Audio Clips

Customers who swapped their harpsichords for early pianos may have gained a more fashionable sounding instrument, but it might not have looked much different in their home. This piano was made by John Broadwood & Sons in the same year the company produced its last harpsichord. Broadwood initially used similar materials and skills to make both kinds of keyboards, so their early pianos looked very like harpsichords.Made in the same year as his last surviving harpsichord this piano shows how the instrument had developed in directions away from the harpsichord while still looking superficially very similar. The casework is veneered in much the same way as in harpsichords, and the frame is entirely of wood, but the strings have a divided bridge in order to keep the stress on the lower iron strings so that the sound would not be too obvious where the material changed. The sound is warm and has something of a “halo”, rather than a clean, distinct attack and silence. The two pedals operate just as pianos of today, one lifting the dampers, and the other sliding the keyboard to the side so that only one string is hit by the hammer.