In Search of the Missing Fundamental: by Richard K. Jones
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Alfred Friese Timpani Studies

These recordings are mentioned in the forward to the The Friese-Lepak Timpani Method: A Complete Method for Timpani.  Few actual physical analog 78 rpm discs remain extant. They are intended to demonstrate a standard for intonation, rapid tuning changes and the tonal qualities of the “kettle drums” of the period by playing tuning exercises and standard orchestral excerpts. The recordings speak for themselves.

“A true innovation, the first Timpani recordings anywhere were made by Alfred Friese in 1950. This unique set of recordings titled TIMPANI STUDIES, a demonstration of the timpanists art for students, is now in over one hundred universities, colleges and conservatories.”  (The Friese-Lepak Timpani Method)

Alfred Friese, world-renowned solo timpanist and dean of timpani teachers, presents in this album a practical demonstration of the timpani in its various orchestral uses, conducting of tuning exercises and famous excerpts from standard orchestral works.

Intended as a norm for perfect intonation and true tonal quality, these recordings will help satisfy a long-felt need for a better understanding and evaluation of the instrument by students, teachers conductors and composers.

Alfred Friese 1950.  Photo by M. Rosenberg

Recording courteous of James Musto III
Originally released on 3 audio discs: analog, 78 rpm; 12 in.
Re-mastered by Sean P. Jones

Author: Alfred Friese, timpani;  Edwin McArthur,  piano; Philip James, narrator.
Publisher: New York, N.Y.: Artist Recordings, [1950]
Edition/Format:  Music: 78 rpm: No Linguistic Content
Genre/Form: Studies and exercises
Material Type: Music


By Frederick D. Fairchild (PAS)

Alfred P. Friese, a graduate of Leipzig Royal Conservatory, was originally trained as a violinist, and his musical proficiency on this instrument won him the prized Artist Diploma and subsequently a position in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. It was during this time at Leipzig that he became interested in the timpani and began to study with the orchestra’s timpanist, Hermann Schmidt. His first major timpani engagement was with Hans Winderstein’s Orchestra. In 1902, he was invited by Franz Scheel to come to the United States to become one of the founding members of what would later become the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Friese then moved on to become timpanist with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Emil Paur. When Gustav Mahler established the New York Philharmonic on a regular salaried basis in 1909, he chose Alfred Friese from among nine competitors for the solo timpani chair. Some of the conductors under whose baton he performed were Fritz Reiner, Arturo Toscanini, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Arthur Fiedler, Eugene Ormandy, Igor Stravinski, Leopold Stokowski, and Sir Thomas Beecham. In May of 1926, Mr. Friese opened his School for Timpani, the first of its kind. He also served as chairman of the percussion department of the Manhattan School of Music. His method of timpani instruction, the Friese-Lepak Timpani Method, has become a standard text for the instrument.

Alfred Friese is remembered as one of the world’s foremost timpanists and teachers.