fortepiano Joseph Angst
The instrument of the month, a fortepiano, is exhibited on the 4th floor (inv. No. 2520) and was constructed in the late 1820s by Joseph Angst (b. c1786 - † Eβling, near Vienna, April 22, 1842). Closely resembling the pianos of his colleague, the illustrious instrument maker Conrad Graf, from whom Beethoven rented an instrument in 1826, Angst's fortepiano is representative of what we would qualify as the "second generation" of Viennese pianos. The cabinetmaking, much more robust than that of an instrument from the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, is in the Biedermeier style, an aesthetic that favoured curved lines and warmly tinted woods with visible veining and grain.
The fortepiano by Joseph Angst has a mechanism identical to that of first generation Viennese pianos - a Prellzungenmechanik also called a Viennese mechanism. But its range is wider: as in most grand pianos from the 1820s the keyboard extends to six octaves and a fourth, from do to fa. But its touch remains light and pressing one key still only represents 30 grams compared to the 50 or even 60 grams in modern pianos. However, when compared to a first generation Viennese instrument - a Stein or a Walter - the sound produced is more dense, more melodious than crystalline, more "romantic" than "classical". This is the result, amongst others, of the use of many more strings subjected to greater tension and this, thanks to the strengthened case and its bracing.
The instrument is equipped with six pedals: alongside the traditional una corda and forte that reduce or amplify the sound, there is a bassoon pedal, which brings a strip of wood covered with parchment into contact with the strings of the bass register to produce a nasal sound similar to the instrument of the same name; two celestial pedals that soften the sound by inserting, in whole or in part, a strip of felt between the strings and the hammers; and finally a Turquerie reproducing bells, cymbals and drum! The bell effect is obtained thanks to three concentric bells of different diameter that are hit simultaneously by three mallets when the pedal is pushed. The cymbal is reproduced by a band of brass "falling" on the strings of the bass register. A blow of a mallet on the soundboard imitates the sound of a drum. In general, the three effects are concurrent but it is possible to play the cymbal and bells independently of the drum by pushing the pedal with a little less force. Turquerie, fashionable between the years 1810 to 1830, was born of an infatuation with the music of the Janissaries - the elite and sumptuously dressed infantry troops under the command of the Ottoman sultan, famous for their military bands. It inspired several works of which the most famous remains without a doubt the Turkish March by Mozart.