About a year ago, an old, beat-up, out-of-tune piano showed up at Luke Piano Company in Denver, and Marshall Luke couldn’t have been happier.
“I have a passion for pianos,” Luke says through a smile.
This project was one of the toughest in his career as a piano technician. He’s owned and operated this little shop for 45 years.
“This piano was built in 1873,” says Luke. “It’s known as a Steinway Monitor Grand.”
Over the last year you would have seen his long gray hair flowing over his paint covered smock, as he worked away restoring this piano. He’d be seen in his shop carefully peering through small round glasses while he worked on the old instrument with his apprentice, Jake Miro.
“This is a historic piano,” says Luke. “It is one of 15, maybe, in the world. We know where there’s five.”
Incredibly rare piano has been restored at Denver shop
Luke is sure there isn't another one in this condition in the United States. This one has been in the customer's family for 70 years. Luke did a full refurbish job on this piece. He kept it as historically accurate as possible to show how it looked in 1873 -- right down to how the hammers hit the strings.
“To be able to maintain the history of this piano,” explains Luke, “it was critical that we stuck to the original piano action.”
You can hear Luke's hard work pay off.
“I love to play it when it’s done,” says Luke, as he tickles the fresh ivory before sending the instrument home to it’s owner on Lookout Mountain. “You can hear how great of a piano it is, and all the hours you put into it are truly worth it. That’s the prize ... What a piano."
Watch the full story from photojournalist Mike Grady in the video above.