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The History and Development of the Modern Piano - Page 2

Evolution of the Piano

The pianoforte has undergone numerous improvements in its details up to the present day. At the beginning, the piano-makers constructed their piano actions "works" themselves. It is estimated that there were about 400 piano factories with more than 8,000 employees in Germany in 1894, quite apart from the many master piano-makers who constructed their instruments with the help of only a few journeymen and apprentices. In Berlin alone, there were more than 200 independent piano-makers at the end of the l9th century. The London World Exhibition of 1851 provided a wide-ranging survey of the achievements of the piano-makers in the first half of the 19th century and of the emergent piano industry. The leading companies exhibited their products which according to the conditions laid down by the exhibition management had to be the outcome of new technical discoveries. The piano was first popularized in the U.S.A. The industrial revolution had facilitated the production of pianos in large numbers. A successful campaign was held in the twenties and thirties of the 19th century, aiming at the introduction of music lessons in America's state schools. The piano found its way into the homes of the up-and-coming bourgeoisie and was no longer the domain of the aristocracy.

 

The Beginnings of the Supply Industry

The piano models became more and more uniform as a result of the demands made by industrial production aiming at large piece output. The new models, their production in large quantities and the wide distribution led to a steadily increased specialization in manufacture. Division of labor prevailed and the supply industry began to develop. Companies were set up with the sole purpose of manufacturing individual parts. This was a significant development since all instruments had previously been constructed as a whole, i.e. mechanics, cases and wiring. The suppliers became more and more important. Specialization made it possible to produce large quantities at lower costs, since the production of the mechanism, for example, an expensive and time consuming process, had become too costly and labor-intensive for the individual pianoforte producer, calling for a high standard of skilled workers, materials and instrument-making know-how. Although the piano manufacturers had tried since the beginning of the industrial revolution to incorporate new developing technologies in their production, inevitable limits became apparent and could only be developed and utilized through the emergence of the sub-supply companies.

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