Happy 89th birthday to Ted Sambell

05 Jan

Ted Sambell is the most prominent member of our London, Ontario, Canada Sambell family. His father was Francis John Charles Sambell (1899-1983) and his grandfather was Francis Poole Sambell (1873-1957) who immigrated to Canada in 1914.

Ted was born in London, England in 1923, the second child in a family of 10. Because of poor eyesight, he got special schooling, and at age 14, a scholarship to the Northern Polytechnical Institute to train as a Piano Technician. It was believed that if you had poor eyesight, you had very good hearing. In Ted’s case, it was true and the rest is history.

At age 18, in 1941, Ted volunteered for the Civil Defense, and his job was digging out bombing victims and clearing rubble. He did this throughout the war. Finally, in 1949, his family had the resources together to emigrate to Canada. Ted worked for Heintzmans in London, Ontario, and also for the University of Western Ontario, and the Stratford Frestival. In 1977, he set up the course at George Brown College in Toronto. In 1990, he moved to the Banff Centre. In each of these institutions, he set up a shop, taught, mentored, innovated, and led the way in piano technology.

Among his challenges was tuning for Glenn Gould. Glenn liked a keyboard adjusted for a very shallow touch, and it required the keyboard to be right on to avoid off-pitch tones. Adjusting for Bach music also necessitated a different adjustment than for later music. Ted was called to Detroit and New York to do last minute tuning for Glenn Gould. He was offered the job as Glenn’s Toronto technician. In 2007, Ted was the first Canadian to be inducted into the Piano Technicians Guild Hall of Fame, in Kansas City at the 50th Anniversary Convention. If you search for “Ted Sambell”, you will find lots more.

2012 – Ted currently lives in London, Ontario, close to his daughter Jessica Braun and her family. He is still teaching and tuning, and leading an active life.

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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Site Updates


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