The Carl Bechstein Foundation considers piano-playing a living cultural heritage and therefore promotes this form of music on a broad scale and in the long term. The Foundation backs projects and institutions that introduce children and young people to the piano early on – even at primary school age – and motivate them to develop their musical skills.
„Music is the universal language of mankind”: this quote from the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) remains as true and relevant as ever. Music brings people together regardless of all (language) boundaries and enriches their lives.
As beneficial as they are in many areas, computers and the Internet are edging out values that took centuries to develop. In today’s world, culture – especially music – is merely regarded as a consumer good rather than an asset with an intrinsic value. Against this backdrop, the Carl Bechstein Foundation aims to underline the significance of music and promote piano-playing.
A six-year study by Professor Hans Günther Bastian at Berlin’s primary schools revealed that more music lessons lead to a considerable increase in the pupils’ IQ, help to compensate for lapses in concentration, and improve both creativity and social skills. Another study conducted by neurologist Dr Hans-Hermann Winter documents the positive effects of playing the piano at an early age: “Playing the piano, especially in childhood, greatly enhances the fine motor skills and the neuronal networks in the brain, which in turn results in a quantifiable increase in intelligence. Playing the piano also encourages networking between the left and right cerebral hemispheres, thereby achieving a more effective combination of the sense of sound and rhythm. Experience has shown that this goes hand in hand with an improved interplay between intuition and analysis, feeling and reason. Basically, beautiful music activates centres in the brain that make you happy and stimulate the body’s self-reward system.”
Piano-playing as a cultural heritage
Besides these sociological and medical implications, of course, piano-playing and piano music also have an intrinsic value. Ever since the piano was invented in the early 18th century, all the major composers have written for this wonderful instrument, which can substitute an entire orchestra in its own right, belongs to nearly all chamber music ensembles and can be an equal partner to symphony orchestras.
Even today, the repertoire of piano music is still growing. Musicians keep on reinterpreting works for or with the piano, firing the enthusiasm of audiences as they address both their intelligence and emotions. In this context, the Carl Bechstein Foundation specifically supports highly gifted young pianists who devote themselves to this heritage and intend to improve their skills to offer audiences the best possible performances.