Lord, What Have I Done?

Oh my. While I have been peacefully practicing, rehearsing, and tubing in the mountains of North Carolina, I have been blissfully unaware of the tempest brewing in my comments section, and, to judge from the last comment, a tempest brewing at Frank Music. I should have put a kibosh on this much earlier.

The intent of my last post was humor, not critique! I adore Frank Music. It is the only place that really has the music you need, and I would never want to go to any other place for my music if I could help it. I am a frequent customer. I walk in and want to buy everything, and often leave with much more than I needed. I always semi-pretend to be vexed by her, when I go in, and she usually plays along. There are always works by Ives and Kirchner in the bins, two of my favorite composers. Only there was I able to find, just laying around, some beautiful little Romantic miniatures by Ignaz Friedman, one of my favorite pianists. One must confess that Heidi’s phone manner is unorthodox; it would never be taught at Customer Service Workshops; but, if I think about it closely, I would much rather have her New York City, idiosyncratic, manner than the saccharine non-helpful helpfulness of most companies when they deign to take your call. I must say, I often find myself frightened by her–a situation which can only grow worse now–and the point of the post was much more about my own timidity and state of mind than Heidi’s behavior; I thought the phone call, in sum, was very funny, especially my total failure with all my stratagems. I didn’t post it to be mean!

Finally: the ultimate mea culpa. It appears that piece is not really published. I could have checked with the people I know who have performed it, before wasting Heidi’s time. So there, Heidi was right: it does not exist, in the sense that would be meaningful to our transaction. Heidi, will you ever forgive me? Everyone reading this post, right now: go out to Frank and buy some wonderful sheet music, take it home and enjoy it and savor it for the rest of your music-loving days. For God’s sake, don’t Xerox it at your music library.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted July 6, 2006 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Ah, Jeremy. Such is the dilemma of indirect communication. One cannot see the hint of a smile or teasing gaze that would otherwise point toward a more lighthearted meaning. 🙂 Your explanation, if she reads it, should alleviate any misunderstandings, though.

  2. hari
    Posted July 6, 2006 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    too bad it wasn’t a delimma with a sales person at bergdorf’s. i can’t use sheet music.

  3. Pattyoboe
    Posted July 6, 2006 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear … and I didn’t get the humor. Shame on me! I am notorious for offending because people can’t seem to see the wink I’m giving. How could I have not noticed yours?! Geesh.

    Sorry about that. (And sorrier still that I was the first to post!)

  4. Language Lover
    Posted July 6, 2006 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for speaking out against the all-too-common practice of photocopying music. Let’s give publishers and composers their due, even if it does mean braving an eccentric salesperson now and then.

  5. bryant
    Posted July 7, 2006 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    patelson’s still around?

  6. Davei
    Posted July 8, 2006 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    We do owe a debt of gratitude to anyone willing to put up with small profits and large headaches of running a sheet music business these days.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted July 9, 2006 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Fret not, Jeremy: your tone was perfectly apparent, at least to me.


  8. robert
    Posted July 9, 2006 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Your tone was apparent to me, too. But we all know how words in cyberspace can be misunderstood, so perhaps there’s a case for “less is more”.

    Seems to me you made the fundamental point in this entry. That you should have researched the matter. Even if it would have taken too much time to contact the performers — a few minutes with WorldCat, the catalogues of Eastman and University of Maryland might have provided some hint as to whether it had been published.

    After all, Heidi runs a business, not a research service. If you’d drawn blanks from your research, it would surely have been legitimate to query her then. But perhaps not before.

    One personal piece of good has come out of this. I’ve not dealt with Heidi & Co. previously. But I’m going to. Definitely!

  9. Steinwayliz
    Posted July 9, 2006 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, Jeremy. I leave the country for a few weeks and return to see that you have dragged out the Heidi thing again.

    This is not the first time you have abused Heidi in a blog, and I responded once before that I have found Heidi and Frank Music to be nothing but helpful–both in person and on the phone. Heidi has actually mailed me music at no charge, trusting me to send the check upon receipt. Who else does this??

    I must admit that I did not find the tone of your original post that funny (must have missed the humor somehow) and agreed with some of the harsher comments posted in response to your blog.

