Key Information (on the Steinway piano)

Contribution of Doris Forst. October 2013

While conducting a tour of the Ca‘ recently, I noticed a young woman staring intently at the keyboard of the Steinway in the Court. She finally turned to me with a puzzled look and asked why the Ringling piano had only 85 keys instead of the usual 88. I could not give her an answer then but, after a little online
research on Steinway pianos, I now have unlocked the mystery of the missing keys!

Pianos started out with only about 60 keys in the 14th Century. The number of keys and piano sizes varied greatly. Around 1850 piano keys moved from four full octaves to six octaves to accommodate more complicated musical compositions by composers like Mozart who required bigger and better
instruments. Later in the 19th Century the keys reached 85 (seven full octaves) which is why the older Steinways, like John and Mable's, have 85 keys.

Eventually, according to Michael Moore of Steinway and Sons, with a nod to both artistic creation and capitalism, the company produced 88 key pianos which is still the standard today.