Testimonials about Piano Restoration | Farley's House of Pianos
Piano Restoration Testimonials
“My 1949 Steinway Model B piano is an excellent example of the profound rebuilding work done by Tim Farley. Every moving part had been replaced with official Steinway parts making it an instrument of exceptional quality when I purchased it in 2004. After 18 years in my home I was still thrilled with the instrument but knew that detailed maintenance was a very important part of keeping the piano in its best form. Yet, in my heart, could I really take that step of additional investment? Would I be happy with the results? Haven't we all heard of “New and Improved” which only turns out to be the complete opposite of “Improved”? This work would require the piano to leave my home for a period of time and be taken to “the shop” where only this level of work can be accomplished. The answer to these questions resided in recognizing who it was that made this instrument so great from the beginning 18 years ago, and that was Tim Farley.
“Now, fast forward one month, and my Steinway B is back in my home – mission accomplished. Am I glad I made the investment? Absolutely! I'm over-the-top thrilled with the result. Tim and his team have taken a great piano to the next level. Immediately I noticed a smoother action throughout the entire keyboard, a gentle weight of key action, and a brilliance of tone that makes a Steinway stand out. But the most profound result I've noticed while playing is that the instrument beckons me to be a better musician. Now that's an invitation one can cherish!”
“Give a pianist Tim's piano and she will conquer the world! Thank you for the loveliest time.”
after playing a Farley's restored piano
as part of the Salon Piano Series
“My grateful thanks to you and everyone who worked on my piano! It sounds great, works great, looks great and is a pleasure to play even for my diminishing fingers. Granddaughter Mikaela will be thrilled when she gets a break in her cross-country season and can come for a visit.
“Your delivery people were very adept too – the piano arrived looking like an oversized blanketed baby and was treated so gently.
“I’ve already recommended your work to friends.
“I absolutely love the piano. Since getting back from our trip I can’t stop playing it. I play it every chance I get.”
“Our piano [restored by Farley's] remains one of our treasures in our world.”
Al & Alison
“Kate Blumenthal just emailed me a photo of her piano - so lovingly, beautifully restored by you. She sings your praises. Please let me join the chorus.
“How wonderful it is to see your life in action - from your friendly curiosity in the nitty-gritty to your consummate skills in bringing forth a renewed voice. To give Kate the chance to enjoy artistry - 1st in your artful rebuilding and then in a chance for her to play her best self.
“It is so moving, so encouraging to see such concern, such caring for what is truly, transcendentally important in life. We need you, Tim.
April 30, 2015
“Dear Mr. Farley,
“I would like to thank you for the great experience with your  Mason & Hamlin [CC1] concert grand. Very rarely [does] one play an instrument that has all the[se] qualities: inspiring sound in every register, singing quality, dynamic possibilities as well as responsive and easy mechanics.
“I am sure that this instrument would be a wonderful asset of any prime concert hall.
“With all my respect and best wishes,”
View the original handwritten letter by Martin Kasík
September 28, 2014
Please accept this very long overdue thank you for the magnificent 1929 Steinway B I had the great fortune of purchasing from you in 2007. Not just a vintage Steinway, but a vintage Farley Steinway, the fruit of uncompromising craftsmanship from two legendary workshops. As much a joy to play as it is to behold, it is my most prized possession. Never have I enjoyed owning anything as much as I do this piano.”
March 17, 2014
“Praise to Timothy Farley! It is simply amazing how he manages to restore old pianos and to bring them to new life again.”
Paul Badura Skoda
January 20, 2014
“Having performed a varied repertoire on Tim Farley's restored pianos and because of my experience as a certified Piano Technician, I can attest to the superior quality of the craftsmanship and artistry involved in his restorations: the tuning, the “voicing” and the action regulation. They are also beautifully refinished instruments. The result of the total product is best expressed in the words of the poet John Keats: 'A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.'
“And so it is with Farley's restored pianos.”
View the original handwritten letter by Frank Glazer
February 21, 2012
“To everyone at Farley's House of Pianos,
“This letter is an attempt at conveying our most deep and sincere thank you for our beautiful piano. It cannot possibly be adequate because there are no words sufficient enough. We are quite breathless with all you did, all you accomplished, all you put into this stunning instrument we have back in our home.
“You may not all realize how much this piano means to us. It is one of the earliest memories of my dear grandmother's home, (Mrs. Wilsa Arthur, an extraordinary musician), that I have. It has been a part of our sons' lives since they were born. And it will hopefully continue to grace their home for decades. It will be played by beginning students as well as accomplished players. It will bring unbelievably beautiful sounds to all who hear it.