    I appreciate your “retraction” or “back-pedalling” or whatever your current blog is meant to be. I grew up in NYC as a piano student in the 1960’s, when music shopping at Patelson’s was still acceptable. Of course now the place is virtually unuseable, and Heidi’s service is better than I ever saw in New York almost 50 years ago. Now that I live in the “hinterland” and have few opportunities to browse in decent music stores I realize how much I depend on a service like Frank Music to help me out. I’m sure not going to find what I need at Melody Haven in Roanoke, or whatever.

    Professionals should encourage and cherish those in support services who try to make life easier for us: God knows there are very few who are qualified to do so and who care. I’m disappointed in you.

    Hope the mountains and clean air of NC cool you off a bit. Get off that lofty steed.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted July 10, 2006 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    But Jeremy, truth be told, Heidi IS a little bit scary. She has gotten quite a few of my dollars over the years, and although I don’t really buy much music anymore, I still have to steel myself just a little bit before going in/up there….

    If only she would let one look in those stacks. I know she is hiding stuff of great value back there.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted July 10, 2006 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    hi jeremy
    I’m another former student of Sebok. googling him, I sawur blog. Poor you, you must have had the first lesson in the moring, the one he was always late for because of the illegal parking. I had that morning slot too. But Sebok’s lateness was always remediated by some interesting comment about his personal life. I’m sure the story about vacuuming to feel useful was meant to give you a humorous hint about something. When I read your blog, I notice a kind of meditative reverence for sublime and perfect moments. I also noticed that you were writing in fingerings to a slow pharse in Beethoven. I am convinced that Mr. Sebok would have considered it unnecessary to write out fingerings for such a passage. Why do you? Is this”usefulness”? I guess one reason that I ask is that as a mother of an active 3 year old, these days I’ve no choice but toeliminate everything but the utterly essential from practice time. I recommend active parenthood for this purpose! It also works wonders for sorting out what is real in one’s partnerships… take care, a fellow pianist PS why not try some typos, in a hurry to express something essential – why don’t we classical folk try that more often? – Mr Sebok modelled the tossed-off, unpracticed concert and it was not a failing of his but a suggestion for the direction of concert life

  12. Anonymous
    Posted July 11, 2006 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    I Found Absolutely FREE PlayBoy & Penthouse:
    If I find something else I’ll inform you.
    Best Regards, Yuriy

  13. Anonymous
    Posted July 11, 2006 at 12:31 pm | Permalink


    I think you got your lesson here. Heidi is not your personal friend, you don’t know her in and out. It’s hurtful to make a blog about her twice whether it was for funny reasons, esp. anecdote. First as an ordinary reader, I did not see any humor bet.the lines but if there was, you are not sure what’s the effect it has on her. How do you think she knows about your blog, she must have read your blogs all along or somebody sympathetic to her told her. After all, this is public. I myself is hesitant to meet and talk to you again. I might end up the subject of your next blog one day.I don’t want to be described in some blog that anybody could interpret in different ways and laugh at.

    Why not stick to music ha? I understand you want to be funny and your life is into writing but sometimes, it hurts other people..So go ahead, bring her flowers and apologize as soon as you come back here in NYC.

  14. Andrew
    Posted July 11, 2006 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I do not presume to offer any view, but merely suggest it might be a practical step to edit out the parts in issue in your previous blog.

    Please don’t take the advice of anonymous No. 6 on this thread. Just as Wigmore and its audience would have been worse off in May without your concerts, cyberspace and your readers would be poorer without your posts on music, art and life. And some are no doubt waiting for developments in the storylines for the frogs, baristi and other characters.

    Best wishes

  15. Allison K.
    Posted July 11, 2006 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Have to agree with Andrew here — please don’t let certain comments made by Anonymous #6 deter you from continuing this blog; its presence would be sorely missed. Misunderstandings can occur despite the best of intentions, though, and perhaps it would be best to leave out names in the future.

  16. Anonymous
    Posted July 11, 2006 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Yes Jeremy. In the future there should be no proper names used for fear of possible offense. And the same goes for specific places and events. You may not appreciate it because of your obvious insensitivity, but some people don’t like to have their home towns lampooned. And for God’s sake, stop referring to composers in that familiar way you have – wouldn’t it be better to just say “a certain baroque composer’s keyboard composition” than let the cat out of the bag and let everyone know you’re talking about the Bach Fifth Partita? What if someone doesn’t agree with what you have to say about the Partita? You’re arrogance is infuriating. Finally, I’m looking into investigating whether you may have committed a hate crime on this blog and if charges might be brought against you in order to set an example to others who might be contemplating relating an amusing anecdote to their readers….

