Sound Fountain



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Owner and producer of Remington Records, Donald H. Gabor (click on the name to read more about the man), was born on November 20, 1912. He received his education in Hungary. He was related to the Halmos family of Chicago. He came to the United States in 1938, just before World War 2 broke out. Many Hungarians left their country in the nineteen twenties and thirties as refugees of the dictatorial regime of Miklos Horthy (1921-1939). More Europeans fled from 1933 on because of the coming of the Third Reich.

Being of Hungarian descent is an important fact. It explains why so many artists, who had fled Hungary and other Eastern European countries, just before World War II, or had come to the US right after World War II had ended, were asked by Don Gabor to record for his labels at some time or other. If they had not been born in Europe, their parents would have and naturally had strong ties with the homeland. Or they simply had studied in Europe.

That is why names like Sari Biro, Edward Kilenyi, Laszlo Halasz, Ernö Dohnányi (in German: Ernst von Dohnanyi) and Georges Enesco/George Enescu (who stayed in Romania during World War Two) recorded for Gabor's labels. Many of the artists knew each other. Helen Airoff was a pupil of Enesco. French pianist Céliny Chailley-Richez can be found in the Remington catalogue performing with Enesco and also with Airoff. Dohnányi was the teacher of pianist Edward Kilenyi and of conductor Laszlo Halasz who initially aspired to a career as a pianist. In Europe Dohnányi had met American violinist Albert Spalding and was to perform with him in New York several years later.

Pianist Etelka Freund was another example. She also was originally from Hungary and came to the United States in 1946 because her attempt to flee Europe before the war had failed. She inevitably was invited to make recordings for Don Gabor too.
Also the designers had European names:
Alex Steinweiss, Otto Rado (from Slovenia), H. Kaebitz, Albitz, Einhorn, and Slonevski.
Even gifted jazz violinist Eddie South - The Dark Angel of The Fiddle - had a tie with Gabor's homeland and with Budapest where he had studied briefly with professor Janoz Derzo (according to John C. Brown's liner notes on the cover of Trip Jazz TLP-5803).

Donald Gabor (at left) recorded Béla Bartók in his home in New York in 1941. Conductor Laszlo Halasz at right.


In the winter of 1940 Béla Bartók and his wife Ditta Pasztory had come to the US to perform in a series of concerts. They had planned to go back to Europe in two years time as they expected that the war would not last very long. However the composer's health deteriorated and they decided to stay. Now it was important to get their son Peter out of Hungary to join them. They succeeded. Peter arrived in 1942 and then enlisted in the US Navy at age 18.

Conductor Laszlo Halasz who later was to be Remington's Recording Director knew Béla Bartók. Halasz knew the composer personally. Gabor knew of his appearance in New York. Donald Gabor made recordings of the maestro at his home in 1941 and probably also in 1942. Columbia also made recordings. Naxos mentions that the session took place already in 1940. These were mentioned in the The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music, 1942 edition, the year Gabor founded Continental. The fact that Columbia recorded Bartók playing his own music and accompanying violinist Joseph Szigeti and seeing the records listed may have inspired Donald Gabor to visit the composer and propose to do the same.

According to a press release sent by Gabor to High Fidelity Magazine in 1953, Gabor and Halasz did not know each other personally at the time when the recordings were made. From that it is clear that Laszlo Halasz was not involved in the recordings.
The recordings made by Gabor were practically immediately released on four Continental 78 RPM records (Set 102 consisting of 4005/6/7/8). Don Gabor had founded Continental Records Inc., in 1942. The discs were of course listed in the Gramophone Encyclopedia of Recorded Music, 1948 edition. On the program:

Bartók plays Bartók: Slow Melody; Walachian Dance; Whirling Dance; Quasi Pizzicato; Ukrainian Song; Bagpipe Players; Preludio-All'Ungherese; First Rondo; Second Bagatelle; Improvisations Nos. 1, 2, 6, 7, 8; Three Hungarian Folk Tunes; and together with Ditta Pasztory-Bartók, Chord and Trill Study, New Hungarian Folk Songs, Chromatic invention.

These recordings of Bartók were subsequently released on a 33 RPM Continental LP. Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog of September 1950 lists this LP with reference CLP 101. In the fall of 1952, two years after the Remington label had been founded, these recordings appeared on Remington R-199-94 with the same title, "Bartók plays Bartók".

bela bartokBartók plays Bartók

Béla Bartók smoking a cigarette at the end of a recording session at his home in New York and watching the ashes of the cigarette to fall down.

