Skip to comments.From a vault in Paris: The sound of opera in 1907
Posted on 02/16/2009 10:38:46 PM PST by Cincinna
a group of bewhiskered men gathered in the bowels of the Paris Opera to launch a project which, by definition, they could never see to fruition. First, 24 carefully-wrapped wax records were placed inside two lead and iron containers. These were then sealed and locked away in a small storage room, with instructions that they remain undisturbed for 100 years.
The man behind this musical time-capsule was Alfred Clark, a New Yorker who headed the London-based Gramophone Company and provided the records. And, in truth, once the ceremony was over, he had achieved his primary objective of drawing attention to his company and to the new flat disc records that it was promoting to compete with better known cylinder records.
"I know of no other case where a commercial firm has obtained so much free publicity as we have," he wrote to a colleague two days later.
The Paris Opera displayed a more elevated sense of history. Through this selection of opera arias and instrumental pieces, it announced, future generations could discover the musical taste and the quality of sound recording of the early 20th century.
French officials also predicted radical changes in recording technology. So, in 1912, when they added 24 records and two more containers to the trove, they included a new hand-cranked gramophone, along with instructions on how it worked and a score of spare stylus needles.
The 100 years were up more than a year ago and, after lengthy examination, cleaning and digitizing of the records, EMI, the heir to the Gramophone Company, is reissuing them in three CD's. The collection will be released in France later this month as "Les Urnes de l'Opéra" and in the United States in early April with the English subtitle, "Treasures from the Paris Opera Vaults."
(Excerpt) Read more at iht.com ...
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You might be one of the very few FReepers who might appreciate this.
Thanks Lexinom. I really do appreciate Poulenc.
You would be astonished as to how many music lovers there are here at FR.
But how can that be ? I thought we were gun toting, Bible holding, tobacco chewing, pickup truck driving.. philistine hicks.
I guarantee you there’s more real music on one of those discs than there was represetned on that cruddy Grammy fiasco.
Any lover of orchestral music must check out the book THE REST IS NOISE: LISTENING TO THE 20TH CENTURY by Alex Ross. It is an amazing and amazingly enjoyable look at the sound of 20th century orchestral music. It’s one of those books you open to read a few pages, and you look up 100 pages later and it’s after midnight.
That does sound interesting. I was an accomplished amateur pianist at one time (have some recordings on the Web), but the stress of current realities has sucked the joy and desire necessary for music out of my soul.
I bet you would enjoy this book. It’s some of the very best writing about music I’ve ever read because he makes you want to hear the pieces he’s writing about, but he never forgets the larger picture, how the composers got along with and were inspired by each other, how the public and critics reacted, and how as the century progressed composers got away from 19th century romanticism and moved towards atonal and serial writing. It’s a unique book because I enjoy the writing even if I don’t agree with his enthusiasm for certain types of music.
I just couldn't get into 20th century orchestral music. I mean the Mahler's and the Bruckner's and the likes. Mahler's #1 is ok, but the rest is not for me. Give me good old classical to mid Romantic any day.
I agree—which is why I am enjoying this book. If it can make ME interested in serial music, it’s got something going on.
Oh my gosh, that got me on a 1/2 hour wasted listening to Cello... etc. Youtube must be an enemy tactic to keep people from their work....
Mischa Maisky He’s so good. Wow.
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“I just couldn’t get into 20th century orchestral music. I mean the Mahler’s and the Bruckner’s and the likes. Mahler’s #1 is ok, but the rest is not for me. Give me good old classical to mid Romantic any day.”
The same here.
‘You would be astonished as to how many music lovers there are here at FR.’
Well, I was drunk the day my Mom got outta prison.
And I went to pick her up in the rain.
But, before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got runned over by a damned old train.
“You would be astonished as to how many music lovers there are here at FR.”
The only thing better than bad Opera is good Opera.
Bruckner died in 1896 so it’s hard to say he was a 20th century composer. :-) The 1870s is too modern for you? That’s when Bruckner was already writing his great work.
I met Ross at a lecture and he signed a copy of that book for me. His next book is apparently a study of how Wagner influenced pop culture. Everything from ‘Lord of the Rings’ to Heavy Metal.
That sounds interesting. Wagner truly is a huge influence on pop culture, his idea of an all-encompassing artform sure is appealing to a lot of filmmakers who can’t achieve that.
BTW, what did you think of the book?
Let's say Bruckner's music was advanced for his time :) .. like Beethoven's late quartets were for their's.
That reminds me of what Orson Welles (I’ve been studying him lately, have read a dozen books about him in the last two months) said about directing and other arts, how youth and old age are when the best works are created. He pointed to conductors—Stokowski, and a couple others—who were in their prime in their late 70’s and 80’s.
This will be very interesting to hear.
I think what will surprise a lot of modern opera listeners will be the size of the voices. We have grown so accustomed to every role being sung by powerhouse voices - I think we will hear a much different type of voice at the turn of the last century.
It was. Do you dislike Wagner and Mussorgsky who were also proto Modernists?
There’s a collection of vintage recordings that actually have Tchaikovsky’s voice on it. I never knew he had been recorded.
And Wagner’s music was the primary influences on film scoring.
Yeah, with the influx of European composers around WW2, you heard a lot of that Wagnerian leitmotif stuff.
Am a huge film music fan, btw.
That would be interesting to hear!
I actually love old opera recordings - Mary Garden and the like.
Thanks for the pink sitetest. :)
Jerry Goldsmith once said he didn’t use that method because he didn’t think the audience could absorb that many themes while watching a movie. He chose the “theme and variations” approach. While I enjoy much of Williams’ output, Goldsmith has always been my favorite. His scores have a cohesion that is startling, and then when you examine what he’s doing, he’s taking ONE theme and putting it through these variations you “get” but don’t really understand unless you think about it. (The love theme in his score for FIRST KNIGHT, for example, is the main theme played in a different key and tempo.)
The arts will never be the same.
>I’m sure all true opera lovers are thrilled, excited and generally wetting their pants in anticipation of “An Inconvenient Truth”, <
Does everyone burst into flames in the last scene while singing the requisite high C’s??
That is really good, interesting composition. I had never heard it before!
It reminds me of Rachmaninoff. It’s a little discordant for me but still enough of a melody to follow. Thanks for the link!
Now that’s music. Ahhh....
The late great Steve Goodman!
Doc Severinson was supposed to conduct the Phoenix Symphony one time but he got sick and had to cancel. Instead, they got Bill Conti to conduct. He was VERY interesting and a great conductor. Although, we did have to hear “The Theme from Rocky” several times. He had some very funny stories.
I find Conti underrated as a composer. He’s capable of great stuff—his theme for the miniseries NORTH AND SOUTH and his (derivative but fun) score for THE RIGHT STUFF are terrific. He scored an IMAX movie about the Grand Canyon that was the best score I’ve heard for an IMAX movie, just magnificent along with the visuals of the camera swooping through the canyon.
Wagner is one of my top favorites ! I have tons of preludes and overtures on SACD — which is pure listening joy. I also have the complete ‘Ring’ cycle (Met/Levine) which I may have listened to only once or twice.
Mussorgsky — eh. Most Russians, other than Tchaikovsky, were known for only one or two pieces that made them famous. As for 20th century composers, I think most were short on talent, long on ‘experimentation’. New Age does music did not equal high quality.