Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center

Posted by: Jeanne W

Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 05:30 PM

My husband, Lloyd, and I just returned from a wonderful tour of Frederick’s Historical Piano Study Center in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. Also, in attendance:

Our VIP - none other than Frank, our PianoWorld Webmaster

Bee Lady and her husband

Axtremus and his wife

Bee Lady’s piano teacher & husband

Frederick’s Study Center showcases historical pianos ranging from 1790 to 1907. We had arranged in advance for a private tour for our group. Edmund M. Frederick and his wife, Patricia, who own the collection, were our gracious and informative hosts.

Both Edmund and Patricia demonstrated the pianos by playing them. The history and mechanics of each piano is discussed. We were also treated to a number of amusing anecdotes about composers and pianists from the time period of the pianos. Patricia accompanied some of the pieces she played by singing. She has a lovely voice.

It was amazing listening to the different personalities of each of the pianos. The Fredericks’ demonstrate very well how different your listening experience can be depending on what piano the music you are hearing is being played on. Certain pieces of music sorted out wonderfully on a particular piano. Hearing the same piece of music played on a different piano can be a very different experience; the music can be much harder to make sense of. The qualities of particular pianos makes such a difference in your impression of a particular piece of music!

The tour is only part of the fun at Fredericks. After the tour concluded, we had the opportunity to play the pianos. \:D The doors in between the rooms can be closed. This enables more than one person to play at a time without things turning into a cacophony of sound. A variety of music filled the individual rooms.

Being able to actually experience the piano for oneself, to feel the action, hear the sound from the players position – what a treat! This lends an even greater appreciation of the differences in the pianos.

One of the most striking differences, besides the voices of the pianos, are the piano actions. Many of the early pianos have very light actions compared to today’s pianos. The Muzio Clementi piano has a feather weight action.

Some of the pianos “talk” to you. You hear an occasional twanging and/or odd sounds eminating as you play certain of these hoary old instruments. I found this added to their charm. Each piano speaks in its own unique voice, with its own unique charm.

Frederick’s is a nonprofit public charity. While there is no fee for a tour, the Study Center depends upon (deductible) freewill donations for maintaining its building and supporting its musical programs. A donation for the tour is appreciated.

Fredericks has concerts. Frederick’s brochure states: "The Study Center can provide a forum for lecture-recitals, master classes, seminars, panel discussions and such on matters concerning the relationship of compositional style and performance practice to the instruments for which the standard repertoire was composed.”

Everyone seemed to enjoy the tour. Lloyd and I thought it was super.

Suggested tour size is 10 people or less. Tours generally run 3 hours. There are general tour hours; private tours may also be arranged.

For more info: Contact the Fredericks at 978 827-6232 or by email piano.fred@juno.com Their website is www.Frederickcollection.org Check out the website. Just look at all of those great pianos. If you want to play them, you have to visit Fredericks.

A sincere * Thank You! * to Edmund and Patricia for the wonderful tour.

Hey, Everyone: check Frederick’s out. It’s worth the drive.

Jeanne W
Posted by: BeeLady

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 06:01 PM

I am busy uploading photos from a most enjoyable day.

Patricia didn't just sing, she sang German Lieder! Magnificent! I had chills!

And I found her very familiar....Hmm.....Like I had met her before.....

Stay tuned, my computer is about out of memory and my satelite connect a bit slow...
Posted by: Dan M

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 06:06 PM

 Quote:
It was amazing listening to the different personalities of each of the pianos. The Fredericks’ demonstrate very well how different your listening experience can be depending on what piano the music you are hearing is being played on. Certain pieces of music sorted out wonderfully on a particular piano. Hearing the same piece of music played on a different piano can be a very different experience; the music can be much harder to make sense of. The qualities of particular pianos makes such a difference in your impression of a particular piece of music!
Interesting - my guess is that different pianos wouldn't affect the literature being played so much. When I was shopping I played the same music on different pianos, but I was too busy with the pianos to notice.
Posted by: Jeanne W

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 06:13 PM

Bee Lady:

What a cordial and talented couple the Fredericks are. They both play piano magnificently and I, too, loved Patricia's singing of German Lieder.

It was a fun get together.

Looking forward to seeing the pix. Hope you got a shot of the Bosendorfer I loved. Found it to be much "beefier" in tone than Rich Gallassini's Stockton Imperial Grand in Philly.

Hey, maybe someone should invent piano trading cards. You know, instead of trading - like - baseball cards... All of us psychotic piano pooples can instead trade piano cards.

Ha ah aha aha ahahah a a

(What is wrong with me? - See what playing all of those great pianos does to your mind?)

