About Ben

Underneath a piano in a church in Havana Photo by Laara Matsen

Underneath a piano in a church in Havana
Photo by Laara Matsen

Benjamin Treuhaft’s training in his craft began more than 40 years ago.  He learned to tune and regulate in piano factories in the American midwest and east coast and honed his skills in New York in the early 1970s at the prestigious Steinway & Sons Concert Basement where he tuned daily for international stars such as Vladimir Horowitz and Glenn Gould (both have all since died but Ben is not responsible).  

He learned rebuilding in the San Francisco piano shop of Victor Charles.  He has tuned in Carnegie Hall and Philharmonic Hall in New York, the Paris Opera, the Teatro Nacional in Havana and Casas das Rosas in Sao Paulo.  

Until his idyllic life there was rudely interrupted by TEPCO, Ben had moved the Underwater Piano Shop – originally founded in Berkeley, California, to Tokyo. The shop has since moved via container ship to New York City for two years en route to its final resting place in Edinburgh. He calls it “Underwater” because he sometimes tunes below C level.

Ben has experience rebuilding and tuning for both the famous and the impoverished, not only at the US and Japan, but also in Cuba.  In 1995 he founded a cultural exchange called Send a Piana to Havana following a visit to Cuba, whose old Soviet-made pianos have been ravaged by tropical climate and termites and by years of pounding by the dedicated students in that country’s famous music schools.  The organization helped send more than 250 pianos donated by Americans to Cuban schools. He comes by his internationalism naturally.  His parents were Jessica (Decca) Mitford, the muckraking writer, and Civil Rights attorney Robert Treuhaft. 

Charles Darden said…
I have known Ben since the Berkeley days. I was a friend of his mother Jessica Mitford. I moved to the East Village many years before he arrived. I am a pianist/conductor and I jumped for joy when I saw Ben on the street in the village one day. He has tuned all of my pianos. He IS one of the best tuners in the world. Edinburgh will find this out especially during the Festival time. When I visited Cuba several years ago, his name was mentioned all over and they are so thankful to have had him send pianos there. Edinburgh is about to get a bolt of lightening and a great guy. Don’t be fooled Ben is one of the best piano technicians in the world. He did leave a pastrami sandwich in my grand piano after a tuning my grand piano. I guess he was in a hurry to get to the next job. So I ate the sandwich. May God bless Ben and his wonderful family. He should have no problem in Great Britain. After all, he aunt is the Duchess of Devonshire.

 

Jorge Lopez-Marin’s danzon Médico de Pianos, written to thank Ben for a Cuban tuning, is a hit throughout the Spanish speaking world. This version is Performed by the Cuban feminine septet Camerata Romeu, known to the composer as Las Quatorze Rodillas – the Fourteen Knees, in honor of their alluring physiology.

 

 

The Piano Tuner’s Lament, by Ben Treuhaft