Death of Glenn Gould’s blind piano tuner

Death of Glenn Gould’s blind piano tuner


norman lebrecht

September 02, 2020

The Glenn Gould Foundation mourns the passing of Verne Edquist, Glenn Gould’s long-time piano technician.


Born blind in Saskatchewan, Verne received vocational training at the Ontario School for the Blind and started work as a teenager in Toronto piano factories.

He tuned pianos for Gina Bachauer, Emil Gilels and Victor Borge, but turned down Gould at first because Gould was notorious for firing his Steinway technicians and tuners. Eventually they worked together as friends for 20 years.


  • Daniel Poulin says:

    Verne Edquist was one of three piano tuners Gould trusted. The first one was Bill Hupfer who became famous for the wrong reason. Gould had sued Steinway for 300 thousand dollars in the early 60’s claiming that Hupfer injured his shoulders thus forcing him to cancel some concerts. A settlement was reached out of courts but Steinway had to find another tuner for Gould. His name was Franz Mohr whose relationship with Gould lasted a good twenty years. The two became friends. Mohr also tuned pianos for Rubinstein, Horowitz, Gilels and Cliburn.

  • Edgar Self says:

    What’s the story of the injured shoulders, Daniel? Seems unlikely for a tuner.

    • Amos says:

      Gould claimed that a slap or tap on the back by Hupfer caused the injury.

    • Daniel Poulin says:

      The story goes as follows. Hupfer had been at the Columbia Records Studio in New York preparing Gould’s piano for a recording session. As he finished tuning the instrument Gould arrived. Everyone knew that Gould was very particular about his hands, so Hupfer did not greet him with a handshake. Instead, he rested his hands on the artist’s shoulder and said “Glad to see you; how are you Glenn?” Gould became furious when Hupfer touched him. He later claimed that Hupfer had injured his shoulder. Not Gould’s most glorious episode.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Many thanks, Amos and Daniel Poulin, for your additional information What a strange story. I assume Gould did not stay under contract to Steinway after the lawsuit.

  • Elle says:

    My Great-Grandfather Henri Kneifel.. apprenticed Verne Edquist…such an incredible loss. My deepest condolences to the Edquist family. I wish I would have had the opportunity to speak with Verne.. Anyone with information please reach out Nine-One-Two-Five-Zero-Seven-Nine-Nine-Six-Six or elle [dot]elinknan