The Five and One-Half Octave Fortepiano

The five and one-half octave fortepiano is based upon an 1802 instrument in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg, as well as two other very similar Streicher instruments, also in Germany. The compass is FF to c4, and the keyboard is covered in bone, with ebony sharps. The damping and moderator are operated by knee levers. It has a Viennese action with metal kapsels and individual backchecks, and is double-strung up to the final two octaves, which are triple-strung. Malcolm Rose wire is used throughout. The small light hammers are covered in one to four layers of leather, giving a flexibility to the tone. Damping is soft leather, like the prototypes, which is quick and sure.

The original is veneered with yew, darkened to a walnut shade. Also available are blonde yew or cherry. The prototype has four simple round turned legs; you may have this style or the probable original style, square tapered. The sturdy music desk matches the veneer. A removeable over-soundboard is available: the effect of this very common item is to blend and warm the tone; it also enhances the volume somewhat by adding sympathetic vibrations and more resonating area.

The five and one-half octave fortepiano is eminently suitable for Mozart and Haydn, yet with a bit riper and fuller sound than the 18th century instruments, hinting at the early Romantic period. Length 85"(216cm), width 41"(105.5cm).

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The Six and One-Half Octave Piano
The Fortepiano Maintenance Handbook

Margaret Hood Fortepianos
580 West Cedar Street, Platteville, WI 53818 USA
e-mail me at HOOD@UWPLATT.EDU