The History of Pianos Wholesale

Written by R. Scott McKay

Nestled in a quiet pocket of the western San Gabriel Valley, one can find traditional European craftsmanship still flourishing. This is the workshop of Ivan Tudor. He is an artist of international reputation, yet a gentle man who eschews the arrogant trappings his reputation could bring and infuses his charm into everything he accomplishes. He is a direct descendant of Renaissance masters and is the master craftsman at Pianos Wholesale.

Trained in the rich traditions of the master instrument makers of Europe, the young apprentice attracted the attention of many of the most preeminent manufacturers of musical instruments of Europe. Here he established his reputation as one of the most gifted artisans on the Continent.

The maestro was born on the Island of Hvar in the Adriatic Sea to a family whose traditions can be traced to the Fifteenth Century. In his seventeenth year, he claimed his baccalaureate in musical engineering. Harmonia, a prestigious instrument maker, rewarded his genius by naming him Director of the Institute and Technical Director for Harmonia itself.

After excelling in advanced studies at the renown School of Music in Zagreb, he was brought to Germany by the House of Stahl, which had for generations created fine pianos, pipe organs and guitars. As their protégé, his genius was allowed to blossom. He began to improve on processes, fashioning new pneumatic valves and vibratos for pipe organs. Steirer Stahl Orgelbau had made pipe organs for decades for the finest musicians in the world, and this young artist developed new electric assemblies for organs and fashioned many other mechanical and electronic advancements.

Lured to a respected competitor, he used his genius to solve problems others could not. He continued his innovations, improving the construction and purity of sound of the instruments on which he worked. His reputation as a master craftsman whose inventions had tremendously improved fine instruments spread across the Continent and eventually brought him to the United States.

In the last quarter-century, he was called to America, where his unique talents were very much in demand. He accepted a position with David Saphir, whose family had for generations built pianos for the world's greatest musicians. Saphir owned Pianos Wholesale in Los Angeles, and needed Tudor's talents as Master of Piano Rebuilding, an intricate and time-consuming art. He inspired other artisans from around the world in rebuilding fine pianos for decades, guiding them with all the understanding and artistic talent at his command. It is largely due to this expertise that the firm flourished into one of the premiere piano outlets in the state. Because of his broad understanding of quality instruments, he has always found innovative solutions to musical problems.

After laboring so long in the service of others, the maestro knew it was time to open his own shop. He discovered the ideal location hidden in the San Gabriel Valley and secured the building in a single weekend, bringing with him the finest craftsmen from his professional practice in America.

He is the first to be embarrassed by a listing of his prodigious achievements, and most of us would not truly appreciate the clever innovations that mark his pianos as work touched by genius. Such is his humanity that he shares something with the pianos he lovingly rebuilds--he beguiles; he charms, as the sweet music from the pianos charms. He is proud of his studio tucked into the gently valley, where he continues to renew the life of fine instruments. He has completely rebuilt more than 8,000 grand pianos by hand and has supervised an additional 22,000 by his skilled team.

Another important element of continuing his skill and craft, the master must pass his knowledge and talent on to other generations. Calling upon his traditional training at the hands of other master instrument builders, Maestro Tudor has accepted talented youth into his apprenticeship program. Thus, he ensures the grand talents he possesses are in some measure passed along. Artistic craftsmen of this caliber represent nearly the last members of an honorable fraternity. Ivan Tudor is at their forefront.

His son John is continuing the family tradition by following in his father's footsteps. Apprenticed by his father and the pianists, symphonies, institutions, etc., he has worked for, he has become a highly regarded piano technician and consultant.

Artists and connoisseurs worldwide appreciate the sensitive, responsive touch of his pianos, and their instant reaction to any of their intentions. Patrons have included past and current members of the world's most prestigious philharmonics, orchestras, and concert halls. These beautifully restored instruments have been featured in major motion pictures and are sought constantly by the most successful pianists, actors and businesspeople in the country.

Rarely is the public privileged to meet so fine an artist. Whether working with a philharmonic conductor such as Zubin Mehta or teaching the scale to a child, he is entirely accessible, Genuine European hospitality and humanity are embodied in this warm and gentle man. He is ready to answer any questions you may have about how pianos are built, restored, and improved. This is your opportunity to discover how these beautiful instruments can improve the quality of life in your home.