Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Frank Music, Vol. 2

I was deliciously tempted to go down to Frank and pick up some more musty music to add to my piano room piles. But it was a busy day, and there was only ONE thing I even sort of needed ... so I decided to risk a call to see if they had it. I took a deep, calming breath and dialed.

"Hello, Frank Music," Heidi said.
"Hi, I need... I would like ... to find the transcription of Beethoven 4 ... Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto for String Quintet."

I stammeringly strode right into the request, skipping small talk, not wasting her time. I decided not to identify myself; after my last posting on Frank I didn't know how it would play out.

"For what?"
"An arrangement of Beethoven's 4th Concerto for Piano and String Quintet."
"Wow." [Strange pause] "Do you know who publishes it?" she asked...

Generally, I like to think that Heidi is on top of this information, being the one who contacts the publishers, etc.

"No [sigh] I don't" ... a shade sheepish.
"I've never heard of it."
"Well, it exists. It's a newish discovery." [A gambit on my part: the irrefutable fact.]
"Well I don't know of it."
"I thought you knew everything." [Gambit #2: flattery.]
"Well people think that but they're wrong."
"Should I find out who publishes it?" I said, incredulously.

This was really a mistake. Somehow I thought Heidi would fall for the irony, would see the absurdity of my trying to horn in on her area of expertise, and she would immediately try to find out herself where this arrangement existed, and how I could get hold of it. I was so very, very wrong. A long pause occurred. Did she say something under her breath?

"Obviously you know about this, and you need to educate me."
I was stunned and didn't know how to respond: "Hardly..."
"No really, I need to be educated." [nanosecond pause] "And I have to go." [click]

And thus the conversation ended. Needless to say, I was simply too afraid to go down to Frank, and the Krenek etudes or Gottschalk compilations I might have bought on a whim are sitting in their buckets, waiting for the next time. Speaking of next time, I probably won't call ahead. I'll just go down to the store, perhaps in disguise? That which does not kill us only makes us stronger?

27 comments:

Pattyoboe said...

Yikes. What is it about music stores? I've encountered similar things in the past. (Which is why I just go online to order things now.)

But I want to read Vol. 1 of your Frank Music posts! :-)

Anonymous said...

I would google around before calling/going. How can you expect a shop girl to know that much?!!!

Anonymous said...

Too funny... Perhaps she does read this blog.

hari said...

you've just got to go down there and educate her. i remember when i used to try to buy music i heard in clubs and the stores didn't know what i was talking about and then months later they were hits.

lynne said...

I've never heard of that particular arrangement of the Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto - it would be interesting to get hold of the score or the recording!

your partial namesake said...

nu? am i meant to believe from reading this that it takes less energy to post a blog than it does to return a phone call?

sogalitno said...

best of luck with Frank Music. i empathize and sympathize with your quandry in dealing with them. (notice how diplomatic i am being)

it is amazing tho that your request was unknown of.

R J Keefe said...

An LP that I miss (I may still have it, in storage somewhere) is an Archiv recording of Beethoven's Second as a piano trio. It's very successful, at least to my ears.

Anonymous said...

Poor Heidi - hard to fluster her, but since you were so successful, I do suggest you go in disguise next time. Her memory is frighteningly good and she can be scathing.
Here's a link, at least to a recording it seems...
http://froogle.google.com/froogle_url?q=http://www.shop.com/op/~Beethoven:_Klavierkonzerte_Nrn_3_und_4-prod-29659255-38853729%3Fsourceid%3D298&fr=AK2cjrlMqWpsgGCTzvdehXKtMHKw4LYu_AAAAAAAAAAA&gl=us&hl=en

Anonymous said...

And that's another reason why sheet music stores are going the way of the dodo. Why is it so hard to learn that when you bite off your customers' heads, they will no longer want to do business with you?

Anonymous said...

hi Jeremy,

Did you already find out about the publisher of the arrangement?
Actually I thought I could help you because I was a member of the recording staff for the CD two posts above (in 2001).
I asked a bright lady in our score archive today. And she really tried to find out where the score then did come from, but she ended with a frustrated "It must have been a manuscript somebody of the guys brought along". Je suis desolée.
Good luck the the recherche and - of course - Heidi.
(the name sounds so naïve in German... but what a tiger!)

Anonymous said...

Ah Frank's Music.

I always feel as though I need to gird my loins before entering that particular fray. The queer thing is that I want to give them money, but even this she makes difficult. "I'd really prefer you pay in cash," she says. I'm surprised exact change isn't required. Do you ever get the feeling that they don't actually want to sell music?