“So thank you for your care, your skills, your workmanship, your ears. We are so very grateful.
Alison, Al, Max, & Willy Jewer
November 7, 2011
“Thank you so much for the marvelous evening of music and friendship you gave us last weekend. Alan was amazing. It was great fun to hear everyone play!
“And thank you especially for the phenomenal work you did on our piano. It is such a joy to play now - like never before. I feel so incredibly lucky to have such an exquisite instrument in my home. Thank you!
July 15, 2011
“Dear Tim and Renee,
“Thank you so much for donating the use of your fabulous Steinway D at Overture this summer! It was fantastic to have such a beautiful, responsive instrument at my fingertips. And it matched the Capitol Theater piano so well. (As if that were a surprise!) The two-piano concerts were great, extremely well-received, and would not have been possible without your generous help. Thank you again! And thank you for coming to so many of our concerts - it was great to see you there!
“With all best wishes always,”
“We wanted to let you know that we are absolutely thrilled to have our Baldwin SD10 (1968 Model restored by you in 2002) in our Music Room. We “grew up” in graduate school at the Cincinnati Conservatory with Baldwins. Only doctoral students were allowed to perform on the SD10s there. This is a piano worthy of any concert stage! We always dreamed of having a grand piano such as this, let alone a concert grand, in our house! It is a joy to practice on it, prepare for upcoming concerts, and we also look forward to doing some recording on it. The action is unbelievably even and the damper pedal is very sensitive. The piano has a wonderfully full cantabile tone and a booming bass.
“As my former piano teacher and mentor, Dr. Alexandra Pierce, (a very discriminating listener and owner of fine pianos) said when she heard our piano, 'What a Beauty!'
“We kind of 'chanced upon' this piano one beautiful August summer day, driving through Madison on our way home from Dubuque, Iowa. It seems that 'fate was on our side' that day when we discovered this wonderful piano at Farley's Pianos.”
James and Susan McKeever
UW-Parkside Music Faculty Members
November 16, 2008
“I am profoundly grateful to Timothy Farley, piano rebuilder, scholar, technician and tuner par excellence, for demonstrating the precious benefits there are in applying older, traditional tunings to keyboard instruments. I have found these tunings to be extraordinarily compelling and inspiring.
“I had already been curious about the idea of tuning keyboard (and fretted) instruments to historic temperaments of all kinds when I first visited Tim Farley's shop – then in downtown Madison – and encountered there some of these tunings, directly.
“Tim had some memorable and beautiful pianos there, rich, full, warm, colorful. I remember playing there the second subject of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata’s first movement; first, as it appears in the exposition – remarkably – in E Major, the major mediant, itself a kind of bridge in a structural bass-arpeggiation from the tonic through the mediant to the dominant; then that second group in the recapitulation where it answers in the sub-mediant, A, upper neighbor to the dominant, major, then its modal consequent beginning in A minor and back to a g bass and cadence to C Major. On Tim Farley's pianos one actually heard, vividly, the innate differences in key colors that exist among these tonalities, bringing them alive and giving a real aural sense to the harmonic structure of the piece. Also striking was the bursting out in the Neapolitan Db, fortissimo, before the third movement's Prestissimo, and the progression on an upward circle of fifths that follows, where one viscerally experienced the varied colorations within each harmonic change.
“I also remember playing some of those passages from Beethoven Concerti which feel somehow suspended by their remoteness to their home-keys. In the Second Concerto they are four measures in Db Major in its exposition and in Gb Major in its recapitulation. In the First Concerto, in the exposition, a downward circle of fifths metamorphoses kaleidoscopically from Ab to D natural and G, and, in the recapitulation, from Db to F, G and back to C. In the Third Concerto, the suspended Db in the development section, releasing into the dominant by going from its Neapolitan six through a diminished seventh on an F# bass. In the Fourth, there is a cantilena phrase in extreme registers, in Bb Major and, in the recapitulation, in Eb Major; and the cadence to C# – the tritone! – Minor in the development, desolate, lost, and, then, light-generating motion from C#, upper neighbor to B, V which is V of sub-mediant E, itself upper neighbor to D, the dominant. And in the Fifth, I played the second group, in Eb minor and Major, then in B minor/Cb Major, in the recapitulation in C# minor/Db Major, and in the coda, as in the ritornello, in Eb minor/Major.