That is the suggestion of the photo of Bartók on the cover of the album with the four 78 RPM Continental shellac disks.
Furthermore the labels bear the annotation "Recorded in Europe" thus avoiding problems with the Union and James Petrillo, while in reality the recordings were made in New York.
Bartok plays Bartok - Continental 78 RPM
The Continental LP with the same recordings had a red velvet like cover in the style used for the Enesco album of Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach. The Continental logo is in the left upper corner.

 Although the technical quality of the recordings was not very high, Irving Kolodin remarked about the 78 RPM records in "The New Guide To Recorded Music" (Doubleday, New York, 1950): "...the inherent value of the playing is not to be denied."
The selections are Bagatelle Op. 6, No. 2; Rondo No. 1 On Folk Tunes (1916); Petite Suite (1938) - Slow Melody, Wallachian Dance, Whirling Dance, Quasi Pizzicato, Ukranian Song, Bagpipers; Preludio all'Ungherese; Improvisations (on Hungarian Folksongs) Op. 20, Nos. 1, 2, 6, 7, 8; Hungarian Folktunes (from "Hommage to Paderewski") all played by Béla Bartók. With his wife Ditta Pasztory he plays from Mikrokosmos: Chord and Trill Study, New Hungarian Folk Song, Chromatic Invention.

These recordings were later included in the Hungaroton Centenary Edition "Bartók at the Piano", Vol. 1920-1945 (LPX 12326-33), issued in 1981. At the end of the nineteen seventies the recordings made by Donald Gabor of Bartók playing were acquired by Hungaroton from 'American Tape Corporation' as Gabor's enterprise then was named.

These same recordings made in the early 1940s were bought by the German publisher Ullstein from Vox. Vox had acquired tapes from Gabor and presumably from Columbia as well. So a more extensive program was issued in Germany on Intercord LP 1109 in 1977 and again in 1980 on Saphir INT 120.930.

The extensive literature accompanying the set of Hungaroton records tells about the social nature of Gabor's personality:

"Don Gabor (...) thought up the idea to help support Bartók. For three years fake sales accounts were used to transfer substantial sums to him. In 1943 e.g. Bartók had a total income of $ 4312, of what $ 646 were allegedly derived from "Continental Rec." royalties. Early in 1944 Bartók noticed how many fewer records the giant Columbia had sold than Continental, and Mr. Gabor's kind stratagem stood revealed."

In 1946 Bartók was posthumously admitted to membership in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) which had given him also some financial assistance towards the end of his life and took care of his funeral expenses.

After the Second World War many US record companies traveled to Europe to make recordings. And when the LP record was announced by Columbia in 1947, it did not take long before technicians and producers took their new acquired tape machines to Europe to make recordings: Concert Hall in The Netherlands and Switzerland, Mercury recorded in Denmark where they had a license agreement with the Danish Tono label, and Mercury bought tapes in Czechoslovakia.

Westminster went to Switzerland. Nixa and Period made recordings in Germany, and Vox (and later also Vanguard) made many recordings in Austria and also in Germany. Urania bought all sorts of performances that were taped already during World War Two. That is why the same names of conductors and instrumentalists and singers can be found on various other labels, Philips and English Decca included.

Right after the war when Austria was occupied by the allied countries, notably the presence of the USSR weighed heavily on the Austrian people and the future of Austria was not too sure, until 1955, when an agreement was reached between the allied powers and the Soviet Union, and Austria became fully independent again.
In the televised documentary "Man and Mask", Alfred Brendel remembered the rather cynical and grim atmosphere which reigned in Austria after the war and in the early nineteen fifties and that "things could only get better".

Austria needed much money to revive its economy and to pay its debts to the Soviet Union. Any help was welcome. And many a record company was attracted to record in Vienna and Salzburg, not only because there were so many artists, but because the fees were extremely agreeable. Making recordings or just acquiring taped performances did not need too much of an investment.
The relatively low cost was an important factor for all producers, and naturally for Don Gabor.

Don Gabor knew the very popular stars Martha Eggert and Jan Kiepura. (Picture taken from the EMI Electrola Dacapo LP 1 C 147-29 135/36 M).
Marcel Prawy in the early nineteen seventies when he compiled a series of LPs with opera highlights for Deutsche Grammophon.Picture taken from DGG LP 2532 001. Photo credit: Will Appelt, Wien.

Don Gabor knew singers Martha Eggerth and Jan Kiepura, the famous operetta couple. Martha Eggert was from Hungary. (Note: in various publications her name is also spelled as Marta Eggerth and as Marta Eggert.) The couple had left Europe in 1939 and went to live and perform in the USA. In 1940 Martha Eggerth sang in the Broadway musical 'Higher and Higher'. They played in the Broadway production of the operetta 'The Merry Widow' in the 1943-1944 season. Their recordings became available on Columbia. When the LP format was introduced they appeared on Continental record CLP 2012 which indicates that Gabor must have made a few recordings with them already in the 78 RPM era as these recordings were dubbings from 78 RPM acetates.

