Ulrich Gerhartz, the unsung hero

Posted on: February 25, 2009

In Monday’s (2/23) Guardian (London), Jasper Rees profiles piano technician Ulrich Gerhartz. “In an all but invisible way, Gerhartz is probably the single most important figure in the entire piano world, at least to pianists and to concert halls. He’s just back from Melbourne, where he set up two concert grands in a new venue. Stored in his mobile phone, he has the numbers of just about every top piano player on the planet. ‘And their agents,’ he adds. … To call this man a piano-tuner would be to sell him a tad short. Gerhartz, Steinway’s director of concert and artist services, is a master piano-tuner, maybe even a maestro. And tuning is not nearly as simple as it sounds. U.S. orchestras specifically request a pitch of 440Hz for an A, while European ones generally go for 441. … Depth of touch is all important,” Rees writes. “Some pianists like the piano set up so that all they have to do is tickle the key and a note sounds. Others opt for resistance. … And then each piano has its own personality, which gradually emerges in the first year or two of its performing life. It is Gerhartz’s job to steer a pianist in the direction of the right instrument.”