May I write something about the Columbia/EMI/Philips business in response
to Roger's message -- after I say that this software for some reason doesn't
permit me to select portions to which to reply? Thanks for your indulgence.
Some of what I am about to write is based upon recollection, which can be
unreliable. Corrections will be welcome. However, here is the story as I know
Columbia USA and Columbia UK had exchange agreements from the first decade
of the twentieth century. Ownership of the two companies changed in many ways
until the 1940s, but the exchange agreement -- the ability to release each
others' recordings in each others' territories -- was unchanged.
The connection between the two companies was dissolved in 1952, by which
time UK Columbia was part of EMI (as it had been for decades). Columbia USA
signed an agreement with Philips for release of Philips recordings in the USA
(after a year or so, primarily the Epic label) and for Philips to arrange for the
release of USA Columbia recordings in the UK and elsewhere. Also for Philips
to make recordings for USA Columbia in other countries.
The most important factor in this, probably, was Sir Thomas Beecham. Until
the dissolution of the Columbia agreement he and the RPO had been recorded by
EMI (Columbia). The end of the contract meant that Philips engineers would do
it from then on. They did, almost always in EMI's various venues. Those
Beecham LPs were issued by USA Columbia and UK Philips until about 1955. In that
year, Beecham re-signed with HMV (EMI). That meant another change for him.
To back up: when UK Columbia EMI lost its USA affiliate in 1952, it
established Angel Records in 1953. Early Angels all derive from UK Columbia. Victor
had its exchange agreement with HMV until early 1957.
Beecham's first HMV LPs -- Schubert 6, Handel's Solomon and so on --
appeared on Angel in the USA in 1956/7, probably because the HMV agreement with
Victor was about to expire. There were probably complicated issues, but I don't
know anything about them. If someone does, I hope you will write. Regardless,
USA Columbia went on issuing Beecham titles made earlier, including some of the
late Mozart symphonies, through 1955 or '56. Years after they were recorded
and when Angel was releasing new Beecham recordings.
Pardon my ignorance,but did EMI buy out the Pye/Nixa catalogue,or just the Barbirolli stuff ? While Mercury issued some of it,most of it,was issued on Vanguard.There was also,the Nixa/Pye/Wetminster axis.All of which,is just as confusing,as the Columbia/EMI/Philips business,which I have yet to completely figure out.
Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Who put them out on CD? Did they revert back to the European original copyright owner? Mercury may
have leased them for XX years or for US market only back in the day. I really don't know anything
about those pre-original releases.
There's still one more twist in the Mercury classical history. Some of the material original done by
Mercury by arrangements with other companies reverted out of Philips hands after a certain amount of
time. For instance, the Halle/Barbirolli recordings, which were owned by Pye and eventually EMI and
were put out on CD from Pye's master tapes. Another example was the Ricordi opera recordings, which
were put out on CD by EMI. Last I checked, most or all of the Halle recordings were no longer in
print from EMI but some were on compilations put out by the Barbirolli Society. I do not know the
status of the operas, which were originally put out by EMI in the late 1980s, but I suspect some or
all are out of print now.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven Smolian"
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 5:39 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury co-founder Irving Green passes
> The Ehrling Sibelius Symphonies are so good that I hunted them down on CD. It's still my favorite
> 4th, the gritiest and, I think, along with Luonotar, the greatest of of his works.
> Steve Smolian
> ---- 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]
>>> Talk is cheap. Use Yahoo! Messenger to make PC-to-Phone calls. Great rates starting at 1¢/min.
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