- Cyril Ehrlich
German firm of piano makers. Friedrich Wilhelm Carl Bechstein (d Gotha, 1 June 1826; d Berlin, 6 March 1900), who founded the firm in 1853 in Berlin, served his apprenticeship with the Perau firm in Berlin, becoming foreman at the age of 22. He left in 1852 to work under Pape and Kriegelstein in Paris, and returned to Berlin the next year to start his own small business. Three years later he attracted considerable attention with his first grand, which was inaugurated by Bülow with a performance of the Liszt Sonata. Success at the 1862 London exhibition and the more important 1867 Paris exhibition consolidated a fast-growing reputation. Output was expanded vigorously, from 300 instruments a year during the 1860s to 1000 a decade later, 3000 during the 1890s and 5000 in the years preceding World War I.
Large-scale production and extensive use of machinery did not preclude the maintenance of consistently high standards. Bechstein’s concert grands were preferred by most leading pianists in Europe, and the firm’s smaller grands (notably the ...