Bechstein Grand straight strung year 1873
Black cased Bechstein Grand piano circa 1873. Straight strung and being one of the last of the straight strung grands to be made.
235 cm long
Bechstein has been known as a maker of one-of-a-kind artcase pianos since the 19th century. Artcase pianos were commissioned by interior designers for royal palaces and mansions. Artists and craftsmen were hired by C. Bechstein to make special pianos decorated with gold, hand-carved details, and hand-painted art on the piano case. Some of the artcase Bechsteins are now museum pieces, while others are sometimes traded at musical-instrument auctions, mainly in London and New York
Students and followers of Hans von Bülow and Franz Liszt also developed loyalty to Bechstein pianos.
Alexander Scriabin owned a concert-size Bechstein at his Moscow home, which is now a national museum, and Scriabin’s piano is still played at scheduled recitals. Tatiana Nikolayeva preferred the Bechstein for her acclaimed recordings of the music of Bach. Sviatoslav Richter grew up studying piano on a Bechstein and remembered his experience with that piano as stimulating and rewarding.
Claude Debussy said “Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein”.
Edwin Fischer chose a Bechstein piano for his pioneering recording of Bach’s The Well Tempered Clavier, as did Artur Schnabel for his cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. Both artists were very fond of Bechstein pianos, as were many of the 20th century’s leading pianists, such as Wilhelm Kempff, Wilhelm Backhaus, Walter Gieseking and Jorge Bolet.
Polish pianist Władysław Szpilman (famous thanks to the movie The Pianist) used a Bechstein piano until 1941 in his family private apartments in Warsaw.
For his studio recording of the music of Chopin and Beethoven, Dinu Lipatti used a Bechstein piano.
Bob Dylan played a Bechstein piano at the ABC Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland on 20 May 1966. He is mentioned on many Bechstein dealers’ web pages as a regular Bechstein player. When Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics listed his Bechstein piano for auction, he named Bob Dylan as one of the musicians who had played the piano.
The Bechstein concert grand at London’s Trident Studios, over a century old and much sought-after for its sound, became one of the most frequently recorded instruments in rock history. The piano can be heard on The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” Elton John’s “Your Song,” George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?,” Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” Nilsson’s “Without You,” and Supertramp’s “Crime of the Century”. It saw service in the studio from 1968 until the mid 1980s, and has since been sold at auction.
Freddie Mercury of the British rock band Queen played a Bechstein piano on the best-selling album A Night at the Opera. (The liner notes to the album, as reprinted in the 2005 deluxe CD/DVD release of the album, credit Freddie Mercury with “Bechstein Debauchery”.)
The music video for Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” features John playing a white Bechstein grand.
Oscar Peterson played and owned a Bechstein throughout much of his career, publicity contracts with rival manufacturers notwithstanding.
Anna Ivanova (2011) played Liszt’s personal 1880 Bechstein grand piano, which is displayed in the Liszt Haus in Weimar Germany. Recordings of her playing both this grand piano, and the Bechstein 576 (which was delivered March 17, 1862 to Franz Liszt), which presently is being displayed at the Bechstein Centre in Berlin, can be found on YouTube.