Jump to content


Photo

James Collis Bird - 1898 Concertina Record


  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#19 Mike Franch

Mike Franch

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 464 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Baltimore Md. USA

Posted 01 May 2015 - 02:06 PM

Just looking at some of these old titles is a nice reminder that yes, indeed, we occasionally do make some progress.

#20 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 May 2015 - 06:15 PM

I am not a concertina-player, but I do know a thing or two about the early discs, so I thought it worthwhile to put in a few 'tuppence-worths' about points already raised -- and I've joined the forum on that basis. :)

 

Hi Peter, and welcome to the fray!

 

The December 1946 'Daily Mail' article quoted by Peter Honri is, frankly,  a bit of a mess: how much was garbled by Percy H, how much by Fred Gaisberg, and how much by Christopher Stone is open to speculation, of course.

 

It certainly sounds to be seriously flawed, though I think Wes and I were already coming to that conclusion - but the piano actually being a Steinway, rather than the Bechstein cited, could be good news because it might be possible to find a reference to it in that firm's ledgers and hence establish the date on which it was delivered.
 

And 'Happy Darkies' is probably the piece by Arthur Godfrey (1892), not the outcome of a 'jam session'

 

Perhaps Percy Honri already knew the piece and had arranged it for his concertina, and Fred Gaisberg vamped an extemporised accompaniment on the piano, spontaneously creating their own duet arrangement of it - that might be considered a 'jam session'...
 

Since I saw the physical records at Kew in 1995, the passenger lists have become garbled, at least online and possible also physically, presumably at the time of digitisation.  My mother always used to say that you mustn't believe everything you read in newspapers; but it is true also of things online, even (alas) from National Archives, it would seem. ... :(

 

That would certainly explain the confusion and contradictory evidence that was puzzling me - though it's pretty horrifying to find that what should be 100% reliable information, being from the National Archives, is so unreliable. :huh:


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 25 May 2015 - 08:15 AM.


#21 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 May 2015 - 06:26 PM

Just looking at some of these old titles is a nice reminder that yes, indeed, we occasionally do make some progress.

 

I've said it before Mike, in a different context, but words can, and often do, change their meanings and/or their correctness, over time and/or in different countries - so what seems "racist" or unacceptable to us today didn't necessarily have the same connotations a century or so ago.

 

Indeed, in my own lifetime I've seen the words "negro" (which, in my experience, used to be the "proper" or "academic" term) and "black" (which used to be considered impolite and/or racist) reversed in both usage and meaning, though the original meaning of both is actually the same (in Spanish and English respectively)...

 

Edited to add; the words "over time and/or in different countries", "necessarily" and "though the original meaning of both is actually the same (in Spanish and English respectively)" for clarification.


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 02 May 2015 - 04:46 AM.


#22 Mike Franch

Mike Franch

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 464 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Baltimore Md. USA

Posted 01 May 2015 - 08:42 PM

Just looking at some of these old titles is a nice reminder that yes, indeed, we occasionally do make some progress.

 
I've said it before Mike, in a different context, but words can, and often do, change their meanings and/or their correctness - so what seems "racist" or unacceptable to us today didn't have the same connotations a century or so ago.
 
Indeed, in my own lifetime I've seen the words "negro" (which, in my experience, used to be the "proper" or "academic" term) and "black" (which used to be considered impolite and/or racist) reversed in both usage and meaning...


Yes, "Negro" (upper case, please) was once the common term, by members of the group and by the community at large. The same thing can be said for "Colored"--as for example, the National Association for Colored People. And yes, whites often did use such terms as "darkies" and "coons" with complete comfort, but you will not find members of that group, except perhaps ironically, refer to themselves by those terms. Even in the context of the day, those were loaded terms.

This doesn't mean that they might not be worthy tunes, but these are not innocent titles.

I suppose the analogous situation would be the music hall (and other popular entertainment) depiction of Irish, Scots, and Jews, which was perfectly acceptable to the "general" culture of the day but was (and still is) offensive to the target groups.

Edited by Mike Franch, 01 May 2015 - 08:44 PM.


#23 JimLucas

JimLucas

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10127 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Denmark

Posted 02 May 2015 - 12:51 AM

I suppose the analogous situation would be the music hall (and other popular entertainment) depiction of Irish, Scots, and Jews, which was perfectly acceptable to the "general" culture of the day but was (and still is) offensive to the target groups.


Don't forget the Germans, also widely stereotyped and parodied, at least in America.



#24 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 02 May 2015 - 04:45 AM

Guys, I could reply to you at length, but this is a very interesting and important thread in the history of the concertina and sound recording and I'd rather stay on topic and not get dragged off onto a potentially divisive (minefield!) discussion of the semantics of racial terminology and racial stereotyping. :(



#25 JimLucas

JimLucas

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10127 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Denmark

Posted 02 May 2015 - 05:35 AM

Guys, I could reply to you at length, but this is a very interesting and important thread in the history of the concertina and sound recording and I'd rather stay on topic and not get dragged off onto a potentially divisive (minefield!) discussion of the semantics of racial terminology and racial stereotyping. :(

 

Agreed!



