1970 - 1986
The true revival starts in 1971 when Leonard Bernstein tours Germany with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, playing Ravel’s Concerto in G Major exclusively on a Bechstein, while another virtuoso, Jorge Bolet, also favours the Berlin brand for his concerts.
In 1973, Baldwin changes the legal status of C. Bechstein from a public to a private limited company. Manager Max Matthias withdraws from the board, while Wilhelm Arndt, the former sales manager, remains with the company and becomes a mere managing director as all decisions are henceforth taken by Baldwin in the United States. The advantage of the company reorganisation, conversely, is that Bechstein gains access to the American market.
With concert halls becoming ever larger, the company develops a new, more powerful concert grand, the model EN. Moreover, this novel instrument takes into account the changes in musical taste since the time of Hans von Bülow, as jazz music has grown increasingly popular in the last decades. As a result, many leading jazz pianists henceforth opt for Bechstein.
In 1978, a brilliant programme celebrates the company’s 125th anniversary, with concerts by such noted artists as the young Christian Zacharias, the stupendous Shura Cherkassky and the Alfons/Aloy Kontarsky duo. Meanwhile, the situation has normalised in West Berlin and the “island city” enjoys considerable subsidies from the German federal government.
Bechstein endeavours to gain a foothold in new markets as Wilhelm Arndt retires in 1984. In the UK, the economic boom of the Thatcher era and the rise of a new class of wealthy traders at the London Stock Exchange has practically no impact on sales, however, as having a piano in one’s living room is no longer a must for the well-to-do. In short: the prospects are not very good for Bechstein in the mid-1980s. Radical changes are therefore needed. Something like another new beginning. With the difference that the risks are much greater now than in 1853 when Carl Bechstein founded his business.