Joseph Cossolini was born in Hoboken, NJ in the shadow of Manhattan. He attended high school at Hudson Regional Catholic High School in Jersey City. Joe once commented that he was so close to New York in those days that “if the wind blew right you could smell what Balducci’s had on their shelves and hear the musicians playing in The Village”. Joe loved all kinds of music. He went on to study music composition at Ramapo College and there, fell in love with the instrument that would most shape his life, the piano.
Joe loved music and for fun played bluegrass with a local band, he was a wonderful photographer, he enjoyed being in the outdoors – running or sailing, but his passion was his career. Joe was an expert piano rebuilder. Joe first entrance into the field of piano technology was as an apprentice with John Ford, Sr. at Ford Piano Supply. John Ford. Jr. remembered Joe well and commented, “Joe Cossolini was very talented from the beginning. He was sincere as hell and serious about piano work. If he had something to say, he would say it, but he never wasted a word. We all knew Joe would stay in this field.”
Joe moved to Colorado specifically to work with Art Reblitz. Art is the author of several piano technology books that have become required reading for anyone in the piano profession. We got in touch with Art for his perspective, “Joe appeared at our front door in Colorado Springs in August 1978. With a copy of my piano servicing book in hand, he told me he had worked for John Ford, moved to Colorado, and wondered if I needed an employee. Piano and player work were in great demand at the time and we had a long backlog of work, so I hired him on the spot. I trained him to do pneumatic restoration, and he rebuilt many pianos and player actions for us until he moved back East in February 1984. He learned quickly, was always productive, and had a great sense of humor. He was a fine asset to our business and a great friend.”
Joe came back to the Philadelphia area with honed skills and a zeal for his profession. He worked on his own and in collaboration with Fred Taylor and others, but found a home here at Cunningham Piano Company. His positive outlook, passion for quality, and leadership through example still affect us every day.
Recently, we hosted a teacher’s recital and one of the students performed a piece written by Joe. As soon as we heard the first few bars we recognized his music.
By coincidence, this piece, called “Sinking”, had been played by Joe on international television as an introduction to the episode of “How It’s Made” that featured Cunningham Piano Company and our rebuilding.
It was an emotional moment for us as we all recalled our colleague and friend. Joseph Cossolini, we miss you, but you are still a part of Cunningham Piano Company.