Beethoven, Cristofori & The Piano’s First Century

DECEMBER 5, 2021
Sunday at 2 PM

Part of TŌN’s Sight & Sound series

In the hit series Sight & Sound, conductor and music historian Leon Botstein explores the parallels between orchestral music and the visual arts. A discussion is accompanied by on-screen artworks and musical excerpts performed by The Orchestra Now, followed by a full performance and audience Q&A.

At the dawn of the 18th century, Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori created the world’s first successful hammer-action keyboard instrument, which would come to be known as the piano. A century later it was clear that the piano would become the defining instrument of Western musical culture. Beethoven, a virtuoso pianist, composed extensively for the instrument. His “Emperor” Piano Concerto reveals Beethoven’s obsession with the musical possibilities emerging from the rapidly evolving technology of piano construction.

Cristofori’s 1720 Grand Piano is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Musical Instruments collection.


Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor

Cristofori 1720 Grand Piano


3-Concert series starts at $75

Single concert Tickets start at $30

Program Detail

The event will last approximately 2 hours.

Discussion, on-screen artworks, and musical excerpts
Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now
50 min

20 min

Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor
Shai Wosner piano
39 min

Q&A with the audience
10 min

All timings are approximate. Program and artists subject to change.

Sample the Music

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor

Image: Bartolomeo Cristofori (Padua 1655–1731 Florence). Grand Piano, 1720. Cypress, boxwood, paint, leather, fir, Height (Total): 34 1/16 (86.5 cm), Width (Parallel to keyboard): 37 5/8 (95.6 cm), Depth (Case length, perpendicular to keyboard): 90 in. (228.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.1219a–c)

Related Events


Beethoven & Cristofori

The Met Museum

Stravinsky, Picasso, and Cubism

The Met Museum

Dvořák, MacDowell & Delacroix

The Met Museum