Oral History Information
Michael Feisthammel is a lifelong history teacher who has a passion for the construction and design of pianos. He acquired a Chicago-made Conover '77 grand almost 20 years ago. The high quality of his old Conover piano aroused his deep curiosity in the Chicago piano industry, which provided the impetus in writing a book on the forgotten industry. During the pandemic of 2020 he launched the deep study and documentation of at least 75 Chicago's piano manufacturers. Chicago at one time was second to New York in the production of pianos and had the largest piano factories in the nation if not in the world. His research explores the sociological and economic factors behind Chicago's development as the nation's musical instrument center, but also, the history of many piano makes. These makes such as Bush & Gerts, Cable-Conover, Charles Fredrick Stein, Gulbransen, and Julius Bauer were known for their high quality and innovative manufacturing in the Chicago's piano industry which almost spanned a century.