Paul Charosh:

> Someone --- I no longer recall who ---
> thought it would be fun to  record
> Nilsson on a cylinder

The Nilsson Cylinder

Paul Charosh sent the following to 78-l. With his permission, I am posting
it here.

In 1966, Birgit Nilsson saw a photograph of a "golden age" singer (Felia
Litvinne?) making a phonograph record by singing into a horn. I don't know
the precise sequence of events, but Geraldine Souvaine, producer of the
opera quiz, thought it would be neat to record Nilsson this way, play the
record for the experts on the opera quiz, and ask them to guess the name of
the artist. She contacted someone at RCA , asking how it might be done. That
person called Gregor Benko of the International Piano Library. He called
collector Alton F. R. Lawrence; and he called me.

They sent a car into which I loaded my Edison phonograph, several wax
cylinder blanks, a morning-glory horn, and a bird-cage stand, and off we
went to Souvaine's apartment on Central Park West. The equipment was placed
on a folding snack table, a suitable height achieved by stacking telephone

Nilsson arrived with her accompanist and sang something from Walküre into
the horn. We did it twice more and when she started to object ("I didn't
think I would have to sing so much"), decided to go for a proper take. We
made two cylinders. To do it properly with that equipment one should move
back on high or loud passsages. She moved forward. My friend Larry
(Lawrence) tried to pull her back, but she wouldn't budge. (I don't think
she appreciated being grabbed around the waist by a stranger, either ---
certainly not while singing.)

Photos were taken and I believe that one or two have been published. I know
that they are on file at the opera's archive at Lincoln Center. I show up in
some as the "recording engineer". I look like Pee Wee Herman. I requested
$250 as a fee. Souvaine explained that they would have to bump a critic from
the show if they paid me that much. They bumped the critic. We taped the
cylinder and I left with the originals. When they heard the cylinders that
Saturday the remaining critics had nothing kind to say about the soprano
whose name they were asked to guess. When told who it was, they were not

I sold the better of the cylinders to Ward Marston about two years ago. It
will end up on a CD eventually. I still have the other.

Paul also sent me a copy of one of the photos of the 26 March session; to
see it, simply click here or on Ms. Nilsson's photo at the top of this page.

The selection was, of course, "Du bist der Lenz" from Die Walküre. I offer
it here in three versions:

*    the cylinder alone (160 KB)
*    the question and answers (1350 KB)
*    a live performance (550 KB)

Best regards,

Goran Finnberg
The Mastering Room AB

E-mail: [log in to unmask]

Learn from the mistakes of others, you can never live long enough to
make them all yourself.    -   John Luther

(")_(") Smurfen:RIP