During the 106 years of Cooper Music there hav
e been thousands of customers from John Phillip Sousa to Elton John. Blake and I agreed the most interesting story is about a customer we did not sell.
During one of the Great Depression years Blake’s Grandfather, John E Cooper, was approached by a respected local music director, Frank Oliver, about an accordion student, a gifted teenager named Johnny Costa. Frank Oliver said young Costa should be taking piano lessons but in those years there wasn’t the family money for a teacher or a piano.
John Cooper took the remarks from Oliver seriously enough to arrange an
audition with Martin Meisler, a master piano teacher in the area. Meisler too was impressed and a scholarship was arranged for piano lessons for young Costa.
Cooper knew without a piano, the lessons were on hold for this great young performer. So a decision was made to forego a sale and give a piano to Johnny Costa.
Costa’s career speaks well for the people who recognized his talent. Johnny was a unique lifetime professional performer, recording artist, and music director.
To choose his leading success would be difficult. Most outstanding, obviously was his superb style. Art Tatum once remarked upon entering a Pittsburgh piano lounge, “Oh! They’re playing my record.” No. It was Johnny Costa, live!
He graduated from Carnegie Tech and after touring and appearances at venues such as the Embers Lounge in New York. Johnny is remembered for a hometown appearance with Dave Brubeck at a Cooper Music sponsored Allegheny Valley Concert Series Event.
After touring, Johnny went to work as Music Director of KDKA TV in Pittsburgh. This led to his anchor assignment for decades on the Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood show on PBS TV. This award winning show remains as an example of superior entertainment and TV musical excellence.
Readers are invited to a YouTube video of Johnny Costa during the Mr. Rodgers era.
The thousands of customers who bought a piano for sale from Cooper Music are wonderful, but it’s with genuine pride when we think of the sale we did not make to Johnny Costa.
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