Skip to main content

Vassar

  • Ask a Librarian
  • FAQ

Please note: the navigation above represents our new site structure and may not work yet. As we complete our new sites, the navigation will be more robust. Thank you for your patience!

Giraffe Piano (Germany?, ca. 1830)

Giraffe Piano (Germany?, ca. 1830)

So called because of its asymmetrical, curvaceous case, nearly eight feet tall, this Biedermeier-style upright piano with ornamental brass mounts must have been built in Germany about 1830; unfortunately its rectangular nameplate has been removed, so the maker is unknown. A fabric panel above the bone and ebony six-octave keyboard conceals the soundboard and strings; buttons on the panel disguise latches that hold the panel in place. Six wooden pedals formerly protruded from the base; four now remain. Besides operating dampers and mutes, these pedals controlled several percussion devices including a bell, which lent exotic color to popular music such as Turkish marches, much in vogue at the time. Intended to be placed against a parlour wall rather than on a stage, the piano presented its player's back to the room. The "giraffe" shape derives from that of a grand piano standing on end.

Giraffe Piano (Germany?, ca. 1830)