• FA-123545 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Information & Communication
Musical Instruments
Musical Instruments
1800 - 1849

"Giraffe" grand piano


A upright pianoforte - space-saving, elegant and fashionably "à la giraffe".

In the Biedermeier period, between the Congress of Vienna of 1815 and the March Revolution of 1848, middle-class families became important upholders of the musical tradition. The middle-class drawing room was, however, smaller than an aristocratic hall. This is why space-saving pianos were developed, such as the square piano, whose keyboard was arranged parallel to the strings, or pianos where the case is folded upwards, so to speak.

Such instruments were constructed in many forms at the start of the 19th century, mainly in Vienna. The so-called "giraffe" grand piano was a much-loved eye-catcher in the middle-class drawing room. Its silhouette resembles the neck of a giraffe. At the end of the 1820s, the viceroy of Egypt had given a giraffe to the Vienna zoo. This sensation had knock-on effects in many areas of society: Suddenly, everything had to be "à la giraffe": fashion, hairstyles, ashtrays, drinking vessels. Even "Giraffeln" biscuits were invented. People played the giraffe piano and danced the giraffe gallop.

This instrument on display from the collection of the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) originally had over six pedals, only some of which are still present. One of these operated the "Janissary stop", which made little bells ring and the sounding board was set vibrating by a mallet. This produced a sound with a Turkish colour, similar to the triangle and the bass drum. The other pedals were used to operate una corda, pianissimo, piano, bassoon and sustain.

Manufacturer: Joannes van Raay & Zonen, Amsterdam
Date of construction: approx. 1835

Inv.Nr. 13733
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