon my The- meerly with the Anger and hasty Cholcrboes I put 26 Strings, for some Good ler of Him that has been Tuning. Now Reasons I shall be able to give in due I say that These are very Great InconTime and Place.”
veniences, and do adde much to the Another aspersion upon the noble Trouble and Hardness of the Instrulute was, that it was “a Woman's In- ment. I shall therefore inform you strument.” Master Mace gallantly ob- how ye may Help All These with Ease ; serves, that if this were true, he cannot viz. Thus. When you perceive any understand why it should suffer any Peg to be troubled with the slippery disparagement on that account, “but Disease, assure your self he will never rather that it should have the more grow better of Himself, without some Reputation and Honour."
of Your Care; Therefore take Him out, There are passages in this ancient and examine the Cause." book which take us back so agreeably He gives advice with regard to the to the concert-rooms and parlors of two preservation of the Lute in the moist hundred years ago, and give us such an English climate : insight into the musical resources of " And that you may know how to our forefathers, that we shall venture to shelter your Lute, in the worst of all copy two or three of them. The fol- weathers (which is moist) you shall do lowing brief ' discourse upon Pegs is well, ever when you Lay it by in the very amusing :
day-time, to put it into a Bed, that is “ And you must know, that from the constantly used, between the Rug and Badness of the Pegs, arise several In- Blanket ; but never between the Sheets, conveniences; The first I have named, because they may be moist with Sweat, viz. the Loss of Labour. The 2d. is,
&c. the Loss of Time ; for I have known “ This is the most absolute and best some so extreme long in Tuning their place to keep It in always, by which doLutes and Viols, by reason only of ing, you will find many Great ConvenienBad Pegs, that They have wearied out cies, which I shall here set down. .... their Auditors before they began to “Therefore, a Bed will secure from Play. A 3d. Inconvenience is, that all These inconveniences, and keep oftentimes, if a High-stretch'd small your Glew so Hard as Glass, and All String happen to slip down, t is in safe and sure; only to be excepted, great danger to break at the next wind- That no Person be so inconsiderate, as ing up, especially in wet moist weather, to Tumble down upon the Bed, whilst and that I have been long slack. The the Lute is There; For I have known 4th. is, that when a String hath been slipt several Good Lutes spoil'd with such a back, it will not stand in Tune, under Trick." many Amendments ; for it is continu- We may infer from Master Mace his ally in stretching itself, till it come to work, that the trivial virginals were gaining in popular estimation upon the dinary Curious, may spend as much nobler instrument which is the theme as may maintain two or three Horses, of his eulogy. He has no patience with and Men to ride upon them too, if they those who object to his beloved lute that please. But 20s. per ann. is an Ordinary it is out of fashion. He remarks upon Charge; and much more they need not this subject in a truly delicious strain : spend, to practise very hard.”
“I cannot understand, how Arts and Keyed instruments, despite the reSciences should be subject unto any monstrances of the lutists, continued such Phantastical, Giddy, or Inconsid- to advance toward their present suerate Toyish Conceits, as ever to be premacy:
As often as an important said to be in Fashion, or out of Fash- improvement was introduced, the inion. I remember there was a Fashion, strument changed its name, just as in not many years since, for Women in our day the melodeon was improved their Apparel to be so Pent up by the into the harmonium, then into the orStraitness, and ness of their Gown- gan-harmonium, and finally into the Shoulder-Sleeves, that They could not cabinet organ. The virginals of 1600 so much as Scratch Their Heads, for became the spinet of 1700, — so called the Necessary Remove of a Biting because the pieces of quill employed in Louse ; nor Elevate their Arms scarce- twanging the strings resembled thorns, ly to feed themselves Handsomly; nor and spina, in Latin, means thorn. Any Carve a Dish of Meat at a Table, but lady who will take the trouble to mount their whole Body must needs Bend to- to the fourth story of the Messrs. Chickwards the Dish. This must needs be ering's piano store in the city of New concluded by Reason, a most Vnrea- York, may see such a spinet as Mrs. sonable, and inconvenient Fashion; Washington, Mrs. Adams, and Mrs. and They as Vnreasonably Inconsider- Hamilton played upon when they were ate, who would be so Abus'd, and little girls. It is a small, harp-shaped Bound up. I Confess It was a very instrument on legs, exceedingly coarse Good Fashion, for some such Viragoes, and clumsy in its construction, — the who were us'd to Scratch their Hus- case rough and unpolished, the legs like bands Faces or Eyes, and to pull them those of a kitchen table, with wooden down by the Coxcombes. And I am castors such as were formerly used in subject to think, It was a meer Rogery the construction of cheap bedsteads of in the Combination, or Club-council of the “trundle " variety. The keys, howthe Taylors, to Abuse the Women in ever, are much like those now in use, That Fashion, in Revenge of some of though they are fewer in number, and the Curst Dames their Wives.”
the ivory is yellow with age. If the Some lute-makers, this author in- reader would know the tone of this anforms us, were so famous in Europe, cient instrument, he has but to stretch that he had seen lutes of their making, a brass wire across a box between two “pittifull, old, batter'd, crack'd things," nails, and twang them with a short that were valued at a hundred pounds pointed piece of quill. And if the sterling each ; and he had often seen reader would know how much better lutes of three or four pounds' value the year 1867 is than the year 1700, he “far more illustrious and taking to a may first hear this spinet played upon Common eye.” In refuting the“ in Mossrs. Chickering's dusty garret, persion that one had as good keep a and then descend to one of the floors horse (for cost) as a Lute," he declares, below, and listen to the round, full, brilthat he never in his life “took more liant singing of a Chickering grand, than five shillings the quarter to main- of the present illustrious year. By as tain a Lute with strings, only for the much as that grand piano is better than first stringing I ever took ten shillings.” that poor little spinet, by so much is He says, however: “I do confess the present time better than the days Those who will be Prodigal and Extraor- when Louis XIV. was king. If any