STOCK: 3999 YEAR: 1904
Carl Bechstein was born in 1826. One of his sisters married a piano-builder called Johann Gleitz, this inspired him to take an apprenticeship with Gleitz.
After this, he travelled through France and learnt much of his skills from the French school of piano-building. Carl was amazed by the ferocity of Franz Liszt’s playing, and this inspired him to produce pianos that were capable of withstanding the sort of punishment dished out by pianists of Liszt’s calibre.
Carl Bechstein established his company in 1853 in Berlin. By 1900, production had increased to 3,700 instruments a year, and this was the year that Carl died. He left his sons Edwin, Karl & Johann to continue the business, which continued to prosper, and in 1912 the company produced its 100,000th instrument. Bechstein survived the `great depression’ in 1929-1934, when many piano builders were forced out of business.
The factory was badly damaged during WWII, but by 1950 they were back making pianos, but at only around 100 pianos per year. In 1963 Baldwin of the US bought the company from the family until 1986 when master-technician Karl Schutze repurchased the company back into German hands.
In 1993, however, the company was facing bankruptcy, and nearly collapsed, until German investment saved the company. Bechstein today still prospers, and has bought Zimmermann & W Hoffmann into the Bechstein fold.