  17. hari
    Posted July 11, 2006 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    so what if people don’t agree with what you have to say. isn’t that what makes all of this interesting? we’re so afraid of being politcally correct and inoffensive, we’ll all turn into dust.

  18. Kate
    Posted July 11, 2006 at 9:21 pm | Permalink


    I agree with the above: please don’t discontinue your posting because one person feels it necessary. And for goodness’ sake–how maddening would it be to read scores of posts with the phrase “a certain Baroque composer’s composition,” or “a certain post-modern composer’s composition?” Not liking a piece of music is not the end of the world. We all have our tastes and if anyone has the knowledge to express those, it’s you. If nothing else, it broadens my repertoire and gives me a challenge when I’m feeling ambitious. My only advice (and I apologize for it because you’ve gotten so much so far) is to perhaps use pseudonyms for those you may run into from time to time. Or don’t, depending on how you see fit. Remember: it says “Think Denk” for a reason.

  19. allison k
    Posted July 11, 2006 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Pseudoynms for compositions? The suggestion of a hate crime having been committed? The former prospect is dreadful, and the latter suggestion is absurd.

    First sentence in the entry in question: “I was deliciously tempted to go down to Frank…” He made it clear from the beginning that he’s fond of this store, and further clarified it in no uncertain terms in his follow-up entry! Most of us can think of someone with whom we exchange playful banter on occasion; this is apparently the Jeremy-Heidi dynamic. I always assumed it was, anyway (and yes, he confirmed it).

    Of course, anytime one mentions someone’s name in the context of an anecdote–particularly in a public manner–there’s always a chance that the individual in question will end up hearing about it and misinterpret the intended meaning. Happened here. He apologized. Even went beyond this and devoted an entire entry to placing his sheet-music-shopping heart on the line and reiterating his feelings of affection for Frank Music.

    Let’s move on… Pleeeeease.

  20. Anonymous
    Posted July 12, 2006 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    Anonymous no 6 did not suggest anything drastic nor to stop posting. He/she just said to go ahead bring her some flowers and apologize. Although Jeremy apologized here,I think also he needs to apologize in person. In some time he will go down there to buy another sheets. They’ll encounter each other soon.I love Jeremy’s humor and witty posts from the frog, onion bagel situation to the semi- romantic barista and his plan pillow festival.That was depicting life w/ no intentions of making fun on somebody…but I also agree w/ some comments that maybe he needs to omit mentioning names. An X,Y,or Z will do but it would still not guarantee you that it will not generate misinterpretation. The point is,w/ the last blog,it made the person angry. There was obviously something wrong w/ those lines that made the identified person responded in not so happy or amused way.It probably compounded from Vol.1 already….
    This is a blog, meant for us to think what the writer really meant…. cheers to all and JD you’re still my artist, don’t ever doubt it but for a friend I may not really know what you’re analyzing inside your brain about your day to day encounters.

  21. Lane Savant
    Posted July 12, 2006 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Caveat; The world is not a nice place, Allison K. Mr. Denk’s mild and amusing comments could very easily be turned into something ugly. “Perception” of hate or harassment or other actionable
    offences is often all it takes.
    I do know how humor can get out of hand. Especially humor in the ironic mode
    I learned my lesson from a certain mediocre large musical organisation situated in a certain mediocre city located in the northwest of the greatest country in the world.
    I have tickets to the Seattle Chamber Festival and am looking forward to hearing you, Jeremy Denk
    Monday (17th). Are you in Seattle yet? If so, welcome and how do you like that mountain?
    Tonight at Jackstraw (43rd & Roosevelt) there is a free Composer spotlight. On the last friday of the month, at Soundbridge, Seattle Symphony’s Music discovery center, we have the Composers Salon, much interesting and sometimes odd music.
    http://www.jackstraw.org: composersalon.com

  22. Anonymous
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Well, you do have a wildly boiling kettle on your hands. I enjoy your blog and am glad to know about Frank Music as an alternative to Patelson’s. Even happier to know they have a website. Had you used letters or pseudonyms I would not know what store you were talking about. I am a musician and pre-concert lecturer and have my own opinions on composers and compositions, yet that does not prevent me from enjoying your thoughts, considering them or ignoring them. If someone doesn’t like your style they shouldn’t read your blog. If they don’t agree with you or find you annoying, they should simply not agree with you, or, once again, not read your blog. Pretty simple.

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