By “modern” we don’t mean a particular furniture style but the piano as we know it today, rather than antique pianos, early pianos or pre piano instruments such as the harpsichord.
We saw tremendous innovations introduced on a regular basis in the nineteenth century which culminated in a basic design which hasn’t appreciably changed in a hundred years (at least not obviously so). After the whirlwind of activity that ushered in and fueled what many call the golden era of pianos, the industry seemingly matured and has since seen much less frequent and much more subtle changes, albeit valuable ones.
There is some correlation of course between instrument and industry although each can be studied on its own to a certain degree. Factors that affected the industry, such as the economy and competition can be directly seen in the pianos themselves. Quality often suffered as cost cutting policies became necessary (or at least seemed to be).
On the other hand, as designers and craftsmen introduced new and improved designs, materials and construction methods (at times with, and at other times without, the blessing of corporate leadership) the resulting instruments had their own effect on the industry and the economy at large.
In some ways what is available on the market for pianos today isn’t much different than a century ago. One can find high quality instruments, very poorly crafted pianos and those somewhere in between. Even many names of yesteryear can be found, but one must understand the instrument may be quite different. Piano brand names have been bought or otherwise acquired and applied to new pianos that have little or no resemblance to the original.
We will have more to say about the current status of pianos and the piano industry. Meanwhile to learn more about modern pianos see our Current Piano Brands page.