New Yorker Karl Salzer says Park City is a natural fit |

New Yorker Karl Salzer says Park City is a natural fit

He played piano as a boy, studied music in college

By Steve Phillips
Record contributing writer
Karl Salzer and his wife, Gabriele, moved to Park City in 2013 after living in New York all their lives. He says the town felt more welcoming than most destination ski resorts.
Tanzi Propst/ Park Record
VITAL STATISTICS: Favorite activities: skiing, golfing, hiking and shooting sports Favorite foods: pasta dishes, fruit pies Favorite reading/authors: John Grisham, Lee Child, Clive Cussler Favorite music/performers: Nora Jones, Alison Krause, Jackson Browne, Dixie Chicks Bucket list: to become a mountain host and help guests enjoy their skiing vacation

Karl Salzer has kept his day job for the last 27 years. Like jobs for many of us, it’s been a means to an end, a backup plan while he’s pursued his true craft and passion, piano tuning and repair.

Salzer is a mail handler with the Post Office. He is up to his eyeballs this week with Christmas mail and too busy to even tune his guitar. Since moving here in 2013 with his wife, Gabriele, he’s stayed with the Post Office while nurturing his nascent piano tuning and repair business in the Park City area.

Pianos, playing and listening to music resonate at Salzer’s core. “Music is pure aural emotion, you just feel better when you play or listen to it,” he said. “It’s an emotional release that can save you when you start to flounder with the experiences of life.”

Salzer remembers camping trips with his family and Fourth of July trips to the lake shore at Alex Bay to watch fireworks from when he was growing up in northern New York state. His early memories also include music, which captured him at an early age; he was playing piano by age 10. Later, at Franklin Academy High School in Malone, he was a percussionist in both the concert and stage bands and a National Honor Society scholar.

Salzer attended nearby Siena College and the College of St. Rose, where he took music performance classes as a percussionist and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history. His boyhood affair with the piano spurred him on to attend a two-year graduate program at the prestigious New England School of Stringed Keyboard Instrument Technology, a department of the North Bennett Industrial School in Boston, where he earned a certificate in “piano technology.”

He soon moved to the capital district of New York, near Albany, where he became a craftsman member of the venerable Piano Technicians Guild, recognizing the highest level of competency for a piano technician.

After a short stint as a piano technician in Boston, he returned to New York and went to work tuning floor models for a local piano dealer. He supplemented his meager income by starting a private tuning business and doing custom renovations of apartments in the historic Stockade area of Schenectady. His piano clients included clubs, restaurants, schools and colleges.

In 1985 Salzer met Gabriele at a health club in Niskayuna, New York. “Her father introduced us, a decision I think he may have regretted at first, but I grew on him,” Salzer said with a grin. “She was very interesting and very attractive,” he recalls.

“Both of us were self-employed,” he added. “So while we were engaged, we decided one of us should get a ‘real’ job. I took some tests and ended up going to work for the Post Office in 1989.”

Salzer and Gabriele were married in the fall of 1988.

The couple settled near Clifton Park, where they enjoyed many years together working and playing.

“We joined a group called the Out-of-control Ski Club, basically a drinking club with a skiing problem,” he said with a chuckle.

Over the years they skied at resorts across the country, including Aspen, Steamboat, Sun Valley and Park City.

By the late 2000s, they were ready for a change of scenery.

“We had been thinking about moving out west for a few years and came out a few times to re-visit some of the places we’d skied,” Salzer said. “When we came here, it felt so much more comfortable, more attractive visually and just more sensible to us.”

They made the move here in 2013, when Salzer transferred to a post office job in Salt Lake City. Within months, they bought a lot in Jeremy Ranch and built their dream home. “We love it here, it’s beautiful. It’s like living in vacationland,” he said, adding, “We have great neighbors.”

Beyond music, Salzer’s other passion is the environment. He laments our failed efforts thus far as stewards of the planet. “We are merely trustees here and bad ones at that! Maybe at one time it was because we didn’t know any better, but that has morphed into greed, laziness and complacency. The window of opportunity to save our planet is closing. Sticking your head in the sand or pulling the covers over your head doesn’t work anymore,” he asserts.

Salzer remains upbeat about his fledgling Park City piano tuning and repair business. Though part-time for now, he plans to expand after he retires from the Post Office. So if your piano is flat as a pancake you can contact Salzer online at

Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at

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