Congratulations to Patrick Feaster for identifying Wellington's Victory!
Beethoven - the first recording (1889) - YouTube
gives an 1889.9.13 recording of the Romance in F, Op. 50, played by Herr
Krahmer and Herr Schmalfuß, but You Tube can be far too unreliable. Any
I also need to know whether WoO 33 should be accepted as a recording
first, indeed what definition of recording should be accepted.
That there's any thing *by Beethoven* before 1799 certainly possible.
I suspect there is a music box of part of the Moonschein Sonata (1801) or
Für Elise, K. 59 (1810).
Does anyone have a piano roll listing? Schnabel punched 051n2 (Rondo in G)
on Ampico 60613, in 1922, making it the first, since Kempff's disc
recording, P.66040 mx1721as, 1722½ as, came in 1924.
Also, what about cylinders, Berliners, and vertical cut recordings?
I own a first edition of Kinsky/Halm (1955) which I picked up at a shop
near Carnegie Hall in the 1970s for about $50. A second edition came out a
couple of years ago, in two volumes, for 500 Euros, way beyond my budget.
Happily there is a copy on reserve at the music library at Catholic
University I can get to on the subway, which I perused.
WILL THIS LIST TAKE ATTACHMENTS? I can scan pages from xeroxes of K/H II
and anything else on request in limited doses.
Here's what the MHS disc says:
The Ultimate Music Box
A computerized re-creation of pieces for lost mechanical instruments by
Beethoven, Haydn, C.P.E. Bach, Handel, and Cherubini
Christopher Light and David Kraehenbuehl, Performers and Programmers
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) Pieces for Mechanical Instruments,
1. Allegro for Cylinder Organ, No. 29
2. Minuet for Clockwork Flute and Harp, Nos. 19/20
3. Adagio for Mechanical Clarinet, No. 26
4. Presto for Clockwork Harp, No. 7
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Pieces for Clockwork Instruments, Set 1,
5. Allegro, No. 3 (ca. 1799?)
6. Scherzo, No. 2 (1799-1800)
7. Adagio assai. No. 1 (ca. 1799?)
[There are two other pieces in WoO 33.]
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) Tunes for Clay's Musical Clock,
Set 1 (1735-1745)
8. No. 1
9. No. 8
10. No. 5
11. No. 2
Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)
12. Sonata for Cylinder Organ (1805)
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Pieces for the Urban Organ, Hob. XIX (1792)
13. Allegro moderato, No. 22
14. Presto, No. 18
15. Song ("Warning to a Girl"), No. 19
16. Allegro, No. 24
16. Ludwig van Beethoven: Wellington's Victory at Vittoria for
Panharmonicon, Op. 91 (1813)
Until the early part of this century, it was impossible to record a
musical performance. The only way that music could be heard without a live
performer was by clockwork machines that played strings, bells, or organ
pipes and were powered by water pressure, springs, or clock weights. While
the earliest of these date back to the 15th century (and some are still
being made in the form of player pianos), these mechanical instruments
reached their peak of development in the late 18th to mid-19th centuries,
when they achieved a high enough level of sophistication so that the
composers represented here (and others including Mozart and later
Stravinsky) were willing to compose original works for them. The pieces on
this recording were composed specifically for mechanical instruments, and,
in certain cases, the composer worked closely with the instrument maker to
ensure as lifelike and musical an interpretation as possible.
Most mechanical instruments were programmed by a pinned cylinder. Metal
pins were hammered into a wooden cylinder with spacing calculated so that,
as a clockwork mechanism turned the cylinder slowly, the pins would press
on levers which in turn would strike bells, pluck strings, or allow air
into small organ pipes. Because completely pinned cylinders could hold
several pieces, they were called "programs" in the same sense that a
musical program is a list of pieces to be performed. Later, in the
mid-19th century, punched cards that had originally been invented to
control mechanical weaving machines were adapted to mechanical
instruments, and the term program came to mean a deck of punched cards
used for automatic control of a machine. Because the first computers also
required these punched cards, the term was carried along to this field;
the term computer programming is derived from musical programming.
Although hundreds of late 19th-century mechanical instruments can be found
in collections today, only a handful of those from the baroque and
classical period have survived, and not all of these are in playing
condition. Because many of the best examples were in museums in Germany
and Austria, World War II was especially hard on them. The last mechanical
instrument for which Beethoven composed was destroyed in Stuttgart during
the war, and one of three organs Haydn wrote for disappeared from Vienna
during the Russian occupation.
