Horowitz. Rubinstein. Cliburn. Gould. Those names conjure up thoughts of footlights, concert halls, and life in the public eye. Beyond the piano, those musicians all have one thing in common...one person who helped them perform to the peak of their abilities. Franz Mohr.
Franz Mohr was, for decades, the go-to piano technician for Steinway. He traveled with Cliburn and Horowitz, making certain their instruments were set up to their exacting standards. He dealt with the idiosyncrasies of Glenn Gould. He occasionally drove Emil Gilels to concerts (which made Steinway very nervous). He made sure never to mention Artur Rubinstein's name in the presence of Horowitz.
Franz Mohr and I had a delightful and fascinating conversation about his decades as a concert piano technician for Steinway and Sons. His book, My Life with the Great Pianists is one you will not want to put down. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
As an added bonus, here's Van Cliburn playing the National Anthem with the Ft. Worth Symphony on Opening Day, 1994, in Arlington Stadium.