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Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 4: Beethoven's Pianos

By Brooke Szymusiak

Beethoven's Broadwood Pianoforte (model)

File:John Broadwood, London, 1810 - Musical Instrument Museum, Brussels - IMG 3841.JPG

Pictured: A Broadwood Pianoforte

Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Beethoven's Personal Pianos

Beethoven's most exquisite work was produced behind the piano, where he was most comfortable. It is known that he was gifted a Broadwood, six-octave piano. This is where most of his work was written. The fourth concerto was written during a time where the piano was rapidly developing. During this development, three strings were provided for each note and a new pedal system was installed. The pedal system allowed a shift between one to three piano strings. This gives the instrument an advantage over the clavichord and harpsichord's abilities. An article from titled “Beethoven’s works performed on his favorite pianos” states, “Beethoven’s piano works are deeply connected to the instruments on which they were written. He lived in a period in which piano making developed rapidly in a rapidly changing society and Beethoven’s own style evolved accordingly.  His works are perfectly expressive of the sounds and effects of his different pianos, using their possibilities to the full.”  With the piano in its prime developing years during Beethoven's time, he was able to use this to his advantage as a composer. Piano Concerto No.4 was likely composed on a pianoforte. Only one year after Beethoven composed this piece, a piano with a newer shape was developed, called a “cabinet piano.” Beethoven worked with all these developments and incorporated the changes to the instrument into his compositions.