Giovanni Skilan

Certified piano repair technician - Giovanni Skilan

Giovanni was born in Trieste, Italy in 1934. His ancestors originally came from Czechoslovakia and settled in Trieste in the 1890's. His great-grandfather was a musician and inventor, with interests in early photography, but especially in musical instruments. His experiments even included the construction of an early design style piano.

Giovanni's mentor and teacher was his uncle Ernesto. At an early age, Ernesto paid for Giovanni's piano lessons, and kept him close to the art of piano building. Ernesto worked for the Anton Pecar Piano Company building upright pianos, until World War II where he was drafted and sent to Africa where he was promptly captured by the British.

In the prison camps, he was able to tune and maintain the pianos that happened to be in the officer's clubs. This afforded him a bit more comfort during his captivity, and a place to keep his skills as a piano technician fresh. Upon the end of the war, and his release, Ernesto emigrated to Argentina, but first, convinced Giovanni to seek employment at the Pecar Piano Company.

Throughout the 1950's, Giovanni worked at the company building upright pianos, replacing soundboards, and general restoration work involved with all sorts of instruments. In his spare time, he played in a band at night clubs and ballrooms, and even had one of their performances broadcast on Italian TV.

Giovanni Skilan restringing a grand piano

In 1960, Giovanni married his wife Vittorina. They are still together after 50 years! In 1961, he emigrated to the United States and settled in Kansas City, Missouri where he promptly found work with Jenkins Music Co.

His skills were unknown to the company at first, but they soon found out Giovanni was capable of high-end piano restoration work. His duties included restringing, pinblock installation and soundboard work. After a couple of typical mid-west winters, Giovanni moved the family to Los Angeles. He found work with Manning Piano Company, well known at the time for selling new and used pianos, and eventually became manager of the piano repair department.

In 1968, Music City Company acquired Mannings, and Giovanni remained head of the Piano Repair department until 1974. That is when he started his own piano restoration business together with his new-found friend, Lafayette Nunley. Giovanni and Lafayette worked together rebuilding and refinishing pianos for over 16 years until Lafayette retired in 1990.

At that time, Franco had just begun establishing Precision Piano Services, so it was the perfect opportunity for a new father and son union to be formed. Giovanni and Franco have been working together restoring fine pianos ever since.

Read about Franco Skilan

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