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Vital Signs

A new sounding board for students

A handsome 1928 Mason & Hamlin piano, owned for over 60 years by a late member of the DMS faculty, has a new home—in the Zimmerman Student Lounge at DHMC.

The piano had belonged since the 1930s to Radford Tanzer, M.D., who joined the DMS faculty in 1939 and was the founding chief of the Section of Plastic Surgery. When he bought the instrument, he was a resident at Doctors' Hospital in New York and was taking private lessons from a teacher at the Manhattan School of Music. He needed a piano to practice on, and Henry Steinway, the great-grandson of the founder of Steinway & Sons and a patient of Tanzer's at the time, helped him select this particular instrument.

Second-year medical student Stephanie Ajudua, who's taken piano lessons for 10 years, enjoys the new upright in the student lounge.
Photo: Flying Squirrel Graphics

The piano was given to DMS by Tanzer's widow, Sheila Tanzer, after her husband's death in June 2003. Internationally known for developing the standard technique for total ear reconstruction, Rad Tanzer was also a gifted pianist; he enjoyed playing Beethoven, Mozart, and Liszt.

Ted Yuo, DMS '04, a friend of the Tanzers, was the one who suggested to Sheila Tanzer that she give the piano to the Medical School. Yuo, who plays the piano himself—both classical and pop—admits that "my talents are very limited and not suitable for much more than a personal tickling of the ivories. That said," he adds, "I very much enjoy listening to others play." So he hopes that the piano will be used not only for casual playing by students on their breaks from clinical rotations, but also for special events such as holiday parties and mini-concerts.

To Sheila Tanzer, the student lounge seemed an eminently appropriate place for the piano because her husband loved teaching. In fact, displayed above the piano is a 1961 photograph of Tanzer with several residents at his shoulder as he attends to a patient in his Hitchcock Clinic office. M.C.W.

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