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 Post subject: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 12:19 am 
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Victor IV
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I have a bunch of classical records that came out in 1938 and later, and were sold in grocery stores and variety stores at low prices. Some of them say Philharmonic Transcription, or World's Greatest Music, or World's Greatest Operas. Some of them have a blue label with wheat or grain design on the label. Others came out with the bust of the composer on the label. I was playing some of them and they sound like very good performances with good clear sound. The labels do not indicate who the performers are or even the name of the orchestra. Does anyone know who the performers and orchestras are on these and what record company pressed these records. I was told once that these are great records to play on your old Orthophonic machine as they sound good. In the 1950's, a set of boxed LP albums came out also called The World's Greatest Music in dark green albums. I remember them in our house in the 1960's, but I don't know if they are connected to the 78 rpm versions.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:49 pm 
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Victor VI
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I forget the exact details, but some of the performances are by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, also Fritz Reiner & Artur Rodzinski. Here is some info from the web: "A complete discography of both this series and "The World's Greatest Opera"
discs was published in the ARSC Journal in the 1970s. You may be able to find
it in a public or university library.

Some highlights of WGM attributions that I can recall OTTOHM:

Reiner/NYP: Wagner: Die Meistersinger - Prelude to Act I and Parsifal - Prelude
to Act I

Ormandy/PO: Bach: Brandenburg Concertos 2 and 3; Mozart: Symphony No. 40;
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5; Brahms: Symphony No. 2

Rodzinski/NBC SO: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4; Franck: Symphony in D Minor

Stiedtry/New Friends of Music O: Haydn: Symphony No. 99; Tchaikovsky:
Nutcracker Suite.

These were all recorded in late 1938/early 1939, IIRC, and used reduced
personnel, generally in large halls. (Rodzinski's NBC discs were done in
Carnegie a couple years before RCA moved Toscanini's recording sessions there.)"


There are some excellent performances to be found on them, as is true of the later LP sets sold in supermarkets & such.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:30 pm 
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Victor IV
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Thanks Estott for that information. I wonder if the 1958 LPs that came out through The New Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia were just a recycling of the 1938-39 recordings? Since the LPs are mono recordings in an age of stereo, this is a possibility. I think the LP sets were sold through subscriptions from magazine ads. I know that since my mom got some of these albums, they were my first venture into hearing classical music when I was about 12 or 13. There was also another similar set in red boxes of classical LPs put out in 16 volumes called the Philharmonic Family Library of Great Music, edited by Joseph Machlis, a music professor and author at Queen's College. There is no date on this set, but it looks like it's from the '50s also, and it is also all mono recordings. I have no idea where it got its recordings, or if it is connected to the World's Greatest Music records.

It looks like Allen Sutton and Kurt Nauck's information from American Record Labels and Companies is slightly off. They say that the World's Greatest Music label published records in 1941-42 for Music Appreciation Products, Inc. I do have one record pressed in 1941 titled World's Greatest Symphonies with the title above saying Music Appreciation Records.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:48 pm 
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Victor IV
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:55 am
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Location: Eugene/ Springfield Oregon USA
Then there were the green label "Masterpiece" pressings...


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:16 pm 
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Victor V
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Location: Northeast Pennsylvania
I don't have any historical information about the company or the series, but I would assume that they might have been available through a subscription, similar to the Musical Heritage Society ?


I have a number of these WGM / WGO albums from the 1940's ,some with the blue-background labels, and others with the very lovely cream-colored labels with a head image of the composer.


In general, the performances on these discs sound very good.

The quality of the album binder itself is modest: the envelopes hold up pretty well, but the covers are very simple and the end boards somewhat more flexible than Victor or Columbia albums of the same era.
De Soto Frank


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:31 am 
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Victor IV
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Yes, they are kind of like the paperback editions of the albums, whereas the Victor and Columbia albums were the hardbacks. Victor did press budget versions of classical music with less well known conductors and orchestras on black labels with flimsy stiff boards for album covers. I have a few of these. It was their albums for budget minded buyers.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:14 pm 
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Victor I
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:49 pm
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I have quite a few of these actually, including Beethoven 5, 6 and 9, and the Brandenburg concertos. But I would think the same applies here as to even the higher priced symphonic sets that there usually isn't much collectible value, or particular musical value regarding otherwise lost/obscure performers or performance practice, as there is for chamber and operatic 78s. Is this true or are is it worth looking out for more?