“In seventh-comma modified meantone temperament, to which Tim Farley had tuned his pianos, all these harmonic relationships become fully alive and meaningfully colorful in a manner that, it seems, cannot be conveyed in standard equal temperament. We can admire much in the black-and-white lines and forms of great paintings, but how much richer and more beautiful they are in full color too!
“In seventh comma there no longer seems to be a need to overly fabricate a specialness to certain varied harmonies with concocted voicings, slowing of tempo, or what-have-you; now the pitches themselves manifest these colors and atmospheres directly and convincingly. In Schubert, too, music reappearing in various, often distantly related, keys, arrived at through extensive modulation, takes on new light and character in each of its emanations, in seventh-comma.
“I was fascinated by what I heard in Tim Farley's shop on that first visit, but it was not until after my next visit, perhaps twenty years later, to the Farley House of Pianos, that I started to use these tunings myself. In this more recent encounter I was so persuaded again, and intoxicated by it that I now try to have pianos, for every concert where it might be effected – sometimes one still faces stubborn resistance – as well as on my instruments at home, tuned to one-seventh syntonic modified meantone temperament.
“Midway between one-quarter (pure) and one-twelfth comma (equal) meantone, one-seventh comma seems to be a magical solution to both accommodating all keys (more or less) – albeit with some wolf intervals which even, when handfed with sensitive voicing, themselves add to the colorfulness and remoteness at the bottom of the circle of fifths, with their piquancy – and, at the same time, retaining an intrinsic 'variegated key-coloration'.
“No longer confined to only one key in two modes, major and minor, which in standard equal are then transposed eleven times, the older traditional tunings open up the spectrum, giving distinct individual character to each of twenty-four keys. This difference is both subtle and profound – subtle enough to sometimes use this temperament without anyone noticing it, other than maybe to comment on the unusually radiant and beautiful tone of that piano; profound in emanating real differences in keys and intervals while allowing the instrument to resonate euphoniously. This is a revelation!
“Instruments seem to be transformed by the application of one-seventh comma – poor and mediocre pianos become quite good, and good pianos become alive and glowing, the temperament even seems to improve acoustics!
“I have used this tuning for all kinds of music: Dowland, Byrd, John Bull, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Eliott Carter, Charles Wuorinen and others, there being no particular historical justification at all for using this one temperament for so many periods of music, the fact that it works so very satisfyinglying for all this music attests, I think, to its intrinsic viability as a general temperament for keyboard instruments.
“I am grateful to Timothy Farley, who devotedly explores and presents the great value in applying traditional temperaments and, in doing so, restores a world with key-colors, giving a singing, breathing, magical life to music.”
View the original handwritten letter by Peter Serkin
January 22, 2008
I want you and your associates to know how thrilled Angela and I were upon the return of our Steinway baby grand that you reconditioned for us. As you know, this is a piano I purchased as a wedding present for Angela in 1968 from the estate of a piano teacher in suburban Milwakuee who had given Angela lessons as a girl. It has been with us ever since, traveling from our early apartments, through several homes, to our current residence in Middleton. Throughout that 40 years, both Angela and I have enjoyed it, and all of our children learned to play on it.
“Although we have done our best to keep the piano in good shape, all that moving around and extensive use took its toll. As you observed when you first came to see it, it needed substantial renovation, including keys, strings, pegs, pedestal and finish.
“It was hard being without our Steinway for those months, although it was kind of you to provide me a 'loaner' to use. But it was worth the wait. It looks and sounds absolutely beautiful, better than it ever has during the time we have owned it. Since it returned to our living room, I've had a very difficult time leaving the piano and heading off to work each morning.
“We want to thank you and your talented technicians for restoring this beautiful instrument that we can now enjoy for many years. Please convey our gratitude to all who were involved.
Jeffery B. Bartell
January 17, 2008
“We wanted to write and tell you how happy we are with our restored piano! Not only is it beautiful but its sound is wonderful. Our son and daughter-in-law are really enjoying having it in their home. Kris loves the touch and sound she gets when playing the piano and her students are enjoying hearing about the history as well as playing on it. One of my biggest joys was hearing Paul playing over the holiday season! Our son Brent also sat down to play and I tried the few hymns I know. How fun it was to hear Paul and Kris trying some duets together! Thank you for your skill and expertise but also the love and care you put into the amazing work you and your team do. We will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the piano in 2008 with the knowledge that it will continue to perform during the next hundred years!
Paul and Jean Sandrock