----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Richter" <[log in to unmask]>
> Terry Smythe wrote:
> > I too am a collector, but my perception is that in acquiring a
> > rare document, I have saved it from destruction and have an
> > obligation to share with the world and future generations. Why
> > should I be the only one to view and enjoy such documents?
> Permit me an anecdote along the above lines.
> About 45 years ago, I was shopping for records at H. Royer Smith in
> Philadelphia. A clerk was re-pricing a substantial collection including
> five sets of acoustic recordings of opera. I bought them at the marked
> price. I had never heard of their existence, but was fascinated
> particularly since they came from La Scala.
> A few years later, the first volume of "Opera on Record" came out and I
> checked for those recordings. Those that were listed were only noted; no
> copy was known to exist. One is remarkable (a Traviata with Bevignani).
> Two embodied most unusual performance practice. The others were less
> notable but were still the earliest recordings of those operas - from
> the shrine of Italian opera; though casts were not stellar, they may be
> as close as we can come to knowing how they were being performed when
> relatively new. "Opera on Record" was compiled by the most experienced
> and knowledgable collectors of the time. If the likes of Lord Harewood
> and Alan Blyth could not locate copies, it might well be that mine were
> the only survivors.
> What to do?
> First, I made second tapes with the equipment I had. Second, I donated
> the originals to U. of California Riverside, the U. of C. repository for
> older audio recordings. Finally, I strove to find ways to disseminate
> the recordings. In fact, that was the inspiration for the Audio
> Encyclopedia, a project which occupied me for over a decade.
> So I have little enthusiasm for those whose objective in collecting is
> merely to amass and to hoard. Yes, the originals should be preserved for
> the context they afford, but even more I believe that the audio content
> should be readily accessible. My objective in the Audio Encyclopedia has
> been to make it possible for every interested listener, every scholar of
> the artform, and every student looking for 'new' ideas on standard works
> to know them.
Well, this is something which could be applicable to myself...given my
half-vast archive of historic shellac! As far as I am concerned, I see
myself simply as a temporary "keeper" of a valuable portion of the sonic
history of the western world!
One thing this implies to me is...I should, insofar as possible and as
time permits, try to enter the data on these sound recordings into a
yet-to-be-created discographic database...!
As well, my non-immediate plans are to make the actual sonic content
available to the world. If through doing so, I can make a modest
personal profit (NOT like some of the record sellers on eBay...!!)
that is so much the better, since that money could be used to purchase
MORE old records!
Steven C. Barr