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Alex Steinweiss and other Artists and Designers

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Alex Steinweiss first 78 RPM illustrated album for Columbia 1939

Smash Song Hits by Rodgers & Hart performed by the Imperial Orchestra conducted by Richard Rodgers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Steinweiss logo on the Columbia covers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beginning for many LP records a basic design was used which only needed filling in names of artist(s), composer(s), compositions and reference number on the tombstone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Steinweiss cover for the 10 inch Columbia release in 1950 of music by Sibelius and Rachmaninoff performed by Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra
ML 2158.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remington First Label

Remington's first label in the style of the Continental label.

Remington's Second Label

Remington's original second label.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Steinweiss 'signature' written in the so called Steinweiss scrawl as it appeared on Remington releases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steinweiss designed 1952 Remington Record Catalog

Remington's catalog, published in the fall of 1952, showing the new design. The cover is by Alex Steinweiss of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Remington label designed by Alex Steinweiss

The first label Alex Steinweiss designed for Remington Records. Inc. It is Remington's third label and has Don Gabor's signature. It also shows the crown which was retained from the early label. But the style bears Alex Steinweiss's signature.

Steinweiss's beautiful MUSIRAMA label

The fourth label designed for the MUSIRAMA recordings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remington Factory Sealed HiFi  Musirama  - sticker to indicate quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLICK and GO to COLLECTORS WEEKLY

Collectors Weekly added The REMINGTON Site to their Hall of Fame - Best of the Web.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In 1939, 22 year old Alexander Steinweiss proposed to Columbia to make a change in the presentation and packaging of the 78 RPM record albums. Sleeves for single disks were often made of plain paper or had more elaborate designs which served as advertisements not directly linked to the recorded music pressed on the disk.

Record Sleeves for 78 RPM Illustrated
Big record companies everywhere put their disks in sleeves with elaborate designs.
Here four examples of European 78 RPM record sleeves from the 1930s: Columbia (Great Britain), Polydor (Deutsche Grammophon), His Master's Voice (advertising the HMV reentrant horn) and Telefunken (with the image of violinist Georg Kulenkampff).

Multi-record releases in albums were rather simple if compared to the stylish 78 RPM sleeves. Below is the Columbia album CX 120, later renamed MX-120, of Liszt's Todtentanz, performed by pianist Edward Kilenyi and conductor Selmar Meyrowitz, on 2 x 12" 78 RPM disks.

Plain 78 RPM Record Album of Franz Liszt Todtentanz - Totentanz - performed by Edward Kilenyi and Selmar Meirowitz

So, why not adorn these albums with graphics too? Steinweiss's idea was to use original artwork (drawings and paintings) on the front of the albums specifically related to the recorded work(s).
This approach was quite a change, even if compared to the more luxurious gold or silver imprint of the nomenclature in a serif or gothic font on the black, green, brown or beige heavy books.

78 RPM Record Album with image of Nipper and Printed Title of the Work Performeder
The design of the albums was derived from the photo album design with a plain and simple layout and lettering as this European release of HMV (Victor in the USA) shows.
Isolde Menges performs Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, accompanied by pianist Arthur de Greef.
His Master's Voice D 1066/69 electrical recording, date November 10, 1925.
Idea of ALEX STEINWEISS to illustrate the 78 RPM Record Album
This album is testimony of the revolution in album design. It shows Alex Steinweiss's style to the full.
Pianist Oscar Levant plays George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy on Columbia MX251 (on LP ML4026).
NOTE: This is not the world's first album cover ever, because that was for a 1939 collection of songs by Rodgers and Hart. It is also not the factual best selling cover of the Rhapsody played by Alec Templeton with André Kostelanetz which I only have in its plain edition and was released only much later on LP in January 1952, ML4455. The Templeton album which was illustrated by Steinweiss shows a small, white piano under a street lamp which is in fact a trumpet, the suggestion of the New York skyline in black, plus the lettering which is, as always with Steinweiss, an integral part of the design.

Even though Steinweiss' idea seems a logical step, the idea itself was revolutionnary and had a vast impact on the record business. The new look skyrocketed the sales of a Rodgers & Hart album (with orchestra conducted by Richard Rogers) which was already on the shelves but now it was apealing even more.
First 78 RPM Album illustrated by Alex SteinweissFrom that day on, of every new release sales were boosted above average and the artistic packaging became an important part of the record. Soon this idea was adopted by every record company.

Imagine, being that young and your idea is accepted by an important company. The idea is provocative, it is revolutionary, and it links a commercial concept to a high artistic quality. That is thrilling. At first sight there is a slight reminiscence of cubism and art deco, but it follows its own development. It breaks with old fashioned thinking. Now the liner notes of the albums are also styled in a modern way as is shown by the later release of a box with two 12 inch shellac records with the recording of Suite No. 1 from Peer Gynt (Grieg), Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra (Columbia Masterworks Set MX-291).

Alex Steinweiss box for Columbia of Peer Gynt Suites conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Peer Gynt - Steinweiss - line notes

In 1948, almost 10 years after Alex Steinweiss proposed the illustrated album cover, Columbia presented the LP format to the public. The advantage over the 78 rpm album was first of all the increased capacity. A symphony on 4 x 78 rpm records could now be engraved on a single long playing disc. The new medium did not need the fat, heavy albums any longer but could do with a simpler sleeve. Many standard sleeves for 78 RPM records in albums were made of Kraft paper, folded together and glued either at the spine and top, or at the top or bottom and as some state with a strip folded inside the sleeve. If this method was applied to sleeves for the new LP record, it could damage the vinyl. (In my collection of 78s all albums and sleeves, post- and prewar, have so called flip back seems, this means that the seams or strips were glued on the outside instead of the inside!)

