November 2003, Meeting
Date: Saturday, November 15
Time: 1:00 PM
Featured Guests: Piano Museum Curator
Subject: Frederick Historic Piano Collection (located at the historic piano education center)
The Frederick Collection of Period Grand Pianos includes sixteen or more original pianos in playing condition; specifically, the
sorts of pianos known to important composers from about 1790 to 1907. At present, there is no comparable collection of period, playing grand pianos
in the United States. Most museum collections that include pianos focus on their decorative appearance rather than their musical value. The following
points clarify the purpose of the Collection.
Until around World War I, piano design was constantly changing. Piano design changes reflect not only shifts in musical taste, but
also ideals of technical perfection rooted as much in the Industrial Revolution as in music.
Every composer wrote for the pianos he knew, capitalizing on particular musical effects available from those instruments. The same
music played on a significantly different instrument will have a different sound, and not necessarily one the composer would have preferred.
To hear and/or play the piano literature on an instrument such as it was conceived for, is to discover important features of the
music. Effects unavailable on the standard modern piano (bass/treble balance, clarity of bass tone, tone-color changes over the dynamic range) become
evident, enriching one's appreciation and enjoyment of the music.
To do the tour right they suggest planning three hours. In the winter they keep the temperature down (50) and the humidity up to
keep the pianos in better tune, so you should dress very warmly. Since this museum is a labor of love done on a shoestring, they would appreciate a
small donation to help with their operating expenses -- something on the order of $5-10 per person. This visit would be a special treat for someone
who loves classical pianos and piano music. www.ashburnham.org/Frederickcollection