Frauenkirche collage
There’s a church in Dresden called Frauenkirche (translated “Church of our Lady”) which was bombed on February 15th, 1945 during WWII. The church sat in ruins for 50 years until the reunification of Germany. But in 1989, a 14 member group under the leadership of a musician named Ludwig Güttler formed the Citizen’s Initiative for the reconstruction of the church. This grew into more than 5000 members, spanning more than 20 countries. The church was finally completed in 2005 and stands as a memorial to the world as a collaborative project of art, archaeology, faith and unification.

Frauenkirche inside detail

One of the teams involved in some of the more detailed aspects of carvings within the church were employed recently by Bechstein in a spectacular million dollar piano reproduction of another kind. In 1886, Bechstein had made a one-of-a-kind piano for an exhibition in London called the Sphinx. Similar to the story of the Dresden church where the reproduction was based on photographs, all that remained of the Bechstein instrument was a single image. Bechstein decided to remake a present day version of this 130 year old original.
Bechstein Sphinx grand piano full viewBechstein Sphinx rim
The features of the grand are similar to any world class C.Bechstein: the cabinet contains the feathered lines of pyramid mahogany, ciresa spruce soundboard, beech and mahogany rim, Renner action and hammers, with a traditional sand-cast iron plate. But what sets apart this piano is the cabinetry finesse involving a process called “lost wax”. This is more specifically where the team from the Frauenkirche comes in. Decorative elements are first carved out of wood and “dry-fit” meaning that they ensure that the parts will fit correctly after they become cast in bronze. The sculptured wooden parts then become the model from which a master mould is made. Wax is used to make models of the various pieces and when the bronze is cast, the wax evaporates through a process called metal-chasing.
The once carved wooden pieces are now identical replications in bronze. But Bechstein didn’t stop here. The pieces were then fire gilded with gold. Once they are heat-treated, the gold pieces turn a dull yellow. The vibrant gold only reappears through polishing by hand and through the use of polishing stones. After 32 months and 1800 work hours later, the Sphinx was unveiled.

Yamaha Promotion
Yamaha Promo
Yamaha Promo
Ritmuller
Yamaha Promo
Yamaha Promo
Steinway
Yamaha Promo

Bechstein Sphinx grand piano behind the scenes
Appropriately named, the Sphinx is a Greek mythical creature that represents mystery and wisdom. Truly, this piece by Bechstein reveals their manufacturing prowess, their wisdom of 163 years (est. in 1853) and their ability to continue to amaze the world with their artistic flair.

The Price for this magical piece? 1 Million Euro (Approximately $1.12 million US dollars)
For more information on the piano, you can download the full pdf.
To see the Sphinx being played, watch the video on YouTube.
The full line of C.Bechstein pianos can be viewed on Piano Price Point

More Piano Articles

Chips Happen

It’s inevitable that chips will happen and pianos will become damaged. In my estimation, the majority of accidents happen because of sloppy piano moving practices. Regardless of the cause, however, the repair needs to be done. Contrary to surface scratch repair that we learned about last month, chips have a different process. As we learned, “if you can feel it, you’ll see it”, meaning that if you run your finger over the damaged part and ...
Read More

How To Remove Scuffs and Scratches from Pianos

It's inevitable that pianos will get bumped, scratched and scuffed. High polish finishes are like mirrors and when something unfortunate happens, it can be not only disappointing but daunting to know how to remedy the situation. In this 2-part series we are first going to investigate removing scuffs and hairline scratches and then in the second part, we'll look into chip and deeper scratch repairs. Disclaimer: while this presents one solution to repairs, this is ...
Read More

Virtual Piano Trade Show 2022

Like many industries, piano retail and manufacturing have had challenges during the 2021/2022 years. Demand remains strong for purchasing pianos but piano makers have faced difficulties supplying product. When Covid struck in 2020, the general public spent a lot of time at home and there seemed to be a collective thought, "I should take up the piano again". Thus, the sales boomed. But in recent months, several companies have been finding it difficult to fulfill ...
Read More

Why Do Piano Keys Stick?

Aside from tuning the piano, there’s one question that gets asked more than any other. “Can you fix a sticking key?” The term ‘sticking key’ refers to a mechanical failure where a piano key is depressed and it doesn’t return to its normal position in a timely manner. It can happen on new pianos and old pianos alike and today we’re going to examine the main reason why piano keys stick. F stands for Friction ...
Read More

Five Tiers of Yamaha Grand Pianos

It may be difficult to wrap your head around the fact that Yamaha has five different tiers of grand pianos. Growing up I only knew of the famous C series grands. The Conservatory (letter C) followed by a number indicated the size of the grand piano. They were C1, C2, C3, C5 and C7. These pianos ranged in size from the baby grand 5’3” all the way up to the semi-concert grand, 7’6” in length ...
Read More

Pianos With Headphones? Big Noise About Being Quiet

Recently, silent or quiet pianos have become more prevalent in piano manufacturing. In fact, in our Virtual Piano Trade Show, it seemed that silencer systems were a very popular theme this last year. What are these pianos they call "silent"? It sounds paradoxical doesn't it? Why make a piano that you can't hear? And why are they making the headlines in piano manufacturing? First of all, let's take a look at what a silent piano ...
Read More