Through this contact Gabor had met Austrian Marcel Prawy (1911-2003) who migrated to the US together with the movie stars. He was a lawyer and handled their artistic, financial and legal affairs since 1937 already. In 1943 he quit his job as the couple's secretary and enlisted in the US Army where he was mainly teaching language and European culture and customs so the GI's knew to a certain extent what they would find in Europe. Prawy returned with the US Army to Europe and was located in various cities. From 1946 to 1950 he was a "Military Civilian" with the US Forces in Vienna and again was teaching, was taking part as a censor of movies, and worked for the weekly news reel "Welt im Film" (The World in Film).

Haydn and Mozart by Paul Walter. Mozart's Requiem by Josef Messner, a Salzburger Festspiele recording and Hans Wolf conducts Symphony in D by Franck.

Donald Gabor had started with ethnic music but he put himself on the map as a producer when he started Continental Records. There is already mention of Gabor and his Continental Company in 1942 when he was accused of not complying with the regulations during World War Two. And he is already listed in Billboard's Music Year Book of 1943. It is not sure if he received a loan from his former RCA boss Tetos Demetriades to set up his business. But there were certainly businessmen who wanted to invest in a new and growing business of a young entrepreneur. Demetriades made himself an independent record producer of recordings with ethnic music.

During the war years Donald Gabor contemplated to start the Remington Records label (named after the Remington Phonograph Corporation which went bankrupt in 1921, but probably also because of the widespread use of the name for different brands: Remington typewriters, Remington pianos, and of course Remington is the manufacturer of guns and rifles). He planned to release a vast catalog of classical music. The execution of his plan was hastened after the 33 1/3 Long Playing record had been introduced in 1948 by Columbia.

Gabor asked Marcel Prawy in Vienna to hire artists and make arrangements for recordings. Vienna was and is "the music capital of Europe". Producer Marcel Prawy (who later became chief dramatist at the "Wiener Oper" - Viennese Opera - wrote books, introduced the American musical in Vienna, and became a popular TV personality) arranged for the recordings with well known conductors who had earned national recognition through their work with the Austrian Radio Broadcasting Corporation (Österreichische Rundfunk, ORF) while performing in concerts and operatic productions of which Vienna always has a lot to offer.

These conductors were Kurt Wöss, Wilhelm Loibner (1909-1971), Gustav Koslik (1902-1989), Felix Prohaska , Paul Walter, Max Schönherr (1903-1984; who conducted highlights from Die Fledermaus on R-199-41), George Singer, Fritz Weidlich (1898-1952), Robert Heger (1886-1978), Alexander Paulmüller, Anton Paulik (1901-1975) and Hans Wolf.

Also performances with renown singers Astrid Varnay (1918-2006) and Rosette Anday (1903-1977) were recorded, and there are even performances with Irmgard Seefried, Hilde Zadek, Anton Dermota (1910-1989), Lorenz Fehenberger, Ferdinand Franz, and with conductor Josef Messner (1893-1969), while at the same time American conductor H. Arthur Brown traveled to Vienna to conduct the Niederöstereichisches Tonkünstlerorchester. Also pianist Edward Kilenyi Jr. recorded in Vienna (with Felix Prohaska).
Sari Biro and Felicitas Karrer,
Frieda Valenzi and Céliny Chailley-Richez.

Prawy also approached the younger generation of performers who just had left the 'Musikhochschule' or the "Viennese State Academy for Music and Dramatic Art" and were starting a career. Pianist Alexander Jenner told me that Mr. Prawy would ask a young musician to study, say, Beethoven's 'Diabelli Variations' and be ready in two weeks time for a recording session.

The sessions arranged by Prawy produced material to be released not only on Remington but in several cases also on the Plymouth/Merit label on which artists like pianists Frieda Valenzi, Jörg Demus, Alfred Kitchin, Hilde Somer and Alexander Jenner, and also conductor Fritz Busch can be found. On some occasions the rights for taped performances made by the Austrian Broadcasting Company were bought as was the case with the Busch recordings of Beethoven's 3rd and 8th Symphonies. The 8th Symphony was released by Gabor in December 1953 as a MUSIRAMA production, but of course was not a real MUSIRAMA recording as the tape dated from before 1951.

