Mr. Piano...

NBC Wannabe

Curator's note: Alas! Mr. Piano is not what he once was. On April 13th, 2006 many of his vital organs were harvested. Early in May of 2006 his remains were carted away. A fully-restored 1923 Steinway O has replaced him him. The curator and Queen will be obliged to play the new instrument without mechanical assistance. So stand by for some remarkable four-hands interpretations. But Mr. Piano's memory will be preserved: the curator recently discovered a tape Mr. Piano made ca. 1991. Shortly you'll be able to hear his interpretations of Ravel and Gershwin via streaming audio.

Above: Mr. Piano---who resides in the curator's parlor---pretends he's on standby duty in studio F. He's hoping that a remote from the Palmer House will fail, or that a newscaster in studio C will run out of wire copy (or even pass out at the microphone). For in case of such misfortune, it would be Mr. Piano's job to play until the scheduled broadcast could be restored.
"But", you may say, "there is no one sitting at Mr.Piano's keyboard." That's true. And Mr. Piano prefers it that way. For he's quite capable of playing himself. That's because Mr. Piano is a model NR George Steck/Aeolian Duo-Art reproducing piano. Punched holes in piano rolls tell Mr. Piano what notes to play. They also tell him how loudly or softly to play.

Mr. Piano entered the world (that is, rolled off the George Steck assemply line) on Ocrober 29th, 1928. A few months later, Uncle Jimmy Korshak (1895-1937) purchased him at the Lyon and Healy Music Store in Chicago as a Christmas gift for his 13 year-old daughter, Roslyn.

Jimmy Korshak operated a pharmacy in Chicago's Douglas Park neighborhood. He also loaned small amounts of money at high rates of interest to Italians. And from 1920 until 1933 he sold, along with the normal run of analgesics and laxatives that he stocked, distilled spirits. A Federal grand jury once indicted Uncle Jimmy for violation of the Volstead act. Uncle Jimmy was not convicted (though Maurice, his younger brother, was). (Click here for more on the Korshak family).

There was a sign on the side of Uncle Jimmy's drug store that read, "Honk Your Horn if You Want to Buy Something". Jimmy provided curb service to the passing motorist. To this day, that's how most drugs in Douglas Park are sold.

In time, Cousin Roslyn Korshak married. But her husband died while still a young man. They had no children. Mr. Piano was like her child. She took very good care of him.

Several years ago, Cousin Roslyn was obliged to enter a nursing home on account of ill health. For a time, Mr. Piano went to live with one of the daughters of Cousin Gloria Korshak. That was, from Mr. Piano's perspective, not a satisfactory arrangement. Cousin Gloria's daughter had a cat that tried to mate, vigorously but unsuccessfully, with Mr. Piano's 88-note pneumatic, a four-inch long device that hangs beneath his case just anterior to the point where his lyre is attached.

Mr. Piano came to live with us not long thereafter. Shortly he will undergo a complete restoration that will leave him better than new, and much better able to interpret the works of Franz Liszt that are his favorites.
Cousin Roslyn is pleased that Mr. Piano has found a loving home. She also believes that Thomas E. Dewey is the nation's President.

Click here to meet Rachel, Mr. Piano's replacement.

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Created by Rich Samuels (e-mail to