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.