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Great article on Ward and his sound  restoration in today's Wall St. Journal. 
Text is below. It mentions other  engineers like Seth Winner and Mark 
Obert-Thorn. 
They did an interesting color  charicature of him which I scanned and posted 
at:  _http://tinyurl.com/84jxb_ (http://tinyurl.com/84jxb)  
Enjoy! 
Steve Ramm 
Ward Marston: Audio  Resurrectionist 
By BARRYMORE  LAURENCE SCHERER 
August 25, 2005; Page D8 
"Every generation has its own way of performing classical music,  and 
recordings have documented evolving performance practice for more than a  century," 
observes record producer and recording engineer Ward Marston.  "Therefore old 
recordings represent an important link to the history of  performance 
practice." Antique records are not just Mr. Marston's passion as a  collector -- he is 
widely regarded as one of the best in the business of  remastering historic 
recordings for digital reproduction. 
Best known as "78s," these heavy black shellac discs, which spun  at 78 rpm 
on millions of phonograph turntables, were the standard format of  commercial 
recording from around 1900 until the introduction of the vinyl LP in  1948. To 
a majority of music lovers in the world of CDs and MP3 downloads, 78s  and the 
old phonographs that play them are relics, equivalent to Model Ts and  steam 
locomotives. Embedded in their grooves, however, are many decades of music  
and music-making -- from Heifetz, Rachmaninoff and Caruso to Ellington,  
Armstrong and Parker. And it is to the contents of those fragile discs,  particularly 
classical ones, that Mr. Marston, 53, has dedicated himself. 
Restoring life to the shades of the past is an almost quixotic  ideal in a 
world increasingly losing touch with history. But Mr. Marston feels  strongly 
that these discs embody a living tradition of musical performance  extending 
much further back in time than the discs themselves. "One of my  favorite 
pianists is Benno Moiseiwitsch, who recorded in the 1920s," he says.  "Around 1910 he 
had been a pupil of Theodore Leschetizky, who had studied around  1850 with 
Carl Czerny, who had been the pupil of Beethoven around 1800." Mr.  Marston 
points out that this kind of lineage was important to the pedagogy of  
Moiseiwitsch's time. Unlike today, when musicology rules performance practice  with an 
iron hand, musicology in 1920 was in its relative infancy, and mainly  
concerned with Medieval music rather than core concert repertoire. The  performer, 
rather than the scholar, was the final arbiter of taste, and a  lineage such as 
Moiseiwitsch's lent authority to his interpretations, whether of  Beethoven or 
any of the great composers. 
Mr. Marston's love affair with music and 78s dates to early  childhood. His 
father owned a small record collection of famous classical  pieces, which the 
boy had memorized by age three. At four he began teaching  himself piano. At 
that time record collectors were replacing their shellac with  new vinyl. 
"People began to give me 78s, and, when I was seven, close friends of  my parents 
gave me around 100 album sets of Toscanini, Stokowski and chamber  music." In 
the heyday of 78s, a full symphony or string quartet normally took up  four or 
five double-faced discs, so this collection comprised 400 to 500  records. 
Today, Mr. Marston's home, in a Philadelphia suburb, is a  veritable 
Aladdin's cave housing about 35,000 78s. Many of these have made their  way onto CDs 
on a variety of historic labels -- among them BMG, Biddulph,  Andante, Naxos -- 
as well as his own Marston label, which he and his business  partner, Scott 
Kessler, launched in 1996 (_www.marstonrecords.com_ 
(http://www.marstonrecords.com/) ). Pianists and  singers dominate his current releases, including volume 
eight of "The Complete  Josef Hofmann," volume one of "The Complete Leopold 
Godowsky," and "Mary Lewis:  The Golden Haired Soprano," documenting the career 
of an overshadowed American  charmer who died prematurely in 1941. 
In sound restoration, the most important issues are basic ones.  "The digital 
process can do miracles, but not unless you get the good basic  sound, so 
before you start you make sure you have the best obtainable source. I  will use 
as many as four, five, or six copies of an original. I often use not  only 
individual disks from different sets, but a portion of a disc from one set  then 
go back to another disc for the rest of the side. You have to do a lot of  
tricky maneuvering." 
Because early clockwork recording machinery was variable, not all  78s played 
exactly at 78 rpm and playback pitch can vary from recording to  recording. 
Old shellac produced its own surface noise, but digitally removing  too much in 
transferring is like over-cleaning an old master painting until you  lose 
detail. Judicious restraint is the operative term, lest the music emerge  
unfocused. 
Prior to digital remastering, transfers of 78s would be laid onto  magnetic 
tape and literally edited by cutting and splicing. Digital technology  has 
replaced tape with mouse-driven computer screens, a great boon for most, but  one 
that poses technical problems for Mr. Marston -- he has been blind since  
birth. "In the analog days I could splice tape as easily as any sighted  
engineer," he says. "Now I sometimes hire an assistant to do the hand work for  me, but 
a few software companies are beginning to make products more manageable  for 
blind users." 
Sound restoration is as competitive as any profession, but Mr.  Marston 
regards his leading colleagues as friends rather than rivals. "It's hard  to say 
what distinguishes my transfer work from that of Seth [Winner] or Mark  
[Obert-Thorn] or from Brian Cripp or Roger Beardsley in England. We each have  our own 
platonic ideal of what a transfer should sound like." 
When not immersed in the world of historic sound, Mr. Marston  also maintains 
a parallel career as a professional jazz pianist and band leader,  something 
he has done since high school. He filled in on occasion for Bobby  Short at 
the Cafe Carlyle, and has performed in venues around the world,  including a 
White House dinner-dance during the Reagan years. 
Noting that he no longer plays classical piano, Mr. Marston cites  jazz 
greats like Art Tatum and Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and  Erroll 
Garner as important influences. "So, if I feel I am becoming stale in one  
profession, the other rejuvenates me." 
Mr. Scherer writes about classical music for the  Journal.