Pianowandeljahre Notes
Roy Lisker
July, 1984

(Note: The year from June, 1984 to June 1985 was devoted to a project dubbed the 'Pianowandeljahre' During this year, wherever I happened to be , I always managed to find some place, whether school, community center, church, friend's apartment,etc., where there was a piano on which I was permitted to practice for at least an hour.
This project was successful: pianos were made available to me in : Boston, Cambridge, Littleton, Martha's Vineyards, Boston and Ashburnham in Massachusetts; Waterbury, Hartford, Middletown, Connecticut; New York City, New Paltz, New York; Asbury Park, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, etc.
At the end of the year I prepared a recital, the program of which contained all of the pieces I'd learned and memorized over that time.
The Pianowandeljahre officially began on June 1, 1984, with a memorable visit to the Frederick Piano Collection in Ashburnham) :

The commuter rail train from Boston's North Station takes about an hour to reach Fitchburg. On the station platform I was met by a stocky individual with a straggly auburn beard , Edmund Michael Frederick. He drove me another few miles to the hamlet of Ashburnham, where he maintains a piano museum. (Note: since the time this article was written, the piano collection has moved into a much larger building that used to be the town library. For more information, go to Piano Museum

In a house dating from the turn of the 19th century, and its adjoining carriage house, he and his wife, Pat, have stored about 30 pianos. The earliest of them dates from the latter part of the 18th century, the most recent is from the end of the 19th: A Katholnig ; several Streichers, a Graf, a few Pleyels, some early Bosendorfers, an Erard, a Bluthner, and an early Steinway.

Each instrument is typical of its time and place. Scores are placed beside each instrument. Mike plays them for visitors, allowing them to appreciate the way the music must have sounded on the instruments of the period in which it was composed.

For over 3 hours, in the intervals between his running historical commentary, he played Debussy on the Erard; Chopin on a Pleyel; Schumann on the Graf; Beethoven on the Katholnig; Haydn on an early English fortepiano, manufactured by Clementi ; Schubert on a Bosendorfer; Clementi on another Clementi ; Brahms on a Streicher and on the Bluthner; and Rachmaninoff on the Steinway.

He could have gone on with his lecture/recital for another two hours. Anyone is welcome to visit his museum, which is free of charge.Phone number: 1-978- 827- 6232 MIke or Pat will tell you how to get there.