#26 wes williams

wes williams

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 787 posts
  • Location:Somerset,UK

Posted 03 May 2015 - 03:01 PM

Thanks Peter,

 

We always welcome expert advice, and for someone of your standing and experience to chip in is very gratifying.

 

I've looked around for more information, taking into account the issue date of Fred Gaisberg's passport, the time taken for for the transatlantic trip at that time, etc, etc, and from those timings it appears that this recording must have been made in the week immediately after Fred's Sunday arrival, which doesn't add up because most of this week was taken up with Fred acquiring the chemicals, etc that he needed. Something has gone amiss in the accounts of this recording, but its difficult - if not impossible - to put a finger on it.

 

But back to the original query - do you have any further suggestions of where Nick Collis Bird might look for an audio copy of his gt-grandfather's recording?

 

best wishes .. wes



#27 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 03 May 2015 - 10:30 PM

I see the source of Friedman's assertion about recording starting on 8th August, 1898 must be Fred Gaisberg's first notebook - so I'll start looking to see if I can find out where Percy Honri was around that time, since that could establish if it was even possible for him to have recorded then.

 

The Era for 30th July 1898 reviews Percy Honri "quite a master of that much-abused instrument, the concertina" appearing at Gatt's (Charing Cross) the preceding week, but his advertisement in the same edition states he will be performing at the Empire, Swansea, for the following week, then Cardiff, Nottingham, Bristol etc.. So he seems to have left London, on tour, just as Freddie Gaisberg was landing in Liverpool.

 

The edition for Saturday 6th August makes mention of him playing in Swansea that week, and the following one he played the Empire, Cardiff, mentioned in the 13th August edition, so it sounds like he was probably in South Wales when recording started - which would seem to rule out a fortuitous encounter with Gaisberg in Maiden Lane, London, at that time...   :unsure:

 

The week ending 20th he was in Nottingham, but he advertised himself as "At Liberty Aug. 22nd and 29th."

 

The Era for 10th September mentions "Percy Honri displays marked abilltv as a concertina player" performing in Bristol, whilst that for 24th September announces that "MR PERCY HONRI, concertinist, will give his first recital at the St. James' Great Hall [London] on Thursday next." So it would seem that Percy returned to London after his week in Bristol, hence attending his first (confirmed) recording session at Maiden Lane on 15th September, and was still there for his second (confirmed) one on 21st.


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 07 May 2015 - 11:08 AM.


#28 Rod

Rod

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1046 posts

Posted 04 May 2015 - 01:36 AM

....." that much-abused instrument, the concertina ".....

I wonder if they were referring to those who played it or to the attitude of the general public. Quite possibly both. !

#29 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 04 May 2015 - 08:39 AM

....." that much-abused instrument, the concertina ".....

I wonder if they were referring to those who played it or to the attitude of the general public. Quite possibly both. !

 

There's evidence that in the latter part of the 19th century the image of the instrument became tarnished by rowdy players of cheap German concertinas, so that they came to be seen as a "nuisance" - much like "ghetto blasters" in more recent times (quoting from an old post that I made in 2007):

 

The bulk of evidence is that the backbone of the concertina trade (in sheer numbers) was the German and Anglo-German concertina....in the US, in Ireland, and even in England. A 1907 interview with an Englishwoman named Hawkes, a high class type who played the EC, derided the "cheap German atrocities with which Bank Holidays make us all too familiar"...


Christina Hawkes' comment should probably be considered not simply as snobbishness, but in the context of other contemporary evidence:

By the 1880s the image of the (English) concertina as a "serious" instrument had been badly tarnished by association with the cheap German instrument and rowdy players of it. In 1889 George Bernard Shaw in praising the English concertina, wrote that it was not to be confused with "the Teutonic instrument of the midnight Mohawk" (notice the fleeing cat and watching policeman in the background of the picture of a trio of "midnight Mohawks" below):

Midnight_Mohawks.jpg

By the 1890s the reputation of the concertina had fallen so low that the subject of calling the English instrument something other than "concertina" was being seriously discussed by teachers and manufacturers (and hence the introduction of new "artistic" models called not "concertina" but Æola and Edeophone). The image of the German concertina "disturbing the peace" in that era could perhaps be compared to the "ghetto blaster" of more recent times, as witnessed by these (and other) turn-of-the-century postcards from my collection:

b66f_1_b.jpgSeasideconcertina-edit.jpg

And note the association with the consumption of Bass' beer in both these pictures! (Nothing new there then... wink.gif)

Whereas the next one is less specific about the alcohol imbibed (but probably the demon gin):

ShallIbeanAngel.jpg

 


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 04 May 2015 - 05:37 PM.


