Cristofori, Bartolommeo di Francesco

His name was also spelled Cristofani and Cristofali. He was the inventor of the piano or the Hammerclavier as he call'** it. This has been a greatly disputed point, but Cristofori's claims have been so thoroughly investigated and the evidence in his favor is so -overwhelming that it is considered established beyond a doubt. He was born in Padua and became the best harpsichord maker in his native town. About 1690 he was persuaded to go to Florence by Ferdinand di Medici to take charge of his collection of instruments. Here he continued his construction of harpsichords and clavichords, his instruments being described in a number of Italian literary works of the day. Prince Ferdinand died in 1713, and in 1716 his collection of eighty-four spinets and harpsichords was placed in charge of Cristofori. Seven of these were made by Cristofori himself. Cristofori's hammer mechanism was introduced into his instruments in 1711, but his first real piano was not made until the year 1720. The discovery of this instrument set at rest all doubts as to its being his invention, as it has a plate bearing his name with the date and the word " inventor " following. This interesting instrument is in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, having been given by Mrs. J. Crosby Brown, who obtained it from the daughter of Fabio Mocenni, who in turn had procured it from a piano-tuner of Siena. Back of this its history is unknown. A grand piano made by Cristofori in 1726 is in one of the museums of Florence. A harpsichord with three keyboards by the same maker belongs to the University of Michigan. A grand festival was held at Florence, in 1876, in honor of Cristofori and at the same time a memorial tablet for him was placed in the cloisters of Sante Croce.