Carl Bechstein founded his piano factory in 1853 in Berlin, Germany. He wanted to make a piano able to withstand the demands of the virtuosi of the time, such as Franz Liszt. In 1857, Liszt’s son-in-law, Hans von Bülow, gave the first public performance on a Bechstein grand piano by performing Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor in Berlin.
By 1870, Bechstein pianos had become established in concert halls and private mansions. Bechstein began supplying pianos to Queen Victoria, the tsars of Russia, and many of the royal families of Europe. The list of royal clients of Bechstein may be found on the soundboard of vintage Bechstein pianos made before 1939. The list is part of the original Bechstein trademark logo; it can be seen under the strings in the centre of a piano’s soundboard.
In 1910, production reached 4,600 pianos a year, making Bechstein the largest German
manufacturer of high-quality pianos. Between 1900 and 1914 C. Bechstein was one of the leading piano makers in the world.
Edvard Grieg, Alexander Scriabin, Maurice Ravel and Béla Bartók all composed on Bechsteins. Claude Debussy said: ‘Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein’.
The Bechstein concert grand at London’s Trident Recording Studios can be heard on The Beatles’ Hey Jude, Elton John’s Your Song, David Bowie’s Life on Mars?, Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.