Carl Demler

Beethoven Pianos Featured in The New York Time's Editor's Choice: The Grand Obsession by Perri Knize


The daughter of a professional musician, Perri Knize was raised in a home saturated in classical music, but it wasn't until midlife, in the midst of her successful career as a investigative reporter, that she realized she'd missed her true calling –the piano. After years of lessons, she decides to buy a piano of her own and begins her search. She falls madly, illogically, in love with a rare German grand she discovers in a New York City Showroom. After a long dalliance, Knize refinances her house to buy this "magic" instrument she dubs "Marlene", after Dietrich, for its sultry voice. But when Marlene arrives at her home in Montana, the sound that transfixed her is gone, the tone dead and dull. One piano tuner after another arrives to fix it, but no one can. 

Rather than send the piano back, Knize embarks on a mad quest to restore the instrument to its rightful sound –and to understand the reason for its elusive power. Putting her investigative skills to work, she falls down a rabbit hole into a hidden world, discovering a tribe of concert artists, dealers, technicians, composers, designers, physicists, philosophers, passionate amateurs, and instrument builders –intriguing and eccentric characters all –whose lives have also been transformed by the spell if a piano. She even hikes into the Austrian Alps to learn how the special trees used to build her piano are grown and harvested. With each step of her journey, Knize draws ever-closer to uncovering the reason her piano's sound vanished, how to get it back, and the deeper secret of how music leads us to a direct experience of the nature of reality. 

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Beethoven Piano Move to 211 58th Street Mentioned on Musical Chairs on Piano Row as Klavierhaus Moves Out

New York’s Piano Row just got smaller.

The piano dealer Klavierhaus, a favored haunt for international pianists since the 1990s, on Monday moved out of its storefront showroom on West 58th St. after a competitor, Beethoven Pianos, purchased the building and took over its space. Klavierhaus has moved to a new location several blocks away.

The transaction is the latest in a series of moves that signal the downsizing of the midtown piano retail district, which sits between Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and for decades has drawn piano buyers from around the world. (Also remaining are Faust-Harrison and Allegro Pianos, a far cry from the 1980s when nearly a dozen piano businesses ruled the block.)

Beethoven Pianos will lose about 2,000 square feet when it moves to the new 4,000-square-foot storefront, a move that is expected next week. Demler notes, however, that much of his company’s restoration work is done out of a 34,000-square-foot facility in the Bronx. A fixture on Piano Row for more than 40 years, Beethoven Pianos is known for its more populist appeal and ability to attract walk-in clients.

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The New York Times features our very own Carl Demler: With Building’s Sale, Piano Row Will Lose Another Key

** Beethoven Pianos moved to a new location across the street at 211 West 58th Street

Carl Demler, the owner of the building and the store — Beethoven Pianos — said he was selling the building to the Extell Development Corporation, which bought the building next door several years ago and has recently torn it down. He said he would hand over the keys on Monday. He also said that he expected to move Beethoven Pianos into another storefront on Piano Row but had not signed a lease.

The building he is selling was built “three years before Carnegie” — and if you wanted to get there from his front door, you could have practiced going right, walking to the end of the block, crossing Seventh Avenue, turning right again and then crossing West 57th Street to reach the famous concert hall. Mr. Demler, a soft-spoken man who seems to have a dry sense of humor, said he discovered the building 22 years ago, when it was “just a shell.

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The Piano Mover by Brendan Spiegel: Thirty-nine years and 50,000 instruments later, Carl Demler has been wrong exactly twice.

Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen, a concert pianist and artist who goes by “Coco,” moved into a new Soho duplex this spring that offers a dream layout for any New York City musician. At the front of the apartment, a row of double-length bay windows stretches the height of both stories, pouring light into a hardwood-floor alcove just wide enough to accommodate Nguyen’s sleek black Steinway Model B grand piano—the perfect spot to sit and practice for her Carnegie Hall solo debut this fall.

However, as in so many seemingly perfect New York City apartments, there was one rather daunting hurdle standing in the way of her grand vision: stairs.

Many moving companies refuse to handle pianos altogether, afraid of being blamed for damaging an expensive instrument as it twists and turns through doors and across hallways, up and down creaky stairways, its hundreds of tiny, ancient parts jumping and jiggling around inside. Instead, movers will often decline to even touch a piano, simply instructing clients to “call the piano guy.”

The piano guy is Carl Demler, a 76-year-old German immigrant who is one of the last remaining New Yorkers practicing a once common trade: the delicate, and perhaps unenviable, craft of piano moving. At Nguyen's home last spring, Demler amounted to an unlikely sight –a thin, white-haired chief quietly but firmly directing his crew of burly men as they struggled to coax the Steinway into cooperation.

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Carl Demler & Beethoven Pianos Featured in Sundance Documentary: Mott Music

This documentary is about the marvelous discovery of a Piano Factory in the South Bronx and the characters that dwell within. Once a part of Mott's Iron Works in the 1880's, the largest producer of cast iron tubs of its time, now Beethoven Pianos is a place of piano restoration. Once inside, explore the synchronous lives of a piano voicer, a piano dealer, and a piano technician. 

Written & Directed by Jarred Alterman