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by Daniel Hathaway

Zierer-PianoWhen Oberlin faculty violinist Marilyn McDonald and pianist David Breitman play Beethoven sonatas in the Conservatory’s Kulas Recital Hall on Saturday, September 13 at 4:30 pm, they’ll be joined by the latest addition to Oberlin’s impressive collection of historic keyboard instruments. An Anton Zierer fortepiano built in Vienna in 1829 came to live in Oberlin last summer and has kept Robert Murphy, the conservatory’s curator of fortepianos, busy getting it settled into a new environment.

Murphy began working with his mentor, 1963 Oberlin graduate Edward Swenson, in his Trumansburg, NY restoration shop when he was 14, and has logged “close to a hundred” historical restorations or work on historical replicas. “At any one time,” Murphy recalled, “Swenson might have had a Graf fortepiano next to a Steinway next to a Baldwin upright, with a virginal off in the corner, and he was working on all of them at the same time.”

Sometimes benign neglect works in the favor of technicians who are charged with restoring historic instruments. Read the rest of this entry »

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