I agree that Michael Gray is the person who has the most information about
David Hall's career -- except David himself, who as far as I know is still
with us. This is what I know and recall.
David became involved with NBC in the World War II years as a young man
just out of college. He helped to produce NBC Symphony broadcasts, among other
things. I don't know whether he had any role at RCA Victor in the 1940s except
to write notes for Victor 78 albums, but he may have done more. I have not
heard that he produced any recordings.
When I had an opportunity to talk to David in 1993 he said that he was
approached around 1947 or '48 by people from Mercury about starting classical
records for them. Until then, Mercury had successfully published popular and jazz
records. They asked David because of the knowledge he had demonstrated through
his Record Book. He undertook the job, and established the Mercury classical
catalogue. As Steve Smolian wrote, David's great enthusiasm for Czech and
Scandinavian music led him to secure the rights for Mercury to issue many
distinguished recordings on Mercury's MG 10000 LP series, plus sometimes remarkable
German radio tapes conducted by Rosbaud and others. He also brought German
Telefunken microphones from Europe, which weren't in use in the USA around 1950/1
but were superior to those that were, realized that in 1951 the Chicago
Symphony was without a recording contract, got them and Kubelik (with whom he'd made
friends in Prague before 1948) signed up, and started the "Living Presence"
Mercury series, which created a sonic revolution of sorts and started the "high
fidelity" business of the early fifties.
Refresh my memory.What was Hall's connection to RCA ?
Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
The fellow who put this earlier line together was David Hall. The
Scandinavian and Czech material is deep in wonderful performances. Many
musicians had close links to the authentic performing traditions of many of
the represented composers. There is also a Hans Rosbaud group including one
of the Brahms Serenades. Identification errors are not unheard of, mostly
on the German items. The early LP years were a wild west of expanding
repertory and depsperate post-World War II European musicians slugging it
out for gigs. Classic Record Collector has been writing up some of the
early companies and personalities. There's a long way to go.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Fine"
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 5:23 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury co-founder Irving Green passes
> Hi Roger:
> The guy who probably knows most about this is Michael Gray. I know very
> little about pre-original Mercury classical records. They were mostly
> taken out of print quickly after Mercury started rolling their own. I have
> a few of them from the very dawn of LPs. They're in 78-style album jackets
> and seem to be made of shellac or something much thicker and heavier and
> less flexible than typical vinyl. I've never played them, just keep them
> for historical reasons. Not even sure what titles I have since they're
> deep in the shelves.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Roger and Allison Kulp"
> Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 2:37 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury co-founder Irving Green passes
>>I was going through my pre-Living Presence Mercury Classics
>>Lps,yesterday,and I had forgotten,they had put out the (only ?)US
>>pressings,of the early Sixten Erhling, Swedish Lps.The ones that predate
>>the EMI monos.(I own two of these.)But one noteworthy record I own,is the
>>Mercury-sourced,American Broadcasting Company Quartet,recording of "Death
>>and The Maiden".A quick Google,only mentions the recordings with Reginald
>>Kell,who is obviously not part of this record.I am not sure if this has
>>ever been reissued.
>> Roger Kulp
>> Don Cox wrote:
>> On 07/07/06, Tom Fine wrote:
>>> You are correct. There were probably 50 more CD's that could have been
>>> done (perhaps more if one considered being completist on the mono
>>> stuff, which was an unlikely track because there was specific and
>>> limited interest in the pre-1956 catalog and that interest was
>>> addressed with the handful of mono reissues). Universal decided to
>>> discontinue the reissues in 2000 after scaling back the previous two
>>> releases. Many of the titles are still in print in the US but seem to
>>> be taken out of print in most other markets, which is pretty idiotic
>>> since they sold extremely well in the Orient and Europe. A good
>>> classical issue is like an annuity -- keep it in print and it will
>>> keep sending checks to the home office.
>>> While there are probably some on this list who are passionate about
>>> small-group and chamber music, in Mercury's case it never sold as well
>>> as the orchestral and band recordings, so it was considered at the
>>> bottom of the pile for reissues. Solo and concerto stuff like Janos
>>> Starker and Byron Janis were big sellers originally and were big
>>> sellers on CD. Point is, the reissue was a commercial undertaking (and
>>> was very profitable), so what was reissued and in what order was
>>> considered very carefully.
>> It seems to me it is time some of the classic recordings (in all genres)
>> were recognised as cultural treasures, so that reissues like these could
>> be subsidised by UNESCO, the big Foundations, or Governments in various
>> countries, just as art galleries and opera houses are subsidised.
>> While there may sometimes be a profit to be made from reissues, often
>> there is not. Or only enough to support a one-man-and-dog record company,
>> with consequent poor distribution.
>> There are many recordings that should be permanently available to all,
>> in the highest possible engineering quality, for the same reason that
>> anyone can walk into the National Gallery and look at the pictures.
>> Don Cox
>> [log in to unmask]
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