Grand Piano

Carl Bechstein German

Not on view

Carl Bechstein founded his famous piano company in Berlin in 1853. His instruments were endorsed by Franz Liszt and Hans von Bülow, which led the company to supply pianos for many of the most important concert venues in the world. Bechstein's instruments became favorites of players, including amateur musicians, and beginning in 1881 Bechstein supplied pianos to Queen Victoria and her residences in Britain. Soon, Bechstein was also providing instruments for royal households in Russia, Spain, Belgium, Norway, and other places. The Bechstein firm, along with the Blüthner company in Leipzig, Bösendorfer in Berlin, and Steinway in New York City, were commonly regarded as the "big four" piano firms in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

After Carl Bechstein's death in 1900, his sons took over the operations and production would reach its height in the 1910s, when the company produced approximately five thousand pianos a year. The Bechstein grand piano at Trident Studios in London became a famed instrument in its own right and was used on many important rock and pop recordings. That Bechstein piano was used on several Beatles songs, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and Carly Simon's "You're So Vain," among others.

The Met's example is dated to around 1893 based on its serial number. The instrument has a beautiful rosewood case with turned legs. Its length and case style are consistent with the Bechstein Model IV (approximately 7 ft 2 in.). The instrument was restored to playing condition at the time of its acquisition by the Museum, including with the addition of synthetic natural keys.

Technical description:
Rosewood case with new plastic-type finish, on 3 octagonal tapered legs with turned collars and casters, standard AAA-c5 keyboard with new synthetic natural key covers and old ebony accidental blocks 2 pedals in columnar lyre; 12 copper-wound unisons, 8 similar bichords, remainder triple-strung, scrollwork music rack

#Wanderer-Fantasie in C Major, D 760 by Franz Schubert, performed by Conrad Tao in 2015



  1. Wanderer-Fantasie in C Major, D 760 by Franz Schubert, performed by Conrad Tao in 2015
  2. Sonata No. 32 in c minor, Op. 111 by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, 2021.
Grand Piano, Carl Bechstein (Gotha 1826–1900 Berlin), Wood, metal, various materials, German

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.