New York Works: Carnegie Hall's Piano Tuner

Monday, May 30, 2011

As piano tuner for Steinway & Sons, Ismael Cunha's role as a concert technician at Carnegie Hall means he must keep the pianos in pitch-perfect condition.

Cunha, originally from Portugal, is a 25-year veteran of the craft and spends his days racing among the city's most important pianos — from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center to Broadway. On a busy Saturday he can tune up to 14 pianos, often facing the stressful deadlines.

"When you play a note, you feel, you hear ... when you put your fingers into the keys and ears into the sound, there's a feeling in the sound, too," he said. "But, it's like a body, a fullness of sound."

Cuhna uses his tuning hammers and plays notes again and again until they are in tune: "By using these rubber wedges, I’m blocking the string from vibrating," he said. "And you just move note by note."


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Comments [6]

Ruthie Almeida from Woburn, MA

He is actually a very good singer also. Even out of tune.LOL I remember sitting by his side on the piano bench. I was nine years old and he was 13 I believe. OH, I almost forgot he is part ninja and has Spiderman like qualities. Way to go Litto(childhood nickname)oops, maybe he doesn't want anyone to know! Hee hee

Jan. 22 2012 09:13 PM

Doesn´t look like Keith Jarrett

Sep. 29 2011 12:52 PM
Alexandre from Portugal

Mr Cunha,

Ei rapaz, que proeza a tua. Manda noticias

Sep. 10 2011 02:35 PM
Scott D

Grats to Mr. Cunha for his dedication to the art of piano tuning. I can't imagine being responsible for the pianos of Carnegie Hall. For a taste of what's involved in piano tuning, check out It's a skill that's in need of apprentices.

Jun. 08 2011 07:22 PM
Jay Dhen

Good afternoon,

Anyone reading this ought to read "Piano, The making of a Steinway Concert Grand" by James Barron. Whether your interest are in music or craftsmanship it's great to know that there people out there carrying on a tradition.

regards, Jay

May. 30 2011 01:14 PM

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