Franz Mohr, a life in tune

Courtesy of Oregon Public Broadcasting, here is a fascinating interview with long-time Steinway chief concert technician, Franz Mohr, who was also the personal piano technician to Horowitz. The program is called “A Life in Tune,” from OPB’s Think Out Loud. It’s a bit of departure from their usual public affairs programming, so listen on line and be counted among their listeners! Great anecdotes about Horowitz, Rubinstein and others. The entire program is about 52 minutes long. Follow the link or right click on “Save target as”

Here is the blurb from the OPB website

Franz Mohr talks about pianos in a different way than you may be accustomed to. He might start with the wood: close-grained Alaskan sitka, Eastern seaboard or European spruce, resinous sugar pine, hard-rock maple. He’ll touch on labor: 400 different craftsmen spending nine months putting 5000 pieces together. There are the serial numbers — some famous, among a certain set — of the finished products: CD 75, or CD 223, or his beloved CD 314 503. And only then might he get to the Who’s Who of concert pianists of the last century: Vladimir Horowitz and Glenn Gould, Rudolf Serkin and Van Cliburn, Artur Rubinstein and André Watts. Franz Mohr worked with all of them.

From 1968 until 1992, Mohr was the “head concert technician” for Steinway and Sons pianos. He traveled the world to tune, tweak, regulate, and repair the pianos of the masters before their major performances and recording sessions. He learned, early on, that Horowitz favored a very light, responsive action (and found it, with Mohr’s help, in CD 314 503), and that Rubinstein sought more resistance in the keys. He learned that pianos, like people, have natural emotional tendencies. Some are big and brash, born for the grand hall. Others shine in small chamber conversation.

Franz Mohr will join us in the studio to talk about all of this, and more. Are you interested in the backstage lives of the pianists he’s worked for? Or perhaps the pianos he’s worked on? Are you a pianist yourself? Have you found the piano of your dreams? If not, what would it feel like? What would it sound like

You can give OPB a shout out for producing such an informative and intelligent program by using the comment function on their website here

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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2 comments on “Franz Mohr, a life in tune”

  1. Composerbastard

    I grew up on a steady diet of Artur Rubinstein recordings – all of them – so I have a heightened interest in hearing what Mohr will reveal. Afterall, who could a great pianist be more intimate with than his personal technician?

  2. Pingback: On Piano Tuners | The Wrong End of a Telescope

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