for·​te·​pia·​no | \ˌfȯr-ˌtā-pē-ˈa-(ˌ)nō also -ˈä-(ˌ)nō \

Definition of fortepiano 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: an early form of the piano originating in the 18th and early 19th centuries and having a smaller range and softer timbre than a modern piano


adverb or adjective
for·​te-pi·​a·​no | \ˌfȯr-ˌtā-pē-ˈä-(ˌ)nō, ˌfȯr-tē-\

Definition of forte-piano (Entry 2 of 2)

: loud then immediately soft used as a direction in music

Examples of fortepiano in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Even that, however, wasn’t quite enough to give ideal presence to the fortepiano — the soft-spoken forerunner to the modern piano — used for two Mozart concertos. Tim Smith,, "A May of Mozart and other treats from BSO, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra," 23 May 2018 The composer took an interest in new instruments, including the fortepiano, and his music should not be confined to the technologies of his time. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Rebel Harpsichordists," 14 May 2018 Eric Zivian was a dynamic fortepiano soloist, channeling the composer’s improvisatory zeal, and the various vocal contributions were perfectly swell. Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Cherubini goes head-to-head with Beethoven in superb Philharmonia program," 26 Apr. 2018 Benvenue Fortepiano Trio Monica Huggett, violin; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, fortepiano. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Classical music and dance listings," 22 Mar. 2018 The reproduction of the 1819 fortepiano is 8-foot long with a wooden frame. Sheryl Devore, Lake County News-Sun, "Schubert's beloved song cycle to be performed at Colby Barn," 7 Feb. 2018 Eric Hoeprich, clarinet; Catherine Manson, violin/viola; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, fortepiano. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Classical music and dance listings," 18 Jan. 2018 This was a nod to its composer, who led the 1792 premiere in London from the fortepiano. Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, "Review: A Nostalgia Trip at the New York Philharmonic," 5 Jan. 2018 Around the 18th century, the harpsichord was eventually replaced by the fortepiano and the modern piano, according to the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale in San Francisco website. Emily Lincke, Houston Chronicle, "Musician performs 15th century-style instrument at Houston concert," 19 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fortepiano.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fortepiano


1771, in the meaning defined above

Adverb or adjective

1823, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fortepiano


French or Italian; French, from Italian, from forte loud + piano soft

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The first known use of fortepiano was in 1771

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