I'm not nearly in the same class as Alex or Gary and others when it comes
to knowledge of early orchestral recordings, but I do find them of great
Many years ago, I acquired a stack of Columbia 78s for 25¢ @ at a shop in
the used book district down on 4th Ave in NYC. They included several NY
Philharmonic recordings under Josef Stransky, the earliest of which dates
to 01/22/17 (according to DAHR
Perhaps due to Stransky's inferior stature, relative to Stoki and Muck, et
al, they don't seem to get brought up in discussions of orchestral
recordings in the 'teens. That this is Mahler's orchestra, less than a
decade after his departure, makes it fascinating listening for me. I know,
the reductions of the number of musicians playing and the awkwardness that
are part of the acoustic process wreaked havoc on the sound and playing of
the orchestra, but still. Many of you probably are well aware of it
already, but I thought I'd mention that a good companion to listening to
these discs is the oral history Columbia LP of several veterans of the two
seasons that Mahler was at the helm of the NY Phil. It is William Malloch's
1964 "I remember Mahler".
<https://archive.org/details/I_Remember_Mahler_1964>, which also has Anna
Mahler talking about her father as a bonus. Alma was around until the end
of 1964, but was not included in this recording project. From all that I
have read about her, it is probably just as well.
Not the earliest, not the greatest, mostly second- and third-rate music,
but I think very important recordings.
On Sat, Nov 20, 2021 at 7:17 PM Alex McGehee <[log in to unmask]>
> Nice comments Gary. Maybe others have mentioned that the Brahms Hungarian
> Dance No. 5 wasn’t even by Brahms. It was the work of the Hungarian
> composer Béla Kéler. I think Brahms thought he had a traditional folksong
> on his hands. The Brahms version was written for piano four hands, and god
> knows how much of his own orchestral thinking Stokowski put into the Victor
> My main objection to its inclusion is that this work was endlessly
> programmed for concerts from its publication to the date of this Victor
> recording. An old chestnut if ever there was one. It represents lazy
> thinking in the classical music repertoire to choose it, if I might say so.
> Far worthier would be the near complete version of Haydn’s Symphony No.
> 94, recorded in Victor’s Camden, New Jersey studio on the 11th and 12th of
> Nov. 1912. Yeah, I know it’s a chestnut now too, but a century ago Haydn
> was finally emerging from more than a century’s worth of neglect. He’s
> certainly a greater composer than Brahms and before someone gets angry,,
> consider that appraisal was by Brahms himself.
> An even more noteworthy recording would be Victor’s release of Haydn’s
> Symphony No. 100, Walter B. Rogers (Victor’s house conductor) and the
> Victor Concert Orchestra. UCSB gives the dates as June 5, 1913 and Oct. 28,
> 1915. Both symphonies suffer abridgments and are the arrangements of
> Theodore Moses Tobani, done primarily for purposes related to the technical
> limitations of the acoustical recording process with full orchestral
> forces. So with Symphony 100, the slow introduction is jettisoned, but the
> rest of the first movement is complete. Twenty bars from the second
> movement are cut, but they are somewhat a repetition of the movement's
> first 20 bars, so the movement seems as if it is complete to most
> listeners. The third and fourth movements are both complete.
> Back to the Brahms. I know it sounds really great, but so do these Haydn
> recordings and they were done years earlier than the Brahms. They are also
> of far greater significance in the early recordings of concert repertoire.
> I haven’t found sound files for No. 94, except for its second movement,
> which UCSB has. Neither UCSB or the National Jukebox has anything from No.
> 100, but the British Library has all of it and it sounds wonderful.
> And if I may land one more punch for Haydn, Pol Plançon sounds a lot
> better in Air du laboureur ( trans. French) from Haydn’s Jahreszeiten:
> Schon eilet froh der Ackermann than he does on the ARSC acoustic list with
> Couplets du tambour-major. That’s just my opinion, but you can hear it for
> yourself on UCSB’s website <
> Pre-holiday cheers to all,
> Alex McGehee
> ARSC Membership Committee, chair
> > On Nov 9, 2021, at 1:31 PM, Gary A. Galo <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > I have a couple of comments about this compilation, and I'm sure other
> members will have some of their own.
> > Stokowski's Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5 was not the first recording of
> a full symphony orchestra, not even on Victor, and not even in the United
> States. Karl Muck and the Boston Symphony Orchestra made their first
> records for Victor 3 weeks before Stokowski, because Stokowski initially
> rejected Victor's offer to make records. The first was the 4th movement of
> Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony, and utilized the entire Boston Symphony
> Orchestra. The dates can be confirmed on DAHR. And, Charles Prince
> conducted an orchestra of 90 players for Columbia performing Wagner's
> Rienzi Overture in February of 1917. Again, DAHR can confirm the date and
> the number of musicians involved (the number is also given on the record
> > Also, though some might view it as a technicality, Vesti la Giubba is
> not a song, it's an opera aria.
> > Best,
> > Gar
> > Gary Galo
> > Audio Engineer Emeritus
> > The Crane School of Music
> > SUNY at Potsdam, NY 13676
> > "Great art presupposes the alert mind of the educated listener."
> > Arnold Schoenberg
> > "A true artist doesn't want to be admired, he wants to be believed."
> > Igor Markevitch