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:31 am 
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Victor IV
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Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:29 am
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Location: Temecula, CA
Yes, you are right in thinking these are records that usually go to the dumpster, or are given away. Their money value is virtually nil. Their musical value is high to me, but not to many others. The nice thing about these records is you can play them with your heavy tonearm or pickup without worrying about wearing out an expensive record. Someone above also mentioned the green label records called "A Best Loved Famous Music presentation". Whereas the Philharmonic Transcription series dealt almost exclusively in symphonies, with the exception of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto, and highlights from great operas, the Famous Music series deals almost exclusively in tone poems, ballet suites, and overtures. Examples include ballet music from Gounod's Faust; Spanish Caprice by Rimsky-Korsakov; and Dance of the Hours by Ponchielli. I think the Famous Music series of records came out later in the 40s, but that is a guess.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:54 pm 
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Victor O
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If you do a Google search for "world's greatest music arsc" you'll get a link to a discography listing all the WGM and WGO sets and the artists--or, in the case of the WGO sets, at least educated guesses at the artists--who made them. This may also get you there:

www.arsc-audio.org/journals/v7/v07n1-2p33-55.pdf

Also included is a brief essay about the project that spawned them. I've seen a much more in-depth discussion in an excerpt a friend sent me from what I'm pretty sure was Allan Sutton's Recording the Thirties from Mainspring Press.

I have a complete run of both series, and a couple of years back I undertook a project for my own pleasure to copy all and edit out the side breaks as appropriate. What I found was that the things may be common as fleas (although not, I think, as much as they used to be), but they are on balance well recorded and preserve some really excellent, and sometimes ear-opening, music-making. For example, up to that point I'd never really counted Eugene Ormandy as one of my "top rank" conductors, but upon revisiting after many years his white-hot WGM account of the Beethoven 5th Sym., which as it happens was one of my first 78 RPM sets when I started collecting, suddenly I heard exactly why the Philadelphia Or. went to lengths to recruit him. Note, too, Fritz Reiner's contributions to the series, albeit anonymous, were his first commercially issued recordings. As to the WGO sets, they preserve some really lovely singing by artists not always well represented on commercial records (e.g., Arthur Carron) or caught at the outset of what would develop into important careers (e.g., Eleanor Steber). They also by and large do surprisingly well at capturing the essence of the operas selected in very few record sides; only the Faust set struck me as something of a failure.

On a related topic, might I offer a quiet plea about classical sets? Every time I see somebody write "old classical sets are worthless" or otherwise express contempt for them in an Internet discussion like this, I cringe. Yeah, to those whose musical world centers on '20s pop or jazz or whatnot, they are not of much interest, and finding a home for them can be a bit challenging sometimes, but some of us out here do collect and cherish them, and I just know some child of the CD or streaming age with an inherited garage or attic full of rare symphony sets that I'd give my eye teeth to own is going to check the Web, blunder across "old classical sets are worthless," and send them off to the dump or make fruit bowls out of them. Sure, not every old classical set is a treasure, but then, neither is every Hawaiian ditty, rube comedy sketch, or run-of-the-mill commercial tune from the Cameo Dance Orchestra. Sometimes an old record is just an old record; sometimes it's something, or a lot, more. Lord knows it's tempting when you fall heir to your 27th copy of Artur Rubinstein playing the Grieg Concerto on Victor DM 900, but I think it behooves all of us to avoid "dumping" on classes of records we don't happen to collect, lest the uninformed be misled into destroying something of at least musical value. (For instance, omnipresent as it was in boxes of 78s at every garage sale, that Grieg concerto recording had no reissue in a modern format until the complete Rubinstein CD box came out 10 years back or so, meaning for the better part of 70 years, those who wanted to hear that important artist performing a signature work at that point in his career had no choice but to rely on those "worthless" classical 78s.)


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 Post subject: Re: What is the origin of the World's Greatest Music records
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:03 pm 
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Victor IV
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Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:52 pm
Posts: 1843
Mainspring Press.

Recent posting on this subject : https://78records.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/new-•-the-worlds-greatest-music-discography-rca-victor-series-revised-expanded-by-john-bolig/


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