Many times we take the grand piano for granted, thinking that it’s been around forever in musical history. The fact of the matter is that it’s a somewhat new instrument in the grand scheme of things, being invented in the early 1700s by expert harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori. The harpsichord predated the piano by about 300 years.
That being said, there are 3 pianos still in existence made by Cristofori, and the video below features the oldest one, made in 1720. What’s more, it still sounds better than you’d expect an almost 300 year old instrument to sound.
When I listened to this video I first thought that I was listening to a harpsichord, since it had a lot of those high harmonics associated with the instrument. The piano is a lot different though, and quite an improvement in that the strings are struck, and not plucked like the harpsichord. As a result, the player is able to play with dynamics, while the notes played on the harpsichord are all at the same volume.
Regardless, enjoy listening to this priceless instrument, which is part of the collections at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Go here for more on the differences between a piano and harpsichord.