Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua

Inventing the piano was the culmination of my life’s work. A keyboard instrument unmatched in dynamic range and nuance of expression, it forever changed the way music was composed, performed, and enjoyed. It filled concert halls with a revolutionary new sound that has enchanted listeners for more than three centuries. And yet, I only feel bitter regret, knowing that my cherished invention led to that guy from The Godfather getting strangled with piano wire.

The profound artistic achievements made possible by my creation are wondrous, to be sure, but they aren’t worth more than a human life, especially that of Don Corleone’s most trusted bodyguard.


With the piano, I devised a stringed keyboard instrument that gave players a broader palette of tone colors and allowed for more precise rhythmic articulations. It took these tools of stylistic interpretation and placed them, quite literally, at the performer’s fingertips. As proud as I am of this innovation, if I’d had any idea that someone would one day lift open the top of my beloved creation, unwind one of the strings from its pegs, and use it as a makeshift garrote on that unsuspecting henchman, I would’ve scrapped the whole project immediately.

It just tears me up inside, thinking about the life he might have lived if I hadn’t invented the literal instrument of his death. From what I understand, he was a rising star within his crime syndicate. I’ve no doubt he had a great future ahead of him. Thanks to me, though, that future was ruthlessly snuffed out. In my vanity, I never stopped to think about the full consequences of my actions. How could I have been so selfish?

My invention may have given us the breathtaking sonatas of Beethoven and the masterful concerti of Rachmaninoff, but what it has taken away—the life of this man—is too much to bear.


When I was building my first piano, I thought only of the gift I might impart to lovers of music. The worst thing I imagined happening was someone accidentally getting their fingers caught in its lid! I never, ever thought my invention would be the downfall of the man who wrought vengeance upon all six would-be assassins of Don Corleone, got the singer Johnny Fontane out of his exploitive contract, and gave the most generous cash gift to Connie on her wedding day.

Some people delight in the sweet flow of Debussy’s arabesques or the feathery bounce of Chopin’s waltzes. Others marvel at how innovators from Franz Liszt to Thelonious Monk to John Cage pushed the potential of my piano to its very limits. But what do I hear? Nothing but the gags and retches of a loyal associate who was just doing his job by gathering information on the Tattaglia family. I can’t help but feel as though I lashed that wire around his neck with my own hands.

I’ve spent so much time rationalizing and making excuses in my head. Someone else would’ve invented the piano if not me, right? Or surely the Tattaglias would’ve found a different instrument to kill that guy with, if not the piano. Perhaps they would have crushed his head between two cymbals, stabbed him through the back of the neck with a flute, or ambushed him and bludgeoned him to death with bassoons.


But I’m kidding myself. When I hear the word “piano,” all I can think of is that bodyguard’s bulging eyes and his last gurgling breath. I am certain that his last thought was to curse the name of Bartolomeo Cristofori and the day I unveiled my first cimbalo di cipresso di piano e forte in 1700.

Believe me, I curse that day, too.