Most famous piano tuner in the world has died

Franz Mohr, who in his 24 years as the chief concert technician for Steinway & Sons brought a musician’s mind-set to the mechanics of important pianos and the care of those who played them, died on March 28 at his home in Lynbrook, N.Y., on Long Island, where he lived. He was 94. His son Michael, the director of restoration and customer services at Steinway, confirmed the death.

“I play more in Carnegie Hall than anybody else,” Mr. Mohr said in 1990, “but I have no audience.”

Franz Mohr was born in Nörvenich, Germany, on Sept. 17, 1927, the son of Jakob Mohr, a postal worker, and Christina (Stork) Mohr. The family moved to nearby Düren when he was a child; in 1944, when he was a teenager, he survived an air raid.

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

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