Marcel Prawy produced the recordings from 1950 till the end of 1952 and actually owned the rights. Some of these recordings with the same artists were released on European labels in the nineteen fifties and later in the nineteen sixties and seventies and not only contained the performances of Austrian artists but also recordings with the Italian conductors Erasmo Ghiglia, Alberto Poeletti, Luigi Ricci, and Vittorio Gui. (A page with opera recordings is in the making).

The recordings of Kurt Wöss were made before 1951 (most certainly before the start of the 1951/1952 season), 1951 being the year when Wöss went to Japan to take up the post of conductor of the Radio Symphony Orchestra of the NHK, the Japanese National Broadcasting Corporation, the number one orchestra of Japan. Wöss's very short biography in 'Conductors on Record' only mentions that from 1948 till 1951 he made recordings for the Remington label. The years should be 1950-1951. And the great Fritz Busch died in 1951. The recordings of this great conductor were also made in 1950, the year in which Gabor started the Remington label as the first thin paper sleeves indicate Copyright 1950.

Jörg Demus plays Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 30 (Op. 109) and 31 (Op. 110) on R-199-29
An American in Vienna: Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade conducted by H. Arthur Brown on R-199-11

And when American artists traveling in Europe came to perform in Vienna, recordings were made either by the Austrian Broadcasting Organization or produced by Marcel Prawy. Examples are recordings by pianist Sari Biro, pianist Edward Kilenyi and of mezzo-soprano Mona Paulee singing songs by George Gershwin, Rudolf Friml, Sigmund Romberg and Cole Porter with an orchestra conducted by famous Austrian pianist-composer-conductor-arranger Heinz Sandauer. And Gabor himself visited Europe at several occasions. For example in the summer of 1950 to Italy to arrange contracts and the recording of various opera productions.

At the same time recordings were made at home in the USA. Examples are some of Kilenyi's solo recordings and the performances of Ernst von Dohnányi with Albert Spalding which were recorded as early as the fall of 1949, although mention of a contract with Spalding is first announced in 1950 after he had recorded the three Brahms Violin Sonatas. And many titles which were released on Continental records, were gradually re-released as Remington discs.

Don Gabor had been working in the shipping department of RCA Victor. His job with RCA is quite significant for his approach. Initially he was not employed in the production offices or the studios, but just saw the many carton boxes, filled with shellac records, which had to be sent to the various dealers. That is where he probably got the idea that the quantity could be increased if the records were less expensive. And if he himself was going to start a label to be distributed on a large scale, it only would be feasible if he kept the price low in order to achieve a large enough turnover. At that time the record industry was not a highly thriving business economically. So Gabor had ideas of his own, just as Eli Oberstein had, who was by ten years Gabor's senior. If Oberstein had some influence seems logical. Oberstein had also been working at Victor and had started on his own, two years before Don Gabor did.

Donald Gabor was also aware of the way unknown artists were treated before they were profitable to the company and acquired star status. Victor was known for the meager fees the artists would be paid. And he himself had to deal with artists when producing records when he had become head of Victor's foreign record department.

One other very important fact was that Gabor knew many artists who had left Europe and still remained in the USA. New York was full of them. He certainly had met quite a few of them. So there were possibilities when, as a young man of just thirty, he left RCA in order to establish his own business. An early address which was mentioned was on Broadway, but in Billboard's Music Year Book of 1943 263, West 54th Street, is the address of the company of which Donald H. Gabor is president and Mrs. Donald H. Gabor is vice-president. (Interesting note is that Gene Krupa and Cozy Cole founded the Krupa-Cole Drum School, in March of 1954, in the building next to where Donald and Wally Gabor lived, also the address of the Plymouth and the Merit Record Corporations.

In the 1980's and 1990's Ye Olde Tripple Inn was located at the former address of Don Gabor. A few years ago Streetview showed that the low buildings and houses had been torn down and that section of 54th Street became a construction site. Old Google Maps showed that much of the work had been done and office buildings had been erected. But the New Google Maps also shows old Street view images which do not represent the state the street is in now, in 2015.

Don Gabor's first label was Continental in the 78 RPM era. Broadway is the company's address, soon to be changed to 263 West 54th St. which later housed Ye Olde Tripple Inn, a famous New York dive bar.

Gabor's first recordings were done when he was still employed by RCA. Gabor had special labels with ethnic music like the Csardas Label for the "Hungarian" market, and the White Eagle label for the "Polish" market. Record covers of 78 RPM records from the W.W.II era list the different labels of the company. The first Csardas recordings date back to November 25, 1940 as David Diehl told me. Famous artists were Frank Yankovic and Victor Zembruski. Victor Zembruski (the Connecticut Polish Orchestra), recorded later for the Continental Record Company and his recordings were released on both the White Eagle and Continental labels and were later re-released on Remington, Paris, Palace, and Masterseal.

