for·​te·​pia·​no | \ ˌfȯr-ˌtā-pē-ˈa-(ˌ)nō also -ˈä-(ˌ)nō How to pronounce fortepiano (audio) \

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 How to pronounce forte-piano (audio) , 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 Belle Bulwinkle, fortepiano; Cynthia K. Black, violin; David Morris, cello. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Classical music and dance listings," 31 May 2018 András Schiff has recorded revelatory Schubert on the fortepiano; Carolin Widmann and Dénes Várjon made a ferociously potent disk of the Schumann violin sonatas. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Pristine Empire of ECM Records," 25 Nov. 2019 Find more information and book tickets at 8 Get your Beethoven fix A 19th-century Viennese fortepiano, first-edition sonatas — and even a lock of the great master’s hair? Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "12 coolest Bay Area things you didn’t know you could do," 29 July 2019 Tao did, however, take advantage of the modern piano’s wider dynamic range than the fortepiano that Mozart used, at times surging out in an almost demonic fashion. Ken Jacques, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Tao wows and Francis dances in Mainly Mozart final concert," 23 June 2019 Meglioranza will perform the song cycle Feb. 18 accompanied by David Breitman on a model of an 1819-era fortepiano at the Byron Colby Barn in Grayslake. Sheryl Devore, Lake County News-Sun, "Schubert's beloved song cycle to be performed at Colby Barn," 7 Feb. 2018 Zivian, who performs with Valley of the Moon musicians June 9 at the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, plans to play many of the Sonoma performances on his 1841 Viennese fortepiano. Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle, "Cellist’s piece on gut strings a first at Valley of the Moon Music Festival," 29 May 2018 In the realm of public performance generally, as Mr. Kildea relates, the concert hall began to replace the salon; and the grand piano took the place of the smaller, plinkier fortepiano. Michael O’donnell, WSJ, "‘Chopin’s Piano’ Review: Postscript to the Preludes," 16 Aug. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fortepiano.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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