Fortepiano Fritz, ca. 1812
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Fritz is a fine example of the early romantic 6 octave Viennese piano. The changes in piano building came together with composers mirroring local tastes and exploring further. The instruments of the new romantic style found a lyrical voice and full accompaniment with different changes in piano design, for example the hammer increasing in size in proportion to soundboard and strings.
The change in musical style and in instruments came also in a variety, with no hint of the uniformity of today’s pianos. The proliferation of pianos in Vienna in the early nineteenth century came from great numbers of builders – 300 different brands between 1780 and 1830 – when several different tastes and tendencies were in vogue simultaneously among builders and their clientele.
One of the early romantic piano makers was Johann Peter Fritz, and although little is known about him, the evidence of his numerous surviving instruments attests to his mastery. A piano could be distinguished in this time as a ‘Lieder piano’, and the warm accompaniment and singing treble of Fritz would seem to place him in this category. It is interesting to note that Giuseppe Verdi owned a Fritz piano, which we are told he preferred to his other piano. McNulty’s copy is based on a Fritz piano from about 1812.