The Talking Machine Forum — For All Antique Phonographs & Recordings

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 Post subject: Musical directors for early companies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:37 am 
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Victor I
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:52 am
Posts: 149
Location: Redruth, Cornwall, U.K.
I have always longed to be able to put names to the musicians who took charge of the piano and, later, orchestral accompaniments on early records. For Gramophone & Typewriter I know of Carlo Sabajno (Milan), Bruno Seidler-Winkler (Berlin) and Ivan Arkadiev (Moscow), but I have not yet been able to learn who played the same role in this company's studios in Paris, Vienna or even (most surprisingly) London. (Percy Pitt, later musical director for the B.B.C., occasionally conducted for G. & T./H.M.V., but it seems to have been usual to give his name on the label if he was involved – notably in the 1908 recordings of extracts from Wagner's Ring in English – and so presumably he was not the regular studio conductor. The same is true of Landon Ronald, later Sir Landon and a great Elgarian, who conducted for Melba in 1904.)

Fonotipia is another company whose orchestral arrangements are often highly enterprising but maddeningly anonymous. I have a Fonotipia catalogue of about 1912 which lists some orchestral recordings conducted by one R. Bracale; was this man perhaps also the conductor on this company's many fine operatic records?

Albert Ketelbey, composer of much popular light music, worked for the British branch of Columbia during the 1910s and seems to have been a very capable conductor of opera. Another light-music composer, Hubert Bath, sometimes appears on H.M.V. labels during the same period.

Then there are the various central European companies such as Parlophone, Favorite and Anker. I have seen references to Friedrich Kark and Eduard Künneke as having conducted on record in Germany, sometimes presiding over lengthy opera extracts, but I do not know who belongs to which label.

As for piano accompaniments, almost the only name I have is that of Madame Adami (forename unknown) who apparently played regularly for the Gramophone Company in London in about 1910.

If anybody can fill any of the vast gaps in my knowledge, I shall be greatly in their debt.

Oliver Mundy.


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