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Historic piano recovered following Beverly Glen mudslide

After a winter storm slammed Southern California with record-breaking rainfall, a piano made news after it was ejected from a vacant home in the middle of a mudslide. It happened in Beverly Glen after the slide knocked the home off its foundation.

After neighbors made the discovery, they wanted to see if they could save it.

“We were just so sad about that,” neighbor Travis Longcore said.

But this wasn’t just any piano. Longcore knows the former owners and said it once belonged to opera singer Miliza Korjus, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 1938 film “The Great Waltz.”

“She was quite a well-known opera singer in Los Angeles,” Longcore said.

That is why his wife spent the early part of the week researching places that may restore the piano. Little did she know that a piano store was already interested.

“We are the oldest piano store in Los Angeles County,” Helga Kasimoff said.

Kasimoff, 92, is the owner of Kasimoff Bluthner Piano Co. When her family saw a picture of the damaged piano in the Los Angeles Times, they already wanted to see what they could salvage.

“It’s part of history,” she said.

They connected with Longcore and sent movers to recover the piano. With help from Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the movers hoisted the piano out of the mud, placed it on a dolly and took it to Kasimoff’s store.

When asked why she wanted to recover the piano, she had a simple response.

“Because it’s a Bluthner,” she said. 

The Bluthner family has been making pianos in Germany since 1853.

“It’s a soulful-sounding piano,” Serge Kasimoff said. “Some people say dark sounding, deep, mysterious.”

The Kasimoffs have 14 Bluthners on their showroom floor. Now, they have a 15th since the storm-damaged Bluthner is now outside.

“Unfortunately, it’s lost one of its legs. It does have all of its keys here,” Kyril Kasimoff said.

Helga’s son, Kyril, knew the damaged piano was a Bluthner right away.

“I recognize it’s a Bluthner from the case, the legs, and the petals,” he said.

After it arrived at the store, Kyril said the serial informed them that the piano was made in 1875. Unfortunately, the water damage told them something else.

“Sadly, unless someone really wanted to put a lot into it, it’s likely not as a full use as a full piano anymore,” he said.

But the family takes some comfort knowing some parts of the piano can be restored.

“The veneer can be used and stripped off and used again,” he said. “The legs, the casters, the pedals, some of the hinge work.”

“There certainly will be some parts that can be washed and cleaned and sanded,” Helga said. “It makes me feel good.”

And it makes Longcore feel good, too. He knows some parts of history are worth hanging onto.

“That’s about all we can ask for as we work to make this right,” he said. “For the memory of people, who are embodied, their memory is embodied in things. And you don’t want such an important thing to end up in the dump.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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