None of the mechanical instruments for which the music on this recording
was written is known to still exist today. The music thus can no longer be
performed as it was originally written. It can, however, be re-created by
today's equivalent of the mechanical instrument--the musical computer--and
that re-creation is the goal of this recording. A computer is the logical
descended of the mechanical instrument because it operates by performing
pre-programmed repetitive tasks with variations at a speed much faster
than any human could. Conceptually there is no difference between
programming a computer to send electrical signals that represent letters
to a printer (in which case we call the computer a "word processor") and
programming it to send electrical signals that represent musical pitches
to a player piano or a synthesizer (in which case we call the computer a
"sequencer" because it sends the pitch information in the correct
The pieces on this recording have been re-created by a Macintosh SE
computer programmed to operate a Sequential Prophet 2002 sampler and a
Yamaha TX81Z FM tone generator. These are digital devices that are in
effect very specialized computers whose only task is to generate accurate
pitches within a very wide range of programmable timbres in response to
either a sequencer or an electronic keyboard. Each is capable of
eight-note polyphony and eight simultaneous timbres that can range from
snare drums through flutes to space-age instruments that have literally
not yet been invented.
For this recording their timbres were programmed to simulate baroque and
classical mechanical instruments that no longer exist. Because it was
impossible to listen to the original instruments, the re-creation had to
be based on their written descriptions and, where possible, their pictures
and comparison to other mechanical instruments that remain and are in
playable condition. Therefore no claim can be made to absolute
authenticity of the instrumental sounds. In fact, when a choice had to be
made between a musical re-creation and a mechanical one, the musical one
was selected. And in the interpretation a degree of freedom approximating
that of a live performer was exercised in the programming. This is in
keeping with historical research, which has shown that whenever a composer
had the opportunity to work directly with the craftsman pinning the
cylinder, a free and musical realization resulted (which is in sharp
contrast with the very mechanical results of many of the mass-produced
late 19th-century street organs that are all that can be heard in most
Because C.P.E. Bach was court harpsichordist to Frederick II of Prussia
(himself an accomplished flutist) from 1740 to 1767, and because Frederick
was so interested in mechanical instruments that he established a factory
to manufacture them in Berlin, it is generally assumed that the 29 or 30
pieces Emanuel Bach composed for automatic performance were commissioned
by the king. However, almost nothing at all is known about these
instruments except their names. The cylinder organ (sometimes translated
as "barrel organ," which incorrectly evokes street and carnival music) was
probably a very small mechanical instrument that sat on a table, with
pipes only a foot or two high. His clockwork flute and clarinet would also
have been tiny organs with one pipe for each note and probably with reeds
for the second one. Estimates differ as to whether the strings of the
clockwork harps would have been plucked by quills or struck by tiny
hammers. Both methods were in use in Germany by that time. The former
simulation is used here for the slower Minuet, while the latter has been
chosen for the much taster Presto.
Beethoven's clockwork music was commissioned for commercial use by
entrepreneurs. The three pieces listed as set 1 were discovered among the
composer's effects after his death with manuscript notes designating them
as being for mechanical organs; the order in which they are numbered was
added by a later editor and does not necessarily indicate any intended
performance order. It is believed that they were almost certainly
commissioned by Count von Deym for mechanical instruments in Müller's Art
Gallery, which he owned. Although little is known of the instruments, it
is obvious from the music that the Allegro and Scherzo were for a small,
portable, flute-like organ, while the Adagio assai would have required a
larger, stationary instrument.
Several two-part pieces by Handel, collectively entitled Ten Tunes for
Clay's Musical Clock, were discovered in 1918 in the Aylesford manuscript
collection. Charles Clay (d. 1740) was a London clockmaker who built at
least one grandfather clock with music works inside it. This clock, last
seen in the mid-19th century, was some eight feet, six inches high and
contained not only bells that could perform music but also small organ
pipes, which had fallen into disrepair and been removed. Whether or not
this is one of the clocks for which Handel composed and, if so, whether
his music was intended for the bells or organ or both is unknown. The lack
of sustaining notes in the manuscript suggests, however, the
appropriateness of bells, which are used here.
All that is known about the organ for which Cherubini wrote his Sonata is
what can be gleaned from the full title of the piece: "Sonata for Pipe
Organ Situated in the Temple of the Night in the Garden of Schönau near
Vienna Composed by Luigi Cherubini in the Year 1805." This temple,
probably of Masonic origin, was at the country home of Baron Peter Von
Braun, to whom the piece is dedicated. The music suggests that this organ
was large and stationary.
Haydn composed at least 32 pieces for small table-top, flute-like organs
designed and built in Vienna by his friend Father Primitivus Niemecz.
