here are the - lengthy - details I promised yesterday. Even if I can't
give you a definitive answer, I hope that the information below will put
more data points on the time line and help you to really identify the
first digital recording DG made for release.
The recording I mentioned yesterday was: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5,
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Karl Böhm, originally released on
DG 2532 005. My box set containing the last three symphonies only has
the information that it was published in 1981. Two other sources confirm
a recording date of 1980 (F. Endler: Karl Böhm. Ein Dirigentenleben and
the liner notes to DG 413 721-2).
In another box (Bach Cembalo Concertos with The English Concert, cond.
Trevor Pinnock, DG 2723 077) further dates for DG sessions in London can
be found in the liner notes: The last analog sessions for this box took
place on February 4 to Feb. 8 1980 and the first digital session was on
The Tchaikovsky has probably been recorded before, because in November
Karl Böhm was already busy recording the Beethoven 9th digitally in
Vienna (released on DG 2741 009 and on CD on 413 721-2 where the notes
list the recording date).
This confirms that DG switched from analog to digital in London at some
time between February and September 1980.
Other interesting data points come from a close examination of the
record numbers of the early digital DG LPs (all record data below are
taken from the Bielefelder Katalog 1/1986, the publication dates are
taken from the LPs in question).
DG obviously started two new series in the 4+3 number scheme in use at
that time for their new digital recordings. These are 2532 xxx for LPs
and 2741 xxx for box sets. If one now assumes, that DG assigned the
numbers in the order of recording, nearly everything makes sense. Even
if this assumption should prove wrong, this list is a good starting point.
2532 001 Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Sérénade melancolique, L. Maazel,
G. Kremer, Berlin Philharmonic
2532 002 Vienna New Year's Concert, L. Maazel cond.
(this must have been been between 1980 and 1986 with 1980 being most
probable, because in 1979 Boskowsky was still conducting and it would
make sense for DG to immediately follow up the 1979 digital New Year's
Concert on Decca with an own production)
2532 003 Brahms Symphony No. 4, C. Kleiber, Vienna Philharmonic
2532 004 Mozart Die Zauberflöte (highlights), H.v. Karajan, Berlin
2532 005 Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, K. Böhm, London Symphony, see above
2532 006 Offenbach Overtures, H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
2532 007 Bruckner Symphony No. 3, H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
2532 008 Beethoven Piano Sonatas No. 8, 13, 14, E. Gilels (published
1981, as stated on DG 400 036-2, the original release on CD)
2741 001 Mozart Die Zauberflöte, H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
2741 002 Wagner Parsifal, H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
2741 003 Strauß-Family Waltzes et al., H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
2741 006 Wagner Tristan und Isolde, C. Kleiber, Staatskapelle Dresden
(recorded in Dresden in August and October 1980 and February and April
2741 009 Beethoven Symphony No. 9, K. Böhm, Vienna Philharmonic
(recorded in November 1980, see above, published 1981)
2741 010 Mahler Symphony No. 3, C. Abbado, Vienna Philharmonic
This strengthens the case that the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto you found
earlier is indeed DG's first digital recording made for release and that
is was recorded in late 1979.
I would even feel confident enough to state, that we now should know the
first digital recordings for each of DG's major recording locations:
2532 001 for Berlin, 2532 002 for Vienna and 2532 005 for London. But
given the fact that all DG LPs of that time that I examined don't list
recording dates (except LPs on the Archiv label), this is conjecture.
Tom Fine wrote:
> Hello Ulrich:
> This was a very good tip. Thank you!
> According to Billboard as reprinted here:
> DGG's first digital master was made in 1979:
> "1979 - First digital recording (Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with
> Gidon Kremer and the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Lorin Maazel)"
> Further Googling finds DGG's information for the download version of
> this recording:
> which indicates a December 1979 recording date.
> If all this info is accurate, this would indicate DGG was the last of
> the major European labels to move to digital recording. Decca and
> Philips started in January 1979, EMI in July 1979.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "G. W. Ulrich Sieveking"
> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 6:13 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital firsts in Europe
>> Hello Tom,
>> if I recall correctly, DG has been recording digitally for release
>> before that time with the LSO in London. The three last Tchaikovsky
>> Symphonies under Karl Böhm come to my mind, of which at least one must
>> have been digital and recorded in 1979 or 1980. I'll dig out the LPs
>> and post the details tomorrow.
>> Best wishes,
>> Ulrich Sieveking
>> Tom Fine wrote:
>>> Hello All:
>>> I am trying to track down the first digital recordings by all the
>>> major European classical labels.
>>> For my ARSC Journal article, I confirmed Decca as being first to make
>>> a for-release digital
>>> recording, the New Year's Day 1979 concert in Vienna. Philips
>>> followed the next day with Marinner
>>> recording Handel's Opus 3 concerti grossi (although another
>>> listmember has pointed out that Philips
>>> lists a different recording date on the CD issue; I will take the
>>> word of former Philips executive
>>> Franz van Dongen). Decca developed their own digital recording
>>> system (described in an AES
>>> convention presentation by F.A. (Tony) Griffiths), and Philips used a
>>> Sony 1600 system for their
>>> first sessions.
>>> EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" reissue of Andre Previn's
>>> July 2-3, 1979 recording of
>>> Debussy works states in the booklet this was EMI's first digital
>>> for-release recording. The booklet
>>> talks about a videotape-based system sampling at 50khz. Does anyone
>>> know any details -- was it a
>>> modified Sony or JVC system or an EMI in-house development? Or was
>>> the booklet author wrong about
>>> the sampling rate?
>>> DGG's website:
>>> "Deutsche Grammophon was the first to enter the (CD) market, when
>>> Herbert von Karajan recorded
>>> Richard Strauss's "Eine Alpensinfonie" with the Berlin Philharmonic
>>> in 1981 - the first classical
>>> work to find its way on to compact disc."
>>> So was this 1981 Karajan recording DGG's first for-release digital
>>> session? And, what equipment did
>>> DGG use in the early days?
>>> Thanks in advance for any/all facts/answers.
>>> -- Tom Fine