#30 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 05 May 2015 - 01:18 PM

... the piano actually being a Steinway could be good news because it might be possible to find a reference to it in that firm's ledgers and hence establish the date on which it was delivered.

 

So I've sent an email to David Widdicombe, Technical Services Manager, Steinway & Sons London, to see if they can help shed any light on matters...



#31 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 06 May 2015 - 09:02 AM

... I've sent an email to David Widdicombe, Technical Services Manager, Steinway & Sons London, to see if they can help shed any light on matters...

 

And he has already replied to me today:

 

Dear Stephen

 

Thank you for your email and for telling me about such an interesting historical project. The only records that we have that go back that far are the original sales ledgers from Steinway Hall. Unfortunately without the serial number, or any information regarding the owner, or date of purchase, it will be difficult to determine the exact instrument that was used.

 

You are most welcome to come to Steinway Hall and look through our record books if you wish. Please let me know and we will arrange a suitable date.

 

So it sounds like a trip to London is called for...



#32 pga

pga

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Scotland

Posted 12 May 2015 - 08:09 AM

It would be good to find a Steinway ledger entry for around August 1898 -- might be for the Gramophone Company, or some named individual in the company (Williams? Owen? Royal? Gaisberg? Birnbaum?), but anyway for delivery at 31 Maiden Lane; and it would be an upright model.  The model (eg 'F') and/or serial number would be good -- and the price, if available...   Following an old photo, I have had suggestions made of a Model K, but that was apparently not in production until 1903; the suggested Model F seems also incorrect, but a model similar to those two is likely.

 

I have unearthed another most likely but anonymous Percy Honri recording, a record billed only as 'In a village church'.  This consists of (orchestral) bells followed by a hymn, played not on an 'organ' but on a concertina.   (This befits the title, as late 19C rural churches often had to resort to concertina-players with the loss of other musicians to city life...)  The disc is number E9255, and the daily matrix number is 4, adjacent to Honri's E9111 'Medley of Popular Airs', matrix 3 made on the very same date, 17 October 1898.  The chances of it being somebody else on the concertina seem rather remote, I think! 

 

The Gram Co didn't get their hands on a reed organ for 'church scenes' until February 1899, when they recorded a few hymns with a small choir (very probably from the RC church just along the street).

 

Lastly, J Collis Bird: I have never encountered his disc, or even mention of a copy, but the Archive at Hayes will have it on their shelves...



#33 pga

pga

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Scotland

Posted 15 May 2015 - 08:02 AM

PS: re Honri's E9111 'Medley of popular airs' -- I've just spotted an earlier posting on this thread that gives the date of E9111 as 11 October rather than 17 October 1898.  I suspect that this has been a suggested 'conflation' in order to gather it together with the earlier Honri session (as there are no other 'Honri' specified on the later date) and it would certainly slightly tarnish my point about E9255 'In a village church'.  But the date on E9111 is clear enough -- the '7' might conceivably be read as a tightly malformed '9' or a messy '1' but in fact it matches well the definite '7' in the date (10.17.98) shown on E9255.  The adjacency of the two daily matrix numbers certainly helps, too.

 

The title on E9111 shows the additional word 'English' to the right just below 'popular airs', so that the full title might conceivably be read instead as 'Medley of popular English airs'.  Wrong and/or corrected/amended titles were not unknown on these early discs!


Edited by pga, 15 May 2015 - 08:08 AM.


#34 wes williams

wes williams

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 787 posts
  • Location:Somerset,UK

Posted 19 May 2015 - 03:26 PM

Thanks Peter - The E9111 date came from CHARM, so blame Alan Kelly :) .



#35 pga

pga

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Scotland

Posted 20 May 2015 - 01:22 PM

Oh, I do! I do! :D ...  

 

Alan and I used to correspond frequently, and I sent him lists of corrected/additional info on many early discs: but nowadays contact seems to be one-way, and I never know whether he's reacted appropriately or simply forgotten, amidst the piles of stuff he gets sent relating to other GramCo listings.  Apart from (now) old age, his difficulty with these discs is that he (with Perkins and Ward) collected and decoded catalogue and matrix details very many years ago from the holdings at Hayes and he is no longer able to go and re-check things if something like this turns up.  Sometimes I resort to sending him a scan, but... :(



#36 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 23 May 2015 - 01:40 PM

Lastly, J Collis Bird: I have never encountered his disc, or even mention of a copy, but the Archive at Hayes will have it on their shelves...

 

In theory they've got it Peter, only they can't find it  - that's the problem! This all started off as a thread on Melodeon.net in which Nick Collis Bird stated that "EMI are searching their archive but it is fairly split up" and then "Well, what a result! EMI  archives have found it [in their catalogue]. 'tis indeed E9105 Concertina. And it still exists, having survived two world wars. Whether we will ever be able to hear it is another matter, they don't know where it is, but they have it.." :(


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 25 May 2015 - 08:22 AM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users