Somehow I've managed to get on her good side in the last few years, and the real reward is a chance to brouse the bins on a visit; there are always delightful surprises to be found. Nevertheless, the memories of past "complicated" visits, particularly from my student days at Juilliard, still make me think twice before making a live appearance.

The puzzle of that store is that it manages to stay open.

Lately, I've taken to calling ahead. The current reply always seems to be, "Oh, I'm afraid I don't have that in stock." Why do I sense pleasure from the other end of the phone when making that announcement?

Anonymous said...

Hey, how can you expect someone to know everything. If you were at a loss for the name of the publisher, well, then I guess that is your loss. Yesterday, I called to Frank's Music with a list of obscure pieces. The woman explained to me that she was very busy, and told me to just come in. So I did. When you deal stores that sell sheet music, there is always the chance that they won't have some of what you're looking for. I went in and she had everything. That woman is well informed. She is one of those New York characters that people write about. She has this great New York speaking voice, and attitude. And she is not snooty, she is actually nice.
This store puts patelson's to shame. Just from meeting her, I can tell that if she knew about this post, she wouldn't be angry, she would be alittle hurt. Just go in meet her. You'll see.

Anonymous said...

Actually, contrary to the views of the above commenter, Heidi is indeed steaming mad about the whole affair. A friend of mine was in the store yesterday and said Heidi was going on a rant about how people who complain about her on blogs should try running a business themselves. Then she said "I'm talking about Jeremy Denk. Do you know him?" I'm not kidding - if I were Jeremy I would show up next time with a bouquet of roses in one hand and exact change in the other (although supposedly she now actually takes Visa). Or it might be time to get reacquainted with Patelsons...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps somewhat anonymous references in the future ("X" music store or "Y" owner) would prevent this unfortunate scenario from repeating itself... :)

Anonymous said...

I know you have already posted a follow-up post to this, but Heidi is really one of the most helpful people in the buisness. She is the reason I don't do all of my music shopping online. To have someone to talk to about music and which editions to get rather than clicking on a button that says "buy". Stores like Frank need our help to stay open...or else we will have to go to petelson's ....shudder. Also I hear she has great fresh eggs from her farm.

Anonymous said...

And for those of us who live outside New York:

www.frankmusiccompany.com

David London, England said...

It comes to something when a clever-dick know-it-all has to publicly humiliate someone who has tirelessly served the musicians of NYC - and the world ! - for so many years and with such good humour and grace.
She should be treasured and not mercilessly lampooned

Jeremy Denk said...

Clever-Dick Know-It-All? This is a bit much, David from London, England.

I do treasure Frank Music, with all its unusual style... which is PRECISELY why I have chosen to write about it here. Please read the follow-up post; I was not intending a savage critique but an amusing anecdote, and, to the extent that my writing may have left its tone up for debate, this "controversy" is my fault. Her willingness to persevere in the thankless business is extraordinary. Her customer service is, thankfully, unusual ... to be treasured indeed, and I think it is possible to find it somewhat funny without getting the idea that I am "humiliating" her; to the extent I am poking fun, it is with a smile and affection. I often poke fun at myself in the same manner on this very blog; and I think I have a reasonable amount of affection for myself, haha. So there, Mr. Anonymous Name-Calling-Comment-Poster!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at some of these comments. The tone of your original post was obviously tongue-in-cheek and your fondness for Frank Music was apparent to anyone with even a slight ability to read between the lines. In any case, you've certainly set things right with charm and grace for even your most literal-minded readers in your last post. Now get back to practicing and stop worrying about this tempest in a teapot (perhaps in the future articles should be color-coded for light sarcasm and irony :-) )

Anonymous said...

hello. i actually possess this version of the beethoven op 58. it is not published, but i can tell you how to obtain.

best regards

Anonymous said...

Although your post was clearly meant to be taken with a grain of salt, I must say I wouldn't have been as nice and diplomatic as you.
The only good music store in NYC was Carl Fischer. They knew everything, they were real musicians (maybe that was the real difference), they were passionate about it, you could browse, it was a musician's dream, I loved them.
Went to Frank's and Paterlson's a few times during my Juilliard years (I remember your awesome recitals, we had the same lousy piano teacher), and will never do it again. Never.
Unlike the other poster who suggests you bring her roses, I think she should bring you roses for still doing business there, because God knows many of us won't.

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