Lou Teicher, one-half of legendary piano duo Ferrante & Teicher, passed away yesterday at 83. His manager, Scott Smith, said that "Lou's death was unexpected -- the result of a heart attack at Lou and [wife] Betty's summer home in North Carolina." F&T were the 1,600-lb. gorillas of snoozemeistering schmaltz—non-intrusive musical wallpaper that was paradoxically ignorable yet sold billions.
However, their 1950s prepared piano pop (released on a half-dozen LPs before the duo achieved commercial success) was groundbreaking and still sounds ear-bending. During this developmental period, the Juilliard grads were renowned for experimental performance techniques and atonal modalities. Their prepared piano (a phrase coined by John Cage) involved wedging wood, metal, and debris in the piano strings to mute tones and create percussive effects. They would also reach into the piano frame during a duet and dampen strings with their fingers.
F&T performed a number of times on the old Ernie Kovacs TV show. Here's a clip of the boys performing "Oye Negra."