On Continental Gabor released popular music, jazz and also some classical music. "The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music" (New York, 1948) mentions the existence of the label as indicated by CON, but the recordings are few and are not easily detected in the lists, except for Continental C 4005 on which Béla Bartók plays Slow Melody, Walachian Dance, Whirling Dance, Quasi Pizzicato, and Ukrainian Song of the Bag Pipe Players.

Another fellow-Hungarian who recorded for Don Gabor was Andor Foldes who fled Europe and had come to America in 1940. On Continental 78 RPM with reference CON 22 (which is also referred to as C5033) he plays March from 'The Love of The Three Oranges' (Prokofiev) and Polka from the ballet 'The Golden Age' (Shostakovich). On Continental 78 RPM (CON 34) he plays Albeniz: Seguidillas (No. 5 from Cantos de Espana), Sevillana (from Suite Espanola). On Remington RLP-149-4 (33 RPM) he plays Mazurka (Chopin), Prelude (Chopin), Three Waltzes from Op.39 (Brahms), Lullaby (Brahms), The Maiden with the Flaxen Hair (Debussy), Valse oublié (Liszt), Prelude in B Flat (Gershwin), Dance fantastique (Shostakovich) Spanish Dances Nos. 5 and 6 (Granados).

Foldes is actually better known for accompanying violinist Joseph Szigeti on Columbia 78 RPM (Debussy, Hubay, Kodaly, Schubert), his recordings made in Denmark for the Tono label after the war playing Beethoven Sonatas, piano music by Schumann (which also appeared on Mercury Records), and for the many recordings he made for Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft: Mikrokosmos (Bartók), Rachmaninoff (2nd Piano Concerto), Modern repertory (Barber, Copland, Stravinsky) and music of Beethoven and Mozart.

Andor Foldes plays 'Encore', as does Lily Miki on another album originally recorded on Continental 78 RPM discs.

There are also sets of Continental 78 RPM records with harpsichordist Dorothy Lane in a complete edition of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier (according to Irving Kolodin to be preferred over Isabelle Nef's l'Oiseau Lyre recordings, at least sound wise).

The Continental label was later also an LP-label with various releases of classical and popular music:
#C 4009 - Ernö Balogh with works by Vianna, Villa Lobos, Mignone
#2001 - Richard Dyer-Bennet: Folk Songs
#2011 - Richard Dyer-Bennet: Songs
#CLP 2012 - Jan Kiepura and Martha Eggert
#CLP 103 - Elsa Martinelli with excerpts from Don Giovanni, La Fanciulla del West, Turandot, Manon Lescaut, Mefistofele, Madame Butterfly.

The most famous Continental releases are those of Georges Enesco playing Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo on CLP-104/6.
The Continental LP-releases were in the same (high) price class as the records of Columbia, RCA and Victor. A few years later the Continental label ceased to exist but Gabor revived the label for a short time in the early nineteen sixties.

Most of Gabor's 78s were pressed at the Scranton Record Mfg. plant which at the time was the largest independent plant in the US. Even after Capitol bought the plant in 1946, records were pressed there, because Eli Oberstein, another remarkable figure in the history of recorded sound in the nineteen forties and fifties, continued to have access to the Capitol plant. Oberstein controlled most of the shellac which was in very short supply at the time. In 1948 Oberstein took over the bankrupt Sonora Co. and in 1949 he regained his New Jersey Plastics Co. and started to press LPs from then on.

Another important name in early American LP history is Webster Manufacturing Co. of Webster, Massachusetts. Webster - as the story is told - had once been a center of textile manufacturing, but just after World War II, the Webster Manufacturing Co. had moved to a nonunion site in the South (which was a not uncommon practice for companies to avoid regulations), leaving behind an empty factory and an unemployed labor force. That is where Don Gabor and his Continental Record Company come into focus. Gabor persuaded the workers to help him buy the factory and install record-pressing equipment to produce 78 RPM discs for him. Gabor decided that from 1949 on the plant would only press plastic 45 rpm and 33 rpm disks. See Record Corporation of New England. Remington records had been pressed in New Jersey, but in 1951 Gabor told music critic Cecil Smith that he intended to press the Remington records in Webster. See Cecil Smith's article in The New Republic.

