Virtual URCAD: Check out history student research
The Role of the Parlor Piano in 19th C. America
Sara Driver is a History major (B.A., Dec. 2019) and a URA Scholar. She will be presenting her research: "The Domestic Pianist: The Impact of the Parlor Piano on Middle Class Domestic Life In Nineteenth Century America" at Virtual URCAD 2020!
In nineteenth-century America, the parlor piano carried immense symbolism. The piano represented wealth, taste, position, and duty. My research explores how a large, cumbersome instrument aligned itself with the most influential, but intangible aspects of everyday life for the nineteenth-century middle class American. Inside the home, the piano had a significant impact on interior design, family dynamics, and gender roles. It showed visitors that their hosts were a strong family with a hardworking husband and father, a stylish, caring wife and mother, and disciplined, cultured children. Meanwhile, outside the home, these compact pianos played a major role in American manufacturing, commercialism, and consumerism while also bringing about the birth of the modern music industry. By understanding the role of the parlor piano in nineteenth-century America, one cannot only learn a great deal about American culture and society of the period, but also appreciate how much of an impact everyday objects have on modern life and the stories they will be able to tell in the future.
Mentor: Melissa Blair, History, UMBC
Image: 1885 advertisement for the Sterling Piano Company
Come see Sara's research and other undergraduate research and creative work, April 22-29th at URCAD.umbc.edu!
Want to be like Sara and get up to $1500 for your research or creative work? Become a URA Scholar: