The Enduring Grand Piano

Is the Grand Piano Obsolete?

Anticipating the demand for smaller instruments (let alone the competition the piano would later face with the introduction of electronic music and digitalized keyboards), in the last paragraph of his historical essay entitled, "The Grand Piano," Alfred Dolge claims that the grand piano is here to stay, suggesting that a well built baby grand piano might prove to be a good substitute for the concert grand. "The short grand, baptized by Albert Weber the 'baby grand,' will be the instrument of the future," says Dolge. This is so, he claims, because the sound as well as the mechanical perfections that have gone into its evolution and development has created a desire in the professional musician that won't easily go away.

The clamor for an increased full round tone, elastic and easy touch, and never-failing repetition in the action of the piano, is the same to-day as it was 200 years ago, and must be satisfied.

Dolge believes that the upright piano, "having evidently reached the apex of its possible development, is unsatisfactory..." Thus, if you love the piano and want to own one, the grand piano is, of course, the first choice. If size and space are of a concern that forces one to choose a smaller frame, then baby grand pianos are a good option. When writing, Dolge's conclusion, though, was that the physical dynamics of the grand piano would be the preferred wave of the future in piano design and manufacturing.

When writing "The Grand Piano," Dolge did not anticipate the electronic music industry, but his predictions for the grand piano still hold true, even for the most exacting copying technologies we have with us today. Many musicians like the convince and vast possibilities of digitalized keyboard instruments, but will tell you right away that the ultimate instrument for producing the sound of a concert grand piano is still the concert grand. Of course, for that to be true, the piano needs to be well built, well maintained or restored by professionals.


1972. Alfred Dolge, Pianos and their Makers: A Comprehensive History of the Development of the Piano. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, pg. 65.

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