Franz Mohr, piano tuner for the stars, is dead at the age of 94

His interest in music did not begin with pianos, but with viola and violin. He studied at the academies in Cologne and Detmold and played guitar and mandolin in German dance bands in his 20s.

He was playing Dixieland music one night when he spotted a woman on the dance floor. “I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and said to my friends, ‘This is the girl I’m going to marry,'” he recalls in his memoir. Her name was Elisabeth Zillikens and they married in 1954. Along with his son Michael, she survives him, as does a daughter, Ellen; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Another son, Peter, died in 2019.

Tendinitis forced Mr. Mohr to give up performing when he was 20, his son said, and he turned to pianos in response to a job advertisement from piano manufacturer Ibach. It led to an education. Another advertisement sent him to the United States in 1962.

The ad said Steinway was looking for piano technicians – in New York. As a devout churchgoer, he had connected with a German-speaking Baptist church in Elmhurst, Queens, who showed him the ad. He contacted Steinway and was soon hired as an assistant to William Hupfer, the company’s chief concert technician.

It didn’t take long for Mr. Mohr to tune in to stars like famed eccentric Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who came to New York to record. (In Toronto, Gould relied on another tuner, Verne Edquist, who died in 2020.)

Mr. Mohr not only worked on the piano in the recording studio; He also drove around New York with Gould. “He loved cars in Lincoln Town,” wrote Mr. Mohr in his memoirs. “That’s all he would drive. He once said to me: “Franz, I found out that next year’s model will be two centimeters shorter. do you know what i did I bought two Town Cars this year.” Franz Mohr, piano tuner for the stars, is dead at the age of 94

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