The evolution and employment of the piano in the light of social history is the subject of a blithe but sturdy volume. In Germany, where preoccupation with ""feeling"" and the culture-vulturing on gemutlich terms led to Silbermann and singing families; in Austria, where Beethoven battled the boundaries of the Vienna keyboard; in England, where the moneyed and the noble played and the Industrial Revolution produced bigger and better pianos; in France, where Chopin played a Pleyel and Liszt an and Erard; in United States, where Steinways and virtuosi and pianolas flourished- the piano had its day as sacred symbol, furniture, husband allurer, and once in a while musical instrument. The techniques of piano making mingle delightfully with the ways of the folks who displayed and sometimes played the piano, with commentaries social and musical by Jane Austen, Thackeray, Mozart. Today the piano, no longer a symbol of respectability, has settled into its place as a musical instrument -- in maturity it can look back on the growing years, the youthful sallies and flirtations in society. Anyone interested in music and manners will enjoy looking back too.