• The piano—one of the most popular instruments in the world. The piano is also known as the pianoforte, it differs from its predecessor principally in the introduction of a hammer-and-lever action that allows the player to modify the intensity of sound by the stronger or weaker touch of the fingers. For this reason the earliest known model of a piano, from 1709, was called a gravicembalo cal pian e forte, Italian for “harpsichord with soft and loud”. It was built by Barolomeo Cristorfori, a harpsichord maker of Florence, Italy, who is generally credited with inventing the piano. Two of his pianos still exist. The case of one, dated 1720, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; the other, dated 1726, is in a museum in Leipzig, Germany.
    Pianos are not magical; they are series of strings, much like a harp. The piano key is a lever that pivots on a balance pin. When the player depresses the key, the tail rises and the capstan screw in the key pushes up the wippen, which is hinged. The free end of the whippen rises, raking with it an L-shaped piece called the jack, or escapement lever, and the repetition lever.
    The jack pushes the knuckle, or roller, a roll of felt that is fixed to the hammer shank; the hammer thus rises. The jack’s upward motion is stopped when its protruding end hits the regulating button. The hammer flies up away from the jack and strikes the appropriate stings. The repetition lever also rises, but only until the end where the jack passes through it and touches the drop screw; this lever stays raised until the key is released.
    The hammer falls back, but only partway. It is stopped by the knuckle hitting the raised repetition lever. The jack can thus slip back under the partially raised hammer shank and into its original position. At the same time, the backcheck keeps the hammer from rebounding against the strings. If the key is partly released, the hammer moves free of the backcheck, and the repetition lever stays raised. If the player again depressed the partially released key, the jack can once more push the knuckle and the hammer shank upward.
    Meanwhile, the tail of the key has also pushed up the damper lever, which lifts the damper off the strings for that key. When the key is even partially released the damper falls back onto the strings and silences the note.
    When the key is fully released, all parts of the mechanism return to their original positions because of gravity. Unlike grand pianos, upright pianos cannot rely on gravity to cause everything to return to place. In a grand piano the actions sits horizontally on the key; in an upright piano the action is adapted so that it sits more or less vertically. Because it cannot completely rely on gravity, it includes various springs and small strips of cloth to pull some of the action parts back into place.

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era.
    Mozart fell ill while in Prague for the premiere on September 6 of his opera La clemenza di Tito, written in 1791 on commission for the Emperor’s coronation festivities. He was able to continue his professional functions for some time, and conducted the premiere of The Magic Flutes on September 30. The illness intensified on November 20, at which point Mozart became bedridden; suffering from swelling, pain, and vomiting.
    Mozart was nursed in his final illness by Constanze and her youngest sister Sophie, and attended by the family doctor, Thomas Franz Closset. It is clear that he was mentally occupied with the task of finishing his Requiem. However, the evidence that he actually dictated passages of his student Süssmayr is very slim.
    Mozart died at 1 a.m. on December 5, 1791 at the age of 35. The New Grove gives a matter-of-fact description of his funeral. “Mozart was buried in a common grave, in accordance with contemporary Viennese custom, at the St Marx cemetery outside the city on December 7. If, as later reports say, no mourners attended, that too is consistent with Viennese burial customs at the time; later Jahn (1856) wrote that Salieri, Süssmayr, van Swieten and two other musicians were present. The tale of a storm and snow is false; the day was clam and mild.

    Johann Sebastian Bach (March 31, 1685 – July 28 1750) was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity.
    Bach’s health may have been in decline in 1749; on June 2, Heinrich von Brühl wrote to one of the Leipzig burgomasters to request that his music director, Gottlp Harrer, fill the post of Thomacantor and Director musices posts “upon the eventual … decease of Mr. Bach.” Bach becamse increasingly blind, and the celebrated British eye surgeon John Taylor (who would later operate unsuccessfully on Handel) operated on Bach while visiting Leipzig in 1750. Bach died on July 28, 1750 at the age of 65. A contemporary newspaper reported the cause of death as “from the unhappy consequences of the very unsuccessful eye operation”. Some modern historians speculate the cause of death was a stroke complicated by pneumonia. His estate was valued at 1159 thalers and included five Clavecins, two lute-harpsichords, three violins, three violas, two cellos, a viola da gamba, and lute and a spinet, and 52 “sacred books” (many by Martin Luther, Muller and Pfeiffer, including Josephus’ History of the Jews and nine volumes of Paul Wanger’s Leipzig Song Book).
    A modern reconstruction of Bach’s head using computer modeling techniques, unveiled March 3, 2008 in Berlin, Germany, showed the composer as a strong-jawed man with a slight underbite, his large head topped with short, silver hair.

    Ludwig van Beethoven (December 17, 1770 – March 26, 1827) was a German composed and pianist. He is considered to have been the most crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music, and remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.
    Beethoven was bedridden for most of his remaining months, and many friends came to visit. He died on Monday, March 26, 1827, during a thunderstorm. His friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who was present at the time, claimed that there was a peal of thunder at the moment of death. An autopsy revealed significant liver damage, which may have been due to heavy alcohol consumption.
    Unlike Mozart, who was buried anonymously in a communal grave (such being the custom at the time), twenty-thousand Viennese citizens lined the streets for Beethoven’s funeral on Thursday, March 29, 1827. Franz Schubert, who died the following year and was buried next to Beethover, was one of the torchbearers. After a Requiem Mass at the church of the Holy Trinity (Dreifaltigkenitskirche), Beethoven was buried in the Währing cemetery, north-west of Vienna. His remains were exhumed for study in 1862, and moved in 1888 to Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof.
    There is dspute about the cause of Beethoven’s death; alcoholic cirrhosis, syphilis, infectious hepatitis, lead poisoning, sarcoidosis and Whipple’s disease have all been proposed. Friends and visitors before and after his death hclipped locks of his hair, some of which have been preserved and subjected to additional analysis, as have skull fragments removed during the 1862 exhumation. Some of these analyses have led to controversial assertions that Beethoven was accidentally poisoned to death by excessive does of lead-based treatments administered under instruction from his doctor.
    The piano is a very complex instrument, and a very interesting one at that. Famous pianists other than Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven include Billy Joel, Eubie Blake, and Dave Bruebeck. The piano is a series of strings and hammers creating the sound you hear almost every day.