The Webster Pressing Plant: production of the cheap vinyl mix (vinylite), matrix quality control, and record pressing

The major attraction of tape was, of course, that longer recording sessions were possible and above all splicing was feasible, thus a performance without (too many) errors could be compiled. There was however another important advantage. Tape made it possible to add a second playback head a few inches before the actual playback head. The signal picked up by this playback head steered the cutter head When a dynamic passage was picked up by this second head it was possible to allow more land between adjacent grooves which contained high dynamics. (In Europe this method was even further developed by Decca and Telefunken which had formed the TELDEC company in Germany. The system was called "Füllschrift" because of the possibility to economically use the unused land separating the groove during less loud passages.)

The Mercury engineers were the first to use this system in the US and named it "margin control". They did apply it also manually to give optimum room for the groove when the signal contained high dynamics (loud passages in the music). The best example is the Mercury recording of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" (first in mono and later a new recording was done in stereo). On Remington records no sign of margin control can be detected. Margin control was an attribute of quality and would have been a luxury for a label like Remington. So the recordings were certainly not mastered by Mercury in Chicago, which was also a new and independent label at the time. And Mercury had their classical records pressed at RCA Victor's and jazz and pop at their own plant.

It is not certain if Eli Oberstein pressed a number of releases for Gabor. Many Plymouth pressings (of the second label) have the look and feel of Oberstein's Allegro and Royale records. Remingtons are of a different vinyl mix and were pressed at the Webster plant.

What really is quite certain: the quality of the plastic was definitely not of the same standard as the vinyl used by the big companies. Gabor used a cheap substitute for his discs which were not entirely free from surface noise - to put it mildly. And there is a difference between the quality and flexibility of the early vinylite substitutes and the later compounds he used. Differences can also be noted in the quality used for the various labels. Especially in the beginning the plastic was hard and not flexible at all, and even brittle and grainy, and the discs were not unbreakable. A demonstration of its flexibility often resulted in a cracked or broken disc.

Ella Fitzgerald and Slam Stewart. (Copyright: William P. Gottlieb) and Count Basie with Timmie Rosencrantz (courtesy Sepia Jazz).

Don Gabor was a well known figure in the New York music and manufacturing scenes and knew how to persuade people to work with him and/or have their recordings released on his labels. He knew violinist Enoch Light (who was a trained classical musician) and his band "The Light Brigade". Light recorded for RCA and Columbia, and also made recordings with Don Gabor at the end of the nineteen forties on 78 RPM. On Continental C 1175: Laughing on the outside, Got a date with a disc (Enoch Light and his Orchestra and Loren Becker). These recordings were later released on the Remington label in the 7" 45 RPM format. That was before Enoch Light started to manage labels himself. First for other entrepreneurs and later he created his own quality labels Command (while hiring Robert C. Fine and George Piros) and Project 3.

Don Gabor also made recordings in the nineteen forties with young jazz artists, who stood at the beginning of their careers, and released them on his Continental 78 RPM label: Dizzy Gillespie, Slam Stewart, Ethel Waters, Dorothy Donegan, Cozy Cole, J.C. Heard, Edmond Hall, Hot Lips Page, Eddie South and Timmie Rosencrantz. View the list of original Continental jazz recordings and their reissues on Remington and Plymouth.

There were releases in the 1000, 10000, 3000, 6000 and 8000 series. It is impossible to compile complete listings of the releases, but for the lover of jazz and for the collector I list a few. It is remarkable to not only find Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie and Slam Stewart, but also Louis Armstrong and even Leonard Feather, who started off as a musician and later concentrated on writing and publishing, among other things his Encyclopedia of Jazz. These discs were released with and without a preceding "C". An "S" means "stamper".

Naturally these recordings were later released on LP on the Remington label and are quite unique. Some of the recordings of Sarah Vaughan from 1944 and 1945 can be found on Remington RLP-1024, and later on R 199-258, on Masterseal MS 55, Palace A 673 and in the nineteen fifties and sixties on other labels of Gabor. The same goes for the 78 RPM Continentals of Slam Stewart and Ethel Waters.

A very nice presentation was the boxed set of three 45 RPM discs of Ethel Waters with the title "Shades of Blue". The titles: Am I Blue (with a blue label), Dinah, Cabin in the Sky, Taking a Chance on Love, You Took My Man and Man Wanted. The Copyright is 1951 and the reference number is RB-924.

On Remington R-1033 Eddie South, Slam Stewart, Red Norvo, Johnny Guarneri, Morey Field and Wayne Chuck perform Talking Back, Bell for Norvo, Voice of the turtle, Slamming the gate, Twelve o'clock at night, Eddie's blues and Singing the blues. The heading on the cover reads "Modern American Musicians". Remington RLP 1035 features orchestral music conducted by Edmund Hall, Timmie Rosencrantz and "Hot Lips" Page. The cover of Remington R-1032 reads "Cafe society swing" by the Timmie Rosencrantz, Cozy Cole and Sabby Lewis orchestras. All these recordings were re-released in the nineteen fifties and sixties on Masterseal, Palace, Buckingham, etc.


