The Czech town of Hradec Králové (formerly Königgrätz) enjoys a long tradition of music instrument-making and has been home to piano-makers for over a century. Many great musicians have hailed from this region, former Bohemia, including Smetana, Janáček and Dvořák, who composed masterpieces of European music. Thus, the importance of music in the region’s cultural fabric is hardly surprising: after all, musical sensitivity is all part and parcel of the Czech tradition, it is virtually a second language.
A site steeped in tradition
A distinctive European sound
Thanks to this century-old heritage, the staff at C. Bechstein Europe manufactures grand and upright pianos; with a distinctive European sound, a hallmark of the W.Hoffmann upright and grand pianos. A sense of musicality flows in the veins of these experienced piano-makers and specialists at C. Bechstein Europe. Experts in their field, they craft pianos which sing.
The development of Europe’s most modern production site since 2006
The story of C. Bechstein Europe began in 2006, when the German company C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik AG Berlin purchased a majority stake in the former Bohemia Piano production. When it consequently took over the entire company one year later, C. Bechstein transferred the production of upright pianos from Jihlava to Hradec Králové, so that all uprights and grands have been produced there ever since. As the next step, C. Bechstein began to improve the in-house depth of production. Before long, it became necessary to rent additional halls and refurbish them thoroughly to meet the demands of high-quality, state-of-the-art manufacturing.
A modern production site
The various production stages were gradually divided among the different buildings. At the same time, the cabinet manufacturing was reorganized to satisfy Bechstein’s high quality standards while minimizing the emissions caused by sanding and polishing the cabinets, thereby fulfilling standards of ecology.
In 2014, C. Bechstein purchased the entire production site (75,000 m²) and started installing state-of-the-art equipment. This substantial investment and expansion of the production facilities is due for completion in 2016.
C. Bechstein’s production is now divided between two sites: Seifhennersdorf, where the Bechstein and C. Bechstein pianos are manufactured, and Hradec Králové, where the three lines of W.Hoffmann upright and grand pianos, Vision, Tradition and Professional are made. Certain departments at the C. Bechstein Germany factory stand to benefit from the synergy between both production sites.
Center for cast-iron frames
As of 2016, for example, Hradec Králové processes all the cast-iron frames for the pianos made at both production sites: state-of-the-art equipment performs all the drilling, milling, tapping and sanding operations.
The Czech site is also responsible for finishing the cast-iron frames based on the different specifications for the various brands and lines. According to C. Bechstein’s integral approach of piano-making, the distinctive composition of the cast iron and the precision of the frame’s physical parameters are important factors in the sound quality.
High-quality wooden parts made in Germany
Here is another example of the synergy between C. Bechstein Europe and its parent company C. Bechstein Germany: all the wooden parts are now manufactured at the Seifhennersdorf production site in keeping with C. Bechstein’s stringent quality standards, and subsequently finished (i.e. primed, sanded and lacquered) in Hradec Králové. This synergy boasts a double advantage: the German production site uses its expertise to manufacture all the delicate parts of the acoustic assembly such as the bridges, while the Czech facility, thanks to its state-of-the-art equipment meets by far the latest European environmental standards for the finish of all pianos.
Moreover, C. Bechstein Germany’s R&D department is responsible for both designing the case, for engineering the acoustic assembly, and developing the respective programs for the high-precision technology equipment that C. Bechstein Europe uses to manufacture the various parts in the Czech Republic.
High-end action assemblies
The world’s top pianists are full of praise for C. Bechstein keyboard-and-action assemblies, which are made from high-precision parts. While C. Bechstein’s R&D department in Seifhennersdorf is responsible for the design and engineering of this crucial element in all pianos of the Masterpiece class, C. Bechstein Europe has created a special department for assembling and fine-tuning the hundreds of parts that compose the action assembly and the keyboard.
The quality of the strings depends on the materials used and the expertise of various specialists involved in making them. The Hradec Králové site is responsible for manufacturing the bass strings by hand for almost all C. Bechstein piano brands.
Qualification — a top priority
The C. Bechstein Europe employees have benefited from a vast training program taught by their German colleagues in both Hradec Králové and Seifhennersdorf. As a consequence, their expertise and level of qualification are on a par with their counterparts at C. Bechstein Germany. Senior staff from Seifhennersdorf regularily visits Hradec Králové to make technical decisions and guarantee quality control.
Millions in investments
Following investments of around 15 million Euros in the period between 2006 and 2015, as well as intensive and consistent managing and training from the mother company have allowed C. Bechstein Europe to grow to one of the major manufacturers of upright and grand pianos in Europe next to C. Bechstein Germany. Moreover, state-of-the-art communication-technology enables the offices in Hradec Králové and Seifhennersdorf to keep in constant touch with each other.
Also worth mentioning is the large sales, i.e. show-room for W.Hoffmann and C. Bechstein pianos right on the doorstep of the Hradec Králové production site.