\:D

Jeanne W
Posted by: Jeanne W

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 06:30 PM

Dan:

I'd heard these *differences* demonstrated before while piano shopping. Heard the same Chopin piece played on an August Forster, Grotrian and Steinberg. This was a piece with some big block chords in it. One of the etudes? (I'm not sure.) The chords sounded muddled on the AF, good on the Grotrian, *Best* on the light singing quality of the brightly voiced Steinberg. !!

Also had another experience recently that points this out. I had posted a little while ago on the PW "Pianist Corner" a post called "Play this - what emotions do you feel?" I asked PW members to play a chord low in the keyboard - it's in a piece of music I'd written on my brightly voiced, un-robust, spinet. People posted a variety of responses.

Sometime after posting that, during my piano search, I played those chords from my piece of music on a Steinway. Sheesh. It sounds completely different on a Steinway!

Then I played it on a Grotrian. Double sheesh! It sounds like one big note-one solid mass of sound on the Grotrian. You can't even distinquish the individual notes as you can when I play it on my spinet. On the Grotrian, it also sounds like a different pitch is being emphasized.

Sooooooooooo different. Yikes.

If I'd been sittig at a Grotrian or a Steinway when writing that music, I never would have put that chord combo into that piece of music.

I had asked people to post how they felt when they listened to that chord. Well, duh, it's going to depend - not only on the person listening - but on what kind of piano they are experiencing that combination of notes on.

Wowza. Different pianos can make a huge-a-mongus difference in how you experience the music.

Jeanne W
Posted by: BeeLady

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 06:35 PM

The piano collection is housed in the former Ashburnham, Mass library building under an agreement with the town. In exchange for rent, the Frederick's have put much time, money and effort into the building's restoration, enough to win recognition for their work from the State house.

But Patricia seems soooo familiar.....

Maybe I should type the list of pianos the we saw and heard...(there were others but they remained closed)

In order of tour
Piano Era , manufacturer and music played:

1907 Bluthner - Debussy (including a CD recorded on this very piano of all the Preludes)

1887 Broadwood

1871 Streicher - Brahms Intermezzo in A This piano is close to vintage and model owned by Brahms.

1845 Streicher
1845-46 Bosendorfer- These two pianos were played by Patricia (Schumann's Arabesqe) She went from one to the other to show the contrast in two made at the same time, look almost identical yet sound oh, so different. Yet she pointed out by example how much our least favorite turned out to be the best for vocal accomp. What a revelation...

Pleyel 1845
Erard 1839 On both pianos were performed Chopin Bm prelude....Beautiful..My teacher was particularly interested in this era...

1830 Bosendorfer (my favorite)
1828-29 Graf
Mr. Frederick played Schubert on these, including an Impromptu I learned last year...AHHH NOW I get it!!!

1805 Clementi
1800-05 Brodmann
1795 unsigned....Mozart, of course was played here.
The most interesting was the late Haydn played..It seems the composer wrote later works for the English piano like this Clementi, a much different sounding intrument than the Viennese....Mr. Frederick illustrated this in depth by jumping back and forth to play the same piece so we could hear the difference.

Pics still in the works...
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 06:36 PM

Some pictures (captions to come later, unless someone from the tour can help me now).















Posted by: BeeLady

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 07:02 PM

Glad you made it home safe, Frank! Loved that tie!! \:D

The main room containing pianos from 1839-1871


Mr. Edmund Frederick playing Brahms' Intermezzo in A Op 118 #2 on a piano of the vintage and model owned by Brahms...Oh the bass melody does come out...



Bose (center) and Graf (rear) 1828-1830


The early pianos, Mr. Frederick playing Mozart on the earliest of the pianos we saw, a 1795 unsigned Viennese style...



The best part of the tour, we were allowed to touch AND play!
What would be a NE PW event without Axtremus!!
Here playing Mozart on the 1795 pianoforte.


The whole crew, in the rear l-r, Lloyd (Jeanne W's husband), Mr. BeeLady
Jeanne W, BeeLady, BeeLady's Piano Teacher, Frank
Kneeling, Axtremus and his bride!


What a day, I learned so much...Now I realize how really limited modern pianos are...If you think a Young Chang sounds different than a Steinway, or Bose, or Charles Walter, you have not heard nothin' yet!!!!

Oh, and Patricia Frederick was the elementary music teacher at my oldest son's school in the early grades. We were so sad to see her go, she taught the kids Slave spirituals and the history behind them...But now I know she left for a good reason!!!
Posted by: Axtremus

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 07:29 PM

Thanks to Jeanne W for organizing this wonderful excursion to see the Fredericks' Collection.

And THANKS to the Fredericks for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for pianos with us (complete with demo and life performances, no less), their hospitality, and for preserving the awe-inspiring historical pianos.

I was especially impressed by Mrs. Frederick's beautiful demo/performances of German lieders in small "living room" environment and atmosphere using period pianos -- the way they are supposed to be heard!

