On Tue, 21 Feb 2006, Mike Richter wrote:

> I have a friend with a priceless collection of recordings he made fifty
> to sixty years ago. One of his jobs was as audio director for what was
> to become NBC-TV. (Another was playing fiddle in Toscanini's band, but
> that's several other stories.) He is a perfectionist in transferring his
> tapes and will let no one else handle them, but at his age and with the
> obligations he has assumed - and those his wife has assumed for him -
> his output is a trickle. He has already lost a substantial number of
> recordings to a 'flood of the century' and is in danger of losing more.
> Are those tapes worthy of archival transfer? By my judgement, they are
> and at far better than 44/16. But they must be transferred while he is
> still alive since I've no confidence that his widow will rescue them if
> he predeceases her. Between ideal digitizing and getting something onto
> disc, I have no doubt which is more pressing.

Sounds like there is a potential for a tragic situation to evolve.

I am reminded of the collection of Robert Buchsbaum. Mr. Buchsbaum
(Coronet Records), as a college student,(c.1939-1945)  recorded several
thousand 16 inch lacquer discs of radio broadcasts of the major performing
organizations...MET, Chicago SO, NY Phil, Boston Sym. etc. While he was
alive I kept asking him to either loan or dub his recordings. On a few
rare occasions he did loan a recording (to the NY Phil) and once made some
dubs for the Chicago Symphony (the Hofmann performance of the Beethoven
5th Concerto and a few others).

He kept working until late in life and had dubbed only a
few of his discs. Shortly after he retired, he agreed to make some of
the material available to me. Then his wife got ill and died, and then
he died. When he died the family put the collection in storage.
The storage area flooded and many discs were lost. Only recently was the
collection acquired by someone who was willing to "do right" by the
materials. Some of the remaining discs, according to the information
I have, were unplayable.

I can understand someone wanting to "do it themselves." But for me, the
recordings you mention above...well, I guess I feel like they really
belong to history and not just one person.

And, on the other hand, were they to be donated to some archive, nobody
will probably be able to hear them unless they lived next door to the
archive...assuming the archive transferred the recordings before they
became unplayable.

I hope the person you mention has his will set up so he will make sure the
discs are given to someone who would be willing to finish the
transfers...and share them with collectors if at all possible...