19th century piano playing

Hi, Amy. You seem a little, uh, frazzled. Could it have anything to do with the lies you've been telling in the 19th century? Have they come back to bite you?


So, let me get this straight. The gentleman who is interested in the maid, Charlotte, thinks she is a young lady of social standing because you told him so at the ball. And as soon as he arrived a few days ago for a visit with her when the lady and master of the house were out, you couldn't help but tell him (upon his enquiry after you asked him to wait in the parlour) that, yes, of course Charlotte can play the piano like all young ladies of a proper 19th century upbringing. And you told him this knowing that Charlotte was raised in a poor household and never had the advantage of music lessons of any kind.

And I'm quite certain you "forgot" to mention to him that Charlotte is missing two fingers on one hand, leaving her quite unable to ever play the piano well at all.


It only matters that she wore gloves to cover up her missing fingers if this gentleman caller never calls on her again, isn't that right? It only matters that you have deceived this guy if he comes to see her again.

You only wanted to make her feel happy and confident after being dumped by her fiance? You didn't think far enough ahead?


Yes,  I see your dilemma. Not that you weren't warned.

No, I don't think the fact that you can play Chopsticks, or Row Row Row Your Boat on the piano will help this situation one little bit.

The invention of the piano occurred in the 17th century - a  descendant of the harpsichord built in the 16th and 17th centuries - and became popular quickly. Because only families with wealth could afford to purchase one for their homes, pianos were owned by only the well-to-do, and proved to everyone their family's high position in society.
In the 19th century, when you currently live, the ability of a young woman to play the piano is regarded as an attractive and sometimes necessary qualification to Victorian gentlemen, who wish to provide their wives much leisure time, another symbol of social status.
If the courting gentleman also knows how to play the piano, this brings with it the advantage of being able to play an acceptable duet with the young lady of his dreams, bringing them close together in a respectable manner.

The Grand piano's rise is happening in the 1800s, and makers such as  Steinway & Sons (an American-German company founded in 1853) will expand to include both a factory in Queens, New York City, as well as a factory in Hamburg, Germany.

Late in the 19th century, the player piano, or self-playing piano will rise in popularity until the phonograph and electric radio take over its role in entertaining.

The 20th century will herald the arrival of the electronic digital piano, eventually improving the keyboard until it becomes touch sensitive to soft or hard pressure. Shortly after, digital Grand pianos will also become available.