Don Gabor often recorded groups and people that were probably only known locally. He issued many recordings in the popular sector for all sorts of nationalities with Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Slovene, Spanish and Portuguese artists. Portuguese fados sung by young Amalia Rodriguez were released on Continental. (Even Frank Chacksfield appears on the label).

Another example of the ethnic releases is RLP-1010 of The Gypsy Wanderers who play "Russian Caravan".
On RLP 1004 "The Gay 90's Gang" play melodies and medleys with tunes like: By the light of the silvery moon, Give my regards to Broadway, Beer, beer glorious beer, Down where the Wurzburger flows, etc. This band also appeared on the Decca label.

Dixiaires recordings were released on Continental 78 RPM and later on Remington together with spirituals by the Selah Jubilee Quartet. At right the cover of the Gay Nineties disc.
Gay Nineties: Various orchestras and bands.

On the cover of RLP-1023 the headline says: "Spirituals by the world famous Selah Jubilee Quartet". They are backed on side 2 by "The Dixiaires" (Dixiaires) who also had appeared on Continental before.

"The Seelah Jubilee Quartet" had been recorded in Los Angeles instead of New York, and probably not by Gabor. Their performances were first released on 78 RPM Continental and were dubbed later to Remington RLP-1023 singing Precious Memories, My Dungeon Shook, Joshua, Down by the River Side, There'll Be a Jubilee, Ezekiel Saw the Wheel, Selah Gospel Train.

The singers also appeared on Plymouth PL-12-109 under the heading Religious Favorites.
The Selah Jubilee Singers as choir with additional selections on Masterseal.

"Selah Jubilee Quartet" is apparently the same group as the "Selah Jubilee Singers" who recorded for DECCA in the years 1939-1945 and Gabor could have made the recordings after the contract with DECCA had expired, in 1945-1946 or could have bought the ready made recordings. The selections of RLP-1023 were released on Masterseal 1903 in 1957 on the A-Side, with seven songs which were previously not released. Then the Dixiaires are not mentioned, but their earlier performances are now also labeled as being of the Selah Jubilee Choir. The Vocal Group Harmony Website may tell you more.

Many times Gabor just bought recordings and released these on his various labels. When Slovenian accordion player Frank Yankovic was already contracted by Columbia Records, Don Gabor was using the recordings made by Frank in the early nineteen forties and released them over and over again. First on 78 RPM shellac discs on the Continental and Remington labels, and later on Remington and Masterseal Long Play.

Gabor's first Remington releases had a red label designed in the style which looked like that of labels like Columbia and Westminster. It bore also resemblance with the Continental label. The label indicated that the record was pressed on Websterlite and was licensed by Remington Records Inc., NY, USA and for use on phonographs in homes. The covers were made of paper and reminded of the simple sleeves of 78 RPM records except for the artwork. Instead of liner notes there was a list of the (earliest) releases with the heading 'Music for every mood' with Felicitas Karrer, Elisabeth (Elizabeth) Wysor, Karin Branzell, Andor Foldes and a series of 10 inch records with popular music which had formerly been released on Continental and 78 RPM shellac discs. 'Copyright 1950' was printed on the sleeve.
Alfred Jilka leader of the JilkaTrio and Septet

The label was soon altered and changed into a more distinguished design. This second series label also had a red color but now with the name Remington in a curved logo. The covers had a design with large lettering and simple but colorful artwork. The year of copyright on the back of the covers of the early releases of the Rachmaninoff Concerto by Felicitas Karrer, Cesar Franck's Symphony conducted by Hans Wolf, and H. Arthur Brown conducting Scheherezade and Tchaikovsky's Pathétique is 1950. Soon more refined artwork and smaller typeface for the label numbers was applied to the releases with higher catalog numbers.

Often a generic design was used as in the case of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto by Walter Schneiderhan (leader of the 'Wiener Symphoniker' since 1948 and brother of Wolfgang Schneiderhan; Walter had performed with Jan Kiepura and Martha Eggert), Brahms' Violin Sonatas by Albert Spalding and Ernö Dohnanyi (Ernst von Dohnanyi), The Jilka Trio (Alfred Jilka, violin - Peter Schwartzel, cello - Kurt Rapf, piano) playing Beethoven's Trio Op. 97 'Archduke' (R-199-27), and with members added played as Jilka Sextet on RLP-199-22 Beethoven's Septet in e flat, Op. 20, for Violin, Viola, French Horn, Clarinet, Bassoon and Contrabass.

