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Fascinating piano--Johann Fritz & Sohn #72312
01/11/07 02:45 AM
01/11/07 02:45 AM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,646
Berkeley, California
S
shirlkirsten Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
shirlkirsten  Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
S

Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,646
Berkeley, California
About 6 months ago I literally met up with a very unusual piano that was delivered to a thrift store of the American Cancer Society. It turned out to be a very small grand with a Viennese action that had on its fall board, "J. Fritz & Sohn." (It so happens that Johann Fritz was a celebrated Fortepiano builder,, which got me to thinking.....)
The appearance alone of this piano was for me, at least, quite astounding. It had candle holders that retracted, an ornate, filigreed rack--and very aethetic pleasing engraved areas. It had a squared off side, but obviouly it was NOT a square grand. It almost had the casing of an ornate harpshichord-I was definitely into researching the instrument to try to piece together its place in history as a horizontal bar bounced conspicuously up and down when I depressed the damper pedal, and this animated bar was within full view of anyone performing on this treasure, as well as listeners.
Obviously the appearance alone would not have satisfied me as a musician.. but when I sat down to play this piano that dated to about 1876, it HAD ONE GORGEOUS VOICE--and belying its petite size, it had a huge resounding BASS-so much so that I thought immediately of the Steinway characteristic sound in this range, and I could imagine hearing one of the great composers of the past, even Chopin, though 1876 was a bit late for him, playing this instrument, that would give us a glimpse of what the piano in concert might have sounded like back then. I played this instrument for almost three hours every day at the thrift store and it held up--though before I had even dared to play it, it had sadly fallen down one whole tone below concert A 440. In this regard, my tuner/tech friend said he thought it would be unwise to try to bring the pitch up even a fraction, without risking snapping the ORIGINAL strings. This fragile and musically sensitive instrument did ultimately find a home, and actually two prospective buyers were in competition to get it for its antique value alone.. I was so enamored of this piano because of what I thought was its historical value as well as it full range sonority, that I contacted some experts in the Bay area and sent pictures of the piano, its action, assembly, and shots of the conspicuous bobbing bar that made a rhythmic racket. This percussive accompaniment to my playing made me think or imagine, perhaps, that I was playing a Forte piano of Johann Fritz, though the sound was way too enormous and the feel was quite resistant to the touch, as well--And it did not show any evidence that it was a Fortepiano . Sadly, this instrument and those of its kind are not considered worth putting into the Smithsonian, and I have heard the experts in the field say that "so what," there are lots of these out there. But I will not forget playing the Chopin Etude no.12 in c minor on this so-called "babiest" of grands and how the floor shook in and the sounds resonated off the plaster walls--it definitely had personality and sparkle to invite the attention of innocent and more sophisticated ears. I might also mention that it had a pink colored stick that held the lid up that did not match the wood, and apparently this was exactly how it was meant to be. The whole issue of restoration somehow is suggested here--but from what I was told by some of the technicians who sometimes rebuild these, that altering the materials, the hammers, even the way the dampers work somehow changes a piano like this--so that it is really not the same anymore. This whole subject invites lots of discussion as there are builders and rebuilders who devote their lives to working with these rare instruments. I discovered, as well that the piano came from an auction house in Oakland, I think, then found its way to an antique store in Fresno. Finally, someone bought it, kept it for a short while and then donated it to the thrift store. I hope this beauty is alive and well.. and will offer more to its new owner than lots of conversation about it.


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NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
NYU, M.A., Steinway M grand and Baldwin165, Yamaha 255
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Re: Fascinating piano--Johann Fritz & Sohn #72313
01/11/07 04:28 PM
01/11/07 04:28 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 124
Placerville, California
M
Moe Howard Offline
Full Member
Moe Howard  Offline
Full Member
M

Joined: May 2006
Posts: 124
Placerville, California
Music32,

Just curious - what did the thrift store want for it?, and what did it eventually go for?


- Moe

Mason & Hamlin Model A #91743
----------------------------------
Re: Fascinating piano--Johann Fritz & Sohn #72314
01/11/07 08:23 PM
01/11/07 08:23 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,646
Berkeley, California
S
shirlkirsten Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
shirlkirsten  Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
S

Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,646
Berkeley, California
The person who donated the piano to the thrift store said that it cost her $5000. She had purchased it from a local antique establishment here in Fresno. The Cancer Society which got it, put it up for $5,000--then lowered the price to $3,0000, and ultimately got $2000 for it.
Shirley www.fasttraxx.com/shirleykirsten
Steinway, M grand (1917 rebuilt in NYC and CA)
PIANO FINDER--Independent--used pianos


Piano blog: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
http://www.arioso7.wordpress.com

You Tube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7



NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
NYU, M.A., Steinway M grand and Baldwin165, Yamaha 255
MTAC Alameda
Re: Fascinating piano--Johann Fritz & Sohn #72315
07/20/07 05:39 PM
07/20/07 05:39 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 88
berber Offline
Full Member
berber  Offline
Full Member

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 88
music32,

I have an old J Fritz and I loved your text. Mine is very old, of course, but I could not find any information about it. I tried everywhere! I sent some pictures to a piano rebuilder in Australia, and he told me that it was built around 1840 - 1860. It is a grand piano, very ornated.
One piano store was going to TRASH it!!!!! I begged them not to and in the end they said - You want it? Get it out of here! So I got it for free (well, almost, after all I had to pay $20 for the U-Haul and two pizzas for the delivery guys).

In any case, I loved your post and if you , or anybody knows anything about J Fritz, please let me know.


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