Twisted around the rear piano leg is a two-headed serpent dragon
An artcase, 1895, Bechstein Model C grand piano with an ornately carved, walnut case. Cabinet features carvings of two swans on the water on piano cheeks. Twisted around the rear piano leg is a two-headed serpent dragon. The front legs have elaborate feather scrolling. A serpentine, carved stretcher attaches the legs. The piano lyre features carved shell detail with brass shell pedals. Filigree style music desk with a flower and foliage design. Cabinet also features intricate brass hinges and name plate again echoing foliage. Amazingly the matching duet stool has survived.
In the last quarter of the 19th century, the Berlin musical instrument industry was at a boom. In 1895 around 320 companies produced pianos in this city alone. At the Berlin Trade Exhibition of 1898 there were more than 120 exhibitors of grand and upright pianos and amongst these C. Bechstein had pride of place. This Bechstein Model C stood adjacent to the famous “Rheingold” Bechstein on the Bechstein stand at the Berlin Trade Exhibition of 1896 and was available for the public to try. This is the only piano of this design in existence.
Professor Max Koch created the design for the"Rheingold" Bechstein based on themes found in Richard Wagner's great Ring Cycle works. Wagner drew upon numerous works of German and Scandinavian mythology, both primary texts (usually in contemporary German translations, though Wagner had some knowledge of Old Norse and Middle German) and commentaries on them. The most important of the former were the Völsunga Saga, the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, the Nibelungenlied and Thidriks saga af Bern. The Ring cycle is comprised of four operas Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) Taking themes from the first opera, The "Rheingold" Bechstein features three nymphs sitting at its feet; Woglinde, Wellgunde, and Flosshilde who protect the Rhein gold. The Rhein gold can be made into a magic ring which will let its bearer rule the world. The Rheingold Bechstein case work also feature swans and waves. The brass hinges are made in the form of aquatic plants. Inside the lid the Rhine maidens are again hand-painted. The Bechstein model C in this exhibition also depicts themes from the Ring Cycle. Again swans and waves feature on the case work along with shells and reeds. Twisting around the back leg is a two-headed serpent dragon climbing up a tree. A serpent dragon appears in the third opera "Siegfried" perhaps inspiration for this design. The Rhein gold has been stolen and forged into a ring by Alberich, a Nibelung dwarf and guarded in a cave by a dragon, Fafner. Alberich's brother Mime plots to obtain the Ring for himself. He has raised a human boy Siegfried as a foster child, to kill the dragon.
This historic commercial and cultural film by C. Bechstein piano factory dates back to 1926. The movie is available on the C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik official channel
The Wagner Ring Cycle from the Met from the Deutsche Grammophon official channel
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