Three of these organs, built in 1789,1792, and 1793, survived until World
War II and are well documented. Two remain, but the 1792 organ, known as
the Urban organ after the family of Dr. Karl Urban, which owned it,
disappeared after the war, apparently during the Russian occupation of
Vienna. The four pieces presented here are among the eight written solely
for that organ and do not appear on the other two organs.
"Wellington's Victory" by Beethoven was commissioned by Johann Nepomucene
Mälzel (1772-1838) for a very large mechanical military band he had
invented (which he called a "panharmonicon," a name actually coined by
Haydn), in exchange for an ear trumpet the composer hoped would alleviate
his deafness. Mälzel built at least three of his panharmonicons--the one
"Wellington's Victory" was written for had trumpet, flute, clarinet, and
oboe organ pipes as well as timpani, triangle, cymbals, and snare and bass
drums-but the last surviving example was destroyed during World War II.
Mälzel was a scoundrel (to put it mildly) and falsely claimed to be the
inventor of the metronome, which still bears his name; he also claimed to
be the composer of this piece, which started a bitter feud between himself
and Beethoven. Because photographs of the last panharmonicon and
Beethoven's scoring for this instrument both exist, it was possible to do
what is believed to be a reasonably authentic re-creation of this piece.
This performance is of the original 1813 version for panharmonicon, which
does not contain the first movement Beethoven added three years later when
he orchestrated it for a live symphony.
An economist, writer, and computer programmer as well as a computer
musician, Christopher Light's work has appeared in publications ranging
from Creative Computing to the Journal of Political Economy. This is his
third computer music album.
David Kraehenbuehl is a retired music professor who has taught at Colorado
College, Westminster Choir College, and the Yale School of Music, where he
was Hindemith's student and later his successor as theory professor. A
pianist and flutist, he performs regularly with the LaCrosse (Wisconsin)
Symphony and is in charge of the mechanical music at the House on the Rock
in Wisconsin. He has done 17 previous albums.
The compact disc digital audio system offers the best possible sound
reproduction on a small, convenient sound-carrier unit. The compact disc's
superior performance is the result of laser-optical scanning combined with
digital playback, and is independent of the technology used in making the
original recording. This recording technology is identified on the back of
the case by one of the following three-letter codes:
DDD = digital tape recorder used during session recording, mixing and/or
editing, and mastering (transcription);
ADD = analog tape recorder used during session recording, digital tape
recorder used during subsequent mixing and/or editing and during mastering
AAD = analog tape recorder used during session recording and subsequent
mixing and/or editing, digital tape recorder used during mastering
In storing and handling the compact disc, apply the same care as for a
conventional record. No further cleaning will be necessary if the compact
disc is always held by the edges and is replaced in its case directly
after playing. Should the compact disc become soiled by fingerprints,
dust, or dirt, it can wiped (always in a straight line from center to
edge) with a clean and lint-free, soft, dry cloth. No solvent or abrasive
cleaner should ever be used on the disc. Follow these suggestions and the
compact disc will provide a lifetime of pure listening enjoyment.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2018 16:11:41 -0400
From: Patrick Feaster <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] What was the first recording of a Beethoven work?
For 1813, are you thinking of "Wellingtons Sieg" on the Panharmonicon?
(Sending offlist so as not to spoil the fun for others!)
On Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 3:47 PM, Frank Forman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> My answer is that the first recording of a work of Beethoven goes back to
> 1813, if not to 1799. Does this hint help?
> On Mon, 23 Apr 2018, Patrick Feaster wrote:
> Sometime between July 1871 and January 1872, Alfred Cornu and Ernst
>> Mercadier used a cross between a phonautograph and a string telephone to
>> record Hubert Leonard (violin) and, separately, Hippolyte-Prosper
>> (cello) playing several selections for a mathematical study of musical
>> intervals. According to the published proceedings of the French Academy
>> Sciences, one of the test selections was the opening measures of the
>> measure of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
>> But I'm sure music boxes with Beethoven works programmed on them go back
>> much further than that!
>> - Patrick
>> On Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 5:44 PM, Frank Forman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> What was the first recording of a Beethoven work?
>>> Roberto Bauer, in his Historical Records, 1898-1908/09, gives
>>> BORCHERS, Gustav, bass, 1865 Wotlwiesche-1913 Leipzig
>>> Polyphon (Brown Wax) Leipzig, 1900
>>> Catalog no. 226
>>> Der Kuss, Op. 128
>>> But what are the earlier recordings? I include everything, Berliners,
>>> cylinders, music boxes, etc. The answer will surprise you and make you
>>> wonder what you didn't think of that.
>>> Anyone have a list of web resources? I've found an excellent source,
>>> compiled by Robert Johannesson, at 78opera.com. Alas the first section,
>>> covering singers from A to part of B is missing.