Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Bechstein Pianos - A short History

Carl Bechstein had a firm grasp of piano making while still a young man, he also had an acute understanding of how to use publicity to further his business. His first grand piano was built in 1856 - a piano on which Hans von Bulow gave a concert playing Liszt's piano sonata. This concert earned the Bechstein Piano universal praise, and thus Bechstein became a piano-making force to be reckoned with!

The following year, Hans von Bulow is believed to have written that, "Bechstein is, in my opinion, the foremost maker of grand pianos in Germany, although he has built only three so far..." In 1861, still seeking to further the cause of Bechstein Pianos, he wrote to Klindworth insisting that the Bechstein Piano be properly demonstrated at the upcoming International Exhibition in London.

Sure enough, at the 1862 London Industrial Exhibition, Bechstein was awarded the English Grand Prix. The pianos were described as "distinguished by outstanding freshness and breadth of tone, quality of play and uniformity of the different registers..."
The Bechstein Piano appealed to the musical elite and to numerous Royal Households. In 1881, a Bechstein Piano was sent to Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace. In 1885 what was to become the largest dealership in Europe was opened in London. During the early years of the 20th century the list of royal clients grew to include the tsars of Russia and the royal families of Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Austria and Denmark.

The annual production from the Bechstein factories grew steadily. In 1900, annual production was about 3,700 pianos. By 1910, this had increased to about 4,600. 

Bechstein Pianos still have the something of their 'freshness and breadth of tone'! The build quality is legendary and even today, many pre 1900 Bechstein Pianos are thought worthy of total rebuilding. The Bechstein Piano deserves its status as one of the foremost Piano Makers of all time.