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MMD > Archives > February 2018 > 2018.02.14 > 04Prev  Next

The Tushinsky Vorsetzers & Their Fates, Part 3
By Jim Miller

Vorsetzer No. 3:

No. 3, the "Tri-Plex" Vorsetzer (as it was to be dubbed by some
now-forgotten, creative soul) also remained Tushinsky's 'till the end
but, was at that tragic time found in a million parts (Remember the
perfecting?) being spread all over Creation, in the work area at the
Encino house.

Coming to the rescue (Always!) I reassembled the mess, got it working
once again, when soon after it was sold, complete with all thousands of
Welte T-100 "Red" rolls, to "a buyer in the Far East."  As Good Fortune
was to have it, this loss was not to last, as it was sent back to sunny
California for sale there, at auction.

This really was a good outcome, as various of previously disappointed
Mignon collectors were then enabled to pick-and-choose from the
bristling, tempting cherry-like titles.

(I'd already gotten my cut off-the-top, in exchange for the reassembly
which without, would have nixed the whole original deal.)

The No. 3 itself was bought at the auction by a Southern California
collector, Tom Steuer, who paid just under one-tenth of what Tushinsky
originally had paid.  A plan originated between us was that I was to
put it back into prime condition but, in the end, we could not come
to terms, so Mr. Steuer then proceeded to have work done to it by
a local technician of rather well-known, infamous incapabilities.
Just after this he was to pass away, tragically, the instrument being
then sold to a Canadian private collector, in whose hands it rests to
this day, but as not working.  Presently, it's eventual fate-to-be is

Having been delivered well after the taping of Keybpard Immortals radio
broadcasts had ceased, No. 3 was never to be heard by any listening
public.  Many have mistaken my instrument's play for that of what was
exclusively heard on the program.

 - - -

Here a personal note: Over the decades of perfecting the Tri-Plex's
play, I was to spend many hundreds of pleasant days and evenings at
Joseph Tushinsky's Encino house, often staying-over for dinner, for late
night private recitals and later, ice-cream and coffee or whatnot in the
kitchen with "Mr. T", as I used to call him, discussing rolls, music and
matters-Mignon generally.  Then, retiring for yet-more work the next

Curiously, the later, bettered creature seemed to play it's finest after
dark.  Particularly, I remember one instance when Anatol von Roessel's
Mignon record-roll of Liszt's Fifth Hungarian Rhapsody had been that
evening's lucky pick.  By Liszt himself it was dubbed Héroïde-élégiaque
and marked Lento, con duolo.  This work is a funeral dirge/tribute, and
is a most Ungarishe type dark confection -- not at all gay nor much
Gypsy-riotous as usual.

That evening, while J.S.T. and I were auditioning it, to it's dual
auditioneers this quality became palpable and transmissive utterly.
"Creepy!" best describes this moment, as we both eyed one another in
spontaneous, utter disbelief for such a potent emotional effect it and
von Roessel had produced, by means of Homo ex Mechina!

This instance and others of similar-like, convinced this writer whiles-
ago, of the near-mystical potential latent always within reproducers,
this for _bringing the musical dead back to life!_  Throughout numerous
of artists' testimonials, their living-on by means of one or another
particular reproducing medium, was often present and paramount as a

End note.

 [ Hear György Cziffra perform Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5 at
 [ -- Robbie

 - - -

Vorsetzer No. 4:

No. 4: It seems that this Duo-Art vorsetzer (Fred Tushinsky's) was to
become an authentic Instrument of Diplomacy!

In the late-Seventies, the Tushinsky brothers decided, in order to
further solidify and extend friendly relations with Tokyo, to send this
instrument as a gift to Mr. *Akio Morita, the then-Chairman of the SONY
Corporation.  Just after its delivery, as well this writer was sent for
it's situating and regulation at Mr. Morita's home, located within the
Shinjuku Prefecture at Tokyo.  This work took one whole month to
accomplish there, and first at the main plant not far from my situated
place as Hotel Pacifica.

After finished and playing not too terribly, pleasure with the
successful effort was expressed by a PREMIERING PARTY given by the
Morita's, which took place on a Saturday evening, if I recall correctly.
Present were Mr. & Mrs. Morita their son Hideo and a daughter; Mr. Norio
Ohga, then-president of SONY; Mr. Kenkichi Umeda, then head of the Tape
Recorder Division; and Shoici Nakamura, my assigned helper/shadow,
provided by SONY for the entire time I was there.  Others, too, were
present but who's names I cannot now recall.

For the musical part, I chose for demonstration a number of Duo-Art
titles that I knew to be sure-fire players, such as Horowitz's trade-
mark Carmen improvisation (At this time Horowitz was part of Sony's
stable of piano luminaries, having recently before acquired Columbia
Records, so I knew this title would be particularly apt.) and,
Prokofiev's 'Suggestion Diabolique' since we were so close there to
Russia plus, a nocturne of Chopin's placed somewhere in-between and,
something or other 'Bach-Liszt' to start.  Before, during and after the
proceedings, all present seemed satisfied and entertained.

 - - -

Another personal note: If matters had NOT gone thus -- the Vorsetzer
apparatus having played ". . . like a pig!" as de Pachmann sometimes
referred to his own playing -- I shudder now to think of what likely
would have happened, upon my return to the U.S.!  Being back then
youthful and nearly clueless as I was to the exigencies required by
Reality, this as a possibility had not in any least way occurred to me.

Also, much more of this adventurous month has yet-to-be-told but, such
delicious, adventurous aspects I'll withhold here, for the retelling

End note.

 - - -

As to the eventual fate of this one, No. 4, I've no knowledge but,
I think it safe to say that, it is likely that is it still owned by
the Morita family.

Vorsetzer No. 5:

This other of the pair built by Mel Shores for Irving Tushinsky, was to
be bought in 1987 from Irving's son Jack, also by collector Tom Steuer,
who ten years later in 1997 then acquired No.3, the "Tri-Plex".  As to
the fate of this one, I've not a clue.  I would guess tho it was likely
sold by Tom Steuer upon or before the purchase of my instrument.
Someone must know but, I do not.

* A great deal of information regarding Mr. Akio Morita, can be found
on the Internet.  In the annals of international business-doing, he
was truly legendary.  He possessed a genuine matured interest in the
reproducing piano as an effective concept for the conservation and
transmission of musical art, as well as for having been a successful,
most interesting enterprise of the past.  Also, as I was to most
pleasantly discover, he spoke perfect, idiomatic American English!

Next: a delicious coda to all, containing bits of this-and-that as
recently discovered!

Jim Miller

 [ Enjoy a Liszt encore at 
 [ ;-)  -- Robbie

(Message sent Wed 14 Feb 2018, 12:10:12 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  3, Fates, Part, Their, Tushinsky, Vorsetzers

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