And again Walter Schneiderhan's performance of Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Violin Op. 30, No. 2 coupled with Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 8 played by Helen Airoff and Céliné Chailley-Richez). The record with reference RLP 149-3 with Willy Boskovsky suggesting that it contains Schubert's Trout Quintette is a disappointment. Billboard of 21 October, 1950, reviewed the disc:

The label on this $1.49 LP would lead one to believe this is the complete "Trout" Quintet which it isn't. Actually it's a poorly played potpourri of themes of the great work, which is hardly likely to attract chamber music buyers at any price. The flip, however, is a delightful work, with several movements omitted - and satisfactorily performed. Same opus is available complete on a Mercury disk, incidentally. - Billboard, October 21st, 1950

An interesting rarity is R-149-20 with violinist Ivry Gitlis (pupil of Georges Enesco) who plays with passion and lyricism Paganini's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 6, in the arrangement by Fritz Kreisler; the Austrian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kurt Wöss.
Most early covers however were of paper as used by the big companies as well. But soon cardboard covers were introduced. Nevertheless the early covers were tasteful in design and the Remington-logo was not placed on the covers on a fixed spot. Every edition had an emblem with the text: "A DON GABOR Production".

Karrer Woss Hans Wolf
H.Arthur Brown

Later on an oval emblem was added telling the prospective buyer that the record was of high quality. It said: "Complete Audible Range Reproduction", probably inspired by London's "full frequency range recording". Other record companies had a similar emblem and/or quality slogan which indicated the nature of their business. Capitol had the "Full Dimensional Sound" logo, RCA had "Orthophonic High Fidelity" and Mercury marked their record sleeves (though not always rightfully) with the indication "living presence" and later on added "margin control" on the label itself.

Gabor realized that an indication of quality was necessary to add importance to the label and to give the impression that his product was to be regarded in the same class as the big labels. He stayed on the safe side with the word "Reproduction" instead of "Recording", so it all depended on the listener's audio set.

The address of the office was then 263 West 54th Street in New York. But soon was to be exchanged for a suite on Fifth Avenue.
Unlike the obscure labels like Allegro, Ultraphon and Royale, which had bootleg recordings, the Remington label had original recordings made in Austria and in the USA. The label was taken quite seriously and the classical releases were listed in 'Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog' and in its competitor 'The Long Player' and initially were reviewed seriously by the critics of the magazines and newspapers, a recognition Gabor lost when he did not improve upon the technical quality of the records and downgraded the label to a supermarket product a couple of years later.

Pianist Sari Biro plays Mussorgski. FIRST REMINGTON LABEL.
In Vienna recordings of the same artists were released on the Viennola label.

If compared to the mayor labels like Columbia and RCA, the technical quality of the pressings was not of the highest standard, to put it mildly. However one should not forget that when Gabor started to produce his LP recordings the hiss of the 78 RPM shellac records was still resounding in the ears of most record collector and also in Gabor's.
In order to stimulate the sales Gabor would promise a warranty for quality and if a customer was not content with the quality he could ask for a refund. Robert Angus remembers:

"A couple of friends and I were in New York for a few days during school vacation. Sam Goody had just run an ad encouraging readers to try Remington on a money-back guarantee if not satisfied. So we all brought our unwanted Remingtons to town, went to Goody in person and demanded our money back.
Goody replied that the guarantee was not his, but made by Remington, and that we should take our records and our arguments out of his store and trit over to Fifth Avenue, which we did.
Somewhat to my surprise, we were ushered into this absolutely palatial office in which virtually the only furniture was a very ornate desk. Behind it sat a thin, dapper and very dour man who identified himself as Mr. Gabor. We argued that his records were very noisy, and got increasingly noisier with each playing. He assured us in no uncertain terms that this was due to the cheap playback equipment we were using (which was undoubtedly true, but didn't interfere with our enjoyment of Victors and Columbias) and he asked what we expected for $2.99 anyway.
We left without a refund and with our records, very annoyed and disgruntled, but somewhat amazed that we had gotten to see the Great Man himself." - Robert Angus


Like RCA, the inventor of the 7 inch 45 RPM disc, also Remington released 45 RPM boxed editions of complete symphonies and concertos: Beethoven's Emperor with Felicitas Karrer and (at left) Dvorak's New World Symphony. At right one of the 45 RPM Extended Play releases of opera highlights.

Madame Butterfly



Copyright 1995-2009 by Rudolf A. Bruil