Happy Labor Day everyone! I thought I would share a video I made recently for the Richmond Times-Dispatch Labor Day feature. The story was on unique jobs and I was assigned to Alexander Brusilovsky, of West End Piano Restoration. Meeting Mr. Brusilovsky was a treat. I spent two hours learning about his work and I left his shop feeling so fortunate for my job and the opportunities I have to meet such interesting people. This man is a true artisan and emits a profound passion for his craft. He has been making and restoring pianos for over 30 years. Mr. Brusilovsky is from Moscow, where he learned to play the piano at age 4, got a master’s degree in instrument design and production and worked in a piano factory for 15 years. He started his career at the piano factory in an entry level position and by the time the factory shut its doors 15 years later, he was the chief engineer overseeing the last piano it ever made. Now, he is one of the few piano restorers in the region who does full piano restoration. With a full restoration, which can cost around $22,000, he guts the piano and replaces everything except the cabinet and the interior metal framework. Most importantly, Mr. Brusilovsky makes and replaces piano soundboards, the heart of the piano, and a job so delicate most restorers won’t do it out of fear of ruining the piano. According to him, the best soundboards are made out of wood taken from a spruce tree that is at least 200 years old and has grown in Alaska or Siberia. After it’s been cut, the wood must age for 50 years. So, every true instrument maker must do 2 things during the course of his career: train an apprentice to take over when he is done and collect wood for future instrument makers to use throughout their careers. How often do you meet someone with so much knowledge and experience? This assignment just made me wonder about all the other unique jobs people do day in and day out and how we get so caught up in our own daily lives we forget to ask not only what someone does for a living, but what that person loves about their job, what makes them tick, what they can’t imagine not doing the rest of their life. And, of course, I was thrilled to hear Mr. Brusilovsky play, beautiful music flooding his basement piano shop and taking me to a whole different world.
Photos by Eva Russo
All video @ Richmond Times-Dispatch
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