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Subject: Frederick Selch, Executive and Collector

He was 72
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Date Posted: August 30, 2002 6:38:41 EDT

Frederick R. Selch, a broadcasting and advertising executive and magazine publisher who owned one of the largest private collections of antique American musical instruments, died of cancer on Aug. 22 at his home in Manhattan.

Mr. Selch, who began collecting almost 50 years ago, amassed more than 300 instruments by 1977, the same year he founded an organization dedicated to presenting music of the Colonial-Federal period in America.

The group, the Federal Music Society, was an ensemble of 26 players who used instruments of that time, roughly 1775 to 1830, from Mr. Selch's collection. The society played in more than 70 concerts from 1976 to 1985, when it disbanded.

Instruments from the collection were among those displayed at a 1984 exhibition, "The Art of Music, American Paintings and Musical Instruments, 1770-1910," at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, a Manhattan branch of the Whitney Museum.

"During the mid-1950's I acquired two pieces and became aware that American instruments had been ignored by music scholars," Mr. Selch said in an interview at the time. With scholars and others, he helped to establish the American Musical Instrument Society and its journal.

From 1983 to 1989 he was the owner, editor and publisher of Ovation, a monthly magazine that published articles and book reviews about classical music and listed the schedules of classical music radio stations.

In 1982, he produced a Broadway musical, "Play Me a Country Song," that was set in a Rocky Mountain truck stop and featured two dozen original country-and-western tunes. His work in the last 10 years included involvement in a series of American Music Festivals at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Frederick Richard Selch, known as Eric, was born in South Royalton, Vt., and grew up in West Winfield, N.Y. He graduated from Hamilton College and received a master's degree in radio-television production and broadcasting from Syracuse University.

Mr. Selch worked at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency from 1955 to 1974, first in Britain, where he was involved in setting up an early television production studio, then in New York City as a broadcast supervisor and media specialist.

He is survived by his wife, the former Patricia Bakwin; three sons, Nicholas Frederick, of Lancaster, Pa.; Jason Bakwin, of Chicago; and Gregory Stephen, of Manhattan; a daughter, Andrea Helen Selch of Hillsborough, N.C.; two brothers, John, of Indianapolis, and Grant Jeremy, of Albany; two sisters, the Rev. Cecily Yount Whiteford of Buffalo and Adrianna Coe of Park Ridge, N.J.; and eight grandchildren.

He is to be awarded a doctorate posthumously from New York University's American studies program. His thesis was "Instrumental Accompaniments for Yankee Hymn Tunes: 1760-1840."

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