All piano buffs are recommended to go visit the Fredericks' Collection ( www.FrederickCollection.org ). They have concert series too using those period pianos!
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 08:03 PM

Ack! How'd I miss this one? I didn't see a notice about this excursion being planned. Maybe I didn't pay attention or visit the right forum.

The Frederick Collection always did sound like a good place to visit. If anyone wants to organize another trip there, let me know.
Posted by: BeeLady

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 08:10 PM

Jeanne, see? I knew someone would ask!

Joe, to be truthful, we arranged this on our own. The Frederick's ask that only 10 people attend so we could think of that many off the top of our heads. If enough hadn't jumped, then Jeanne would have posted an announcement.

That's not to say that we couldn't do it again and again and again! Not to mention the concert series...In it's 25th year!
Posted by: Axtremus

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 08:17 PM

RealPlayer,

I can't help to notice the irony:

You, of all people, play the most ultra-modern pieces for a living, yet you own an early 1900's rebuilt, and now you want to go see a bunch of instruments even older than your Mason -- chances are that may be 70% of Fredericks' Collection won't be able to handle most of your bleeding-edge repertoire! \:D \:D

But, that said, I sure wouldn't mind going to the Fredericks' again -- why not you throw a thread up organizing the next tour to Fredericks' ? Say, sometime mid- to late-October, give you and other interested folks a month to plan. ;\)
Posted by: katie_dup1

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 09:58 PM

Thanks for sharing these wonderful posts & great pictures. It looks like all of you had fun. The http://www.Frederickcollection.org website is very informative.
Posted by: RKVS1

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/12/04 11:01 PM

I ran across this musuem's website a couple of years ago ( quite by accident ... see below ) and had considered squeezing it in as part of my itinerary during the MH factory tour but wasn't able to do so. I'm glad you guys got to see it though. It sounds like that "New England chapter" is really on a roll, activity-wise.

Bob
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Here's another page at the Fredricks site that would probably change my tune. I think its a 1847 Boesen-dorfable \:\) ( I'm almost POSITIVE it's NOT Charles Walters. :rolleyes: )
http://www.fredericks.com/product.asp?ca...duct%5Fid=90041
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Now-Now ... there's really no reason to be upset. You knew[/b] what it was before you clicked it. \:D
Posted by: Jeffo

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/13/04 05:17 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:
RealPlayer,

why not you throw a thread up organizing the next tour to Fredericks' ? Say, sometime mid- to late-October, give you and other interested folks a month to plan. ;\) [/b]
My wife and I would go to Fredricks. Been trying to get there but never seem to make it happen, even with family out in that area. Would love to see/hear these old piano's especailly since we are supposed to recieve our Grand back this week.
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/13/04 07:32 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:
RealPlayer,

I can't help to notice the irony:

You, of all people, play the most ultra-modern pieces for a living, yet you own an early 1900's rebuilt, and now you want to go see a bunch of instruments even older than your Mason -- chances are that may be 70% of Fredericks' Collection won't be able to handle most of your bleeding-edge repertoire! \:D \:D

But, that said, I sure wouldn't mind going to the Fredericks' again -- why not you throw a thread up organizing the next tour to Fredericks' ? Say, sometime mid- to late-October, give you and other interested folks a month to plan. ;\) [/b]
Well, I would[/b] have to brush up on my Clementi... ;\) and I'd assume they have an x-ray scanner at the door to detect any piano preparations I might smuggle in... \:D

I wouldn't attempt any modern repertoire. I'm just curious about the sound and feel of these historic pianos. A museum of sound!

I'll think about a good time to go and then post here. I have a small concert in New Hampshire on November 13 -- so maybe around then. Or late October...
Posted by: Terrytunes

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/15/04 09:24 PM

Thanks for posting the reviews on the Frederick's tour. I missed out as I had some grandmother bonding to attend to in CO!! (Ax, saw your msg in another post; thanks!)

Joe, I know the Frederick's recommend coming before the weather gets to cold as they have advised there is limited heating in the museum during the winter season. Since you will be up this way on 11/13, would you like me to call and find out if we could set up a tour for the 14th????

The heat issue doesn't really matter to me. Let me know and I will call and find out what dates are available for a tour.

Jeffo, does that date work for you??

Bob (RKVS1) How about you?????!!!

I'll start another thread tomorrow if I see any replies to this msg or receive any PM's.

Frank, I'm with Beelady.... Great tie!!
Posted by: Jeffo

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/16/04 06:43 AM

The 14th of November sometime in the afternoon looks like it would work for my wife and I.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Tour of Fredericks Historic Piano Study Center - 09/16/04 06:53 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Terrytunes:


Frank, I'm with Beelady.... Great tie!! [/b]
Thanks, bought it in the Piano World Store :-)