His interest in music began not with the piano, but with the viola and violin. He studied at academies in Cologne and Detmold and, in his 20s, played guitar and mandolin in German dance bands.
He was playing Dixieland music one night when he saw a woman on the dance floor. “I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her and told my friends, ‘This is the girl I’m going to marry,'” he recalled in his memoir. Her name was Elizabeth Zilikens, and they married in 1954. In addition to their son Michael, she is survived by him, as does a daughter, Ellen; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Another son, Peter, died in 2019.
Tendinitis forced Mr. Mohr to quit performing at the age of 20, his son said, and he turned to the piano, responding to a wanted advertisement from piano maker Ibach, leading to an apprenticeship. Another advertisement sent him to the United States in 1962.
It said Steinway was looking for piano technicians in New York. A devout churchgoer, she had formed a relationship with a German-speaking Baptist church in Elmhurst, Queens, which showed her advertisements. He contacted Steinway and was soon hired as an assistant to the company’s chief concert technician, William Hoofer.
Before long, he was tuning in to stars like famed eccentric Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who had come to New York to make a recording. (Tronto Gold relied on another tuner, Verne Edquist, who died in 2020.)
Not only did Mr. Mohr work on piano in the recording studio, but he also traveled around New York with Gould. “He loved Lincoln Town cars,” wrote Mr. Mohr in his memoir. “He’ll drive just that. He once told me: ‘Franz, I found out next year’s model would be two inches shorter. So, you know what I did? I bought two Town Cars this year.