Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Stephen Chambers

James Collis Bird - 1898 Concertina Record

Recommended Posts

Well, it used to be dead easy: when I once had the privilege of physically seeing the vast store of EMI's discs while they were at Uxbridge in a large warehouse with movable shelving, they were all in very long rows in catalogue number order. I don't know how they are currently stored back at Hayes, but it would not surprise me to know that they are 'split up'. The archive apparently had some interesting delays in moving because the shelving designed for the metal parts (shells, etc) started to collapse -- the designers had fondly assumed that the loading would be so many tons per bay, rather than per shelf :rolleyes:

 

Since I was involved slightly in the original email correspondence on E9105, I gather that one of the problems when looking for it was originally that the archive people were looking for 9015, which should be (and indeed proved to be) a piccolo recording: the KCL information seems incorrect? mis-transcribed? At that time (February 2014) EMI did come up with a scan of E9105, showing that they had certainly had a copy of it to hand at some stage.

Edited by pga

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, we now have a confirmation (Gaisberg's boat in 1898) and some new information (the Gramophone Company's Steinway).

 

I went to the National Archives armed with some contrary evidence and after several minutes' persistent argument eventually managed to persuade them that their online database was indeed incorrect, due to muddled digitised images or even muddled original documents. They then had to admit that they would have to order up the originals in order to check, which they have now done, confirming that the online images are muddled (and hence also the database entries). So Gaisberg's boat was indeed the Umbria, as he stated (and as I confirmed in 1995). The Archives say also that Ancestry acknowledge the problem -- but I can well see that the Archives will now be faced with the unhappy task of ensuring the integrity of their scanned image collection online...

 

I also went along to Steinway Hall, and looked at their ledger book for this period: and there it was -- Gramophone Company! Unfortunately (but understandably) it seems that the piano was at first only hired, and then marked as 'Sold from hire' with the only date marked being as late as 1902 and no date of first hire being given. However, the piano had come over from Hamburg in May 1898, so it was certainly available to the GramCo from the start of studio operations. Some remaining doubt naturally attaches to the timing of its delivery at Maiden Lane: it seems to me quite possible that Gaisberg had to make do with the hotel piano to start with (perhaps one already left in the hotel's 'old smoking-room') and so the arrival of the new (hired) piano could well coincide with a visit by Percy Honri, as Christopher Stone reported. Gaisberg would surely have insisted on having a piano of impeccable reliability -- and American, to boot -- and so a spot of 'jamming' could well have been his celebration of its arrival :lol:

 

Alas, I think it very unlikely that we'll find anything at Hayes to record piano hire, and it seems even less likely that a change of piano would be discernible via the primitive 1898 recording quality! So we'll have to be content with a partial result, I'm afraid...

Edited by pga

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your efforts, Peter. At least we've got a clearer idea of Fred Gaisberg's arrival now, so we can pin down dates more clearly, and see why recent research has managed to get things muddled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

New information about Maiden Lane: 'tradition' has it (since 1973!) that the Gramophone Company's first recording studio was 'in the basement' at 31 Maiden Lane -- something that has always bothered me, judging by the two famous surviving photographs of the time.

 

From these two pictures, architects' plans of the building, and two old accounts (including the well-known one by Landon Ronald re Emma Calvé), I have now proved that the studio was not in the pokey basement but in the very large room with tall windows overlooking the street -- on the first floor.

 

My article is in CLPGS journal For the Record 56, Winter 2015, pp.448–456.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done Peter, and thanks. I'd missed your July posting until now, but I guess you've done as much as can possibly be achieved in untangling the Percy Honri "first recording" issue, and what a pity the Steinway Hall ledger isn't any more helpful... (though it was still worth checking.)

 

I like your suggestion about the "jam session" when the new Steinway finally got delivered - that could certainly explain the later confusion!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

New information about Maiden Lane: 'tradition' has it (since 1973!) that the Gramophone Company's first recording studio was 'in the basement' at 31 Maiden Lane -- something that has always bothered me, judging by the two famous surviving photographs of the time.

 

From these two pictures, architects' plans of the building, and two old accounts (including the well-known one by Landon Ronald re Emma Calvé), I have now proved that the studio was not in the pokey basement but in the very large room with tall windows overlooking the street -- on the first floor.

 

My article is in CLPGS journal For the Record 56, Winter 2015, pp.448–456.

Peter's article mentioned above is 'Part 1' and 'Part 2' has now been published in the current issue (Autumn 2016) . You can obtain copies of these two journals from the CLPGS . In Part 2, Peter has done an amazing job analysing photos from Fred Gaisberg's personal photo album. There is even a close-up of the leg of the piano in the recording studio, and its' 'Sold from hire' entry. Part 3 is to follow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×