Frank Benner
piano technician

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piano stories

A nice mess

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are no great pianists but we can see them meet up with several pianos in different films.

Stan Laurel is actually called Arthur Stanley Jefferson and was born on the 16th of June of the year 1890 in Ulverston in England.
He was the son of a theatre artist and was raised in the English Music Halls.
He probably got acquainted with pianos there although he did not play them. In 1910 he visits the United States as a member of the ‘Fred Karno Musical-comedy troupe’.
Charlie Chaplin
was in that company too.
Laurel stayed in the States, travelled and performed in films.
He died on the 23th of February in 1965 and is buried in the Burbank Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

Oliver Hardy studied Law, was destined to join the Army, but started a cinema instead, in Milledgeville in Georgia. Later he found work as an actor in the Lubin Film Company.
Hardy moved to Hollywood and in the Twenties he worked as an actor playing all kinds of parts at the Hal Roach studios.

Oliver’s first name was Norvell. He was born on the 18th of January in 1892 in Harlem in Georgia and died on the 7th of August in 1975.

Laurel and Hardy are well known for their many short silent films which were converted into ‘talkies’ later. When they became world famous, they started making complete feature films.

In the film ‘The Music Box’ Laurel and Hardy take a lot of trouble carrying a piano up, seemingly endless steps, leading to a house on the top of a hill.
When they finally arrive, wiping their faces, the spectator watches the piano slowly descending the stairs again, behind their backs.
First you hear the sound of the piano hitting the ground followed by a series of wild piano tones slowly fading out. All this time, the two faces of Laurel and Hardy are the only thing to be seen…
It was the longest close up in film history. They earned an Oscar for ‘The Music box’ in 1932

Laurel and Hardy definitely show a musical talent, especially when they literally poke each others eyes with it!

K. Schippers:

This combination of humour and seriousness, humour and tragedy even, explains the fascination of Dutch poet K.Schippers for someone like Stan Laurel, for the clown in general.

Piano is five meters from stool
Pull the piano towards the stool

Such an event is both tragic and comic.

Fluxus Piano