• FA-123700 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Information & Communication
Musical Instruments
Musical Instruments
1930 - 1939

Neo-Bechstein grand piano

A "boardless" piano with radio and record-player: The Neo-Bechstein was a piece of multimedia furniture in the 1930s.

The Neo-Bechstein grand piano had many special features: It was lightweight, had no sounding board and the sound was picked up from the vibrating strings using magnetic coils. The player could access completely new capabilities through volume control and in combination with the radio and record player.

It was characteristic of the 1920s and 1930s to transfer the ideas of recently developed radio and amplifier technology to musical instruments. In this period, many new "electric" instruments were produced, such as the Theremin, the Trautonium and the Neo-Bechstein from the collection of the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum). It was to have cutting-edge radio technology and yet be cheaper than a standard piano, thus making it a universal home instrument. Electronic sound generation allowed connecting the instruments directly to an amplifier or radio transmitter without having to route through a microphone. A radio is fitted in the side wall of the grand piano. The separate loudspeaker cabinet also contains a record player. The radio and record player can be operated alone or together with the piano.

However, it was a commercial disappointment due to financial difficulties in the Bechstein company, low acceptance by concert pianists and World War II. Instruments with purely electronic sound generation such as the synthesizer did not catch on permanently until later. Other experimental instruments, like the Neo-Bechstein, soon disappeared. However, the technology of sound pick-up using magnetic coils can still be found today, such as in electromagnetic pick-ups for electric guitars.

Manufacturer: C. Bechstein, Siemens, Berlin
Date of construction: 1932

Inv.Nr. 55936/1
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