Now a new sleeve had to be designed for the LP. Columbia asked Steinweiss to design a cover specifically for a single Long Playing Record. That is what he did. He also designed the box set, both for 33 rpm records and for shellac as is shown in the picture of Set MX 291.

Alex Steinweiss and covers made for Columbia Albums in 1947 - photographed by William P. Gottlieb in 1947
Alex Steinweiss with a few of his designs for Columbia records,
photographed by William P. Gottlieb in 1947.
Courtesy of William P. Gottlieb. (Copyright W.P.Gottlieb.)


Alex Steinweiss logo as he used it himself in all his correspondence Alex Steinweiss (March 24, 1917, Brooklyn, New York) graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and was trained by Leon Friend, the school's first art department chairman. Young Alex received a scholarship from Parsons School of Design (New York). He graduated in 1937, and was for two years assistant to Joseph Binder. In 1939 he was retained as Art Director at Columbia Records, and was appointed Advertising Manager for Columbia Records in 1943. From 1943 until the end of the war he was Exhibits Engineer in the US Navy TADC (Tactical Air Direction Center). In 1945 he settled as a free lance designer and consultant, painter and ceramist, working for a variety of companies and industries, including Columbia Records, and was a free lancer ever since. In 1981 he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Ringling School of Art, Sarasota, Florida. He was appointed honorary member of the Board of Directors of Asclo Opera, also in Sarasota. Numerous are the entries in reference books, and articles in magazines beginning in 1940 in Printer's Ink (1940), Art and Industry (1942), Who's Who in America (supplement, October 1943), Down Beat (1947), Graphis Annual, Professional Cartooning, Modern Publicity, etc. He exhibited in galleries and museums in the US and Europe (Great Britain, France, Germany, and other countries). Right from 1939 on he received many awards, a total of at least twenty, the last was in 1993 in Sarasota where he was honored by Temple Emanu-el along with 9 other Sarasota visual artists.- Data from the biographical synopsis sent by Alex Steinweiss and received in the summer of 2002. - R.A.B.

The first design was a sleeve made of rather thin Kraft paper with the opening at the top (1948).

Columbia generic record cover for LP 33 RPM albums

Later Steinweiss came up with the folded cardboard which became the standard of the industry in the USA. His basic design was soon varied upon (in all sorts of forms with the fold at the spine, the two separate sheets with a reinforcement at the spine and/or a reinforcement at the top and bottom seem), but it remained in essence the same, up to this day.

78 RPM sleeve
 
Alex Steinweiss flipback sleeve 1947

Generally a larger sheet with the printed art was folded and glued over the edges. The square sheet with the liner notes was glued on the back, as the drawing shows. The reverse way was also done: the sheet with the liner notes, larger than the actual cardboard, was folded over the edges and the square sheet with the artwork was glued on the front. In some designs the top and bottom seams were reinforced with a small strip of some strong fabric which was glued into the seam.

In Europe various solutions were devised. Early Dutch Philips covers were of the gatefold kind, as were several VOX productions from Great Britain. Deutsche Grammophon had the gatefold with the record compartment glued at the edges with blue linen tape. The records were slipped into a compartment made of somewhat less rough paper. Electrola had a gatefold similar to that of Deutsche Grammophon, also later lined with a plastic sheet (polyurethane?), however not stitched but glued at the edges and the seems bonded with a light colored linen tape.

In later editions of Deutsche Grammophon, from about 1954 on, the gatefold had the stitched compartment lined with plastic sheet. This design had an appeal of quality but many times it was the cause of a damaged, scuffed or scratched record as the LP had to be grabbed at the periphery and pulled out of the flat opening of the compartment. Often the sheets were not opened correctly and the record was slipped in wrongly. The best way to go about is to place the right part of the cover on a flat surface, open the gatefold, then separate the plastic lining and gently take out the record. Form follows function. In hindsight this adagio did not entirely apply to the Deutsche Grammophon covers. The designers may have thought differently at the time, the same as so many designs of today forget about the functionality. Go to the super market and get irritated by products with a confusing, weird packaging, so the client gets lost. Or browse the world wide web and stumble upon several didactically ill designed pages which take up too much time for the visitor who has to find out and understand the way of thought of the person who built the page and who makes navigation more difficult than is in fact necessary. Not with Alex Steinweiss. His design solutions are practical. His artwork is communicative, almost interactive in the modern sense, because of balanced composition and fine detail.

Deutsche Grammophon, Telefunken, Polydor sleeves.

The 7", 10" and 12" of the popular Polydor records had simple covers, also stitched at the sides, the opening at the top. This was in fact a follow up of the heavy felt like covers of the 78 rpm quality labels from before World War Two which were stitched also at the sides.

Later EMI, Decca and Philips in England and Dutch Philips were put in so called flipback covers. In Germany Telefunken and RCA had also a folded cover. The fold was at the bottom and the sides were glued together. The opening was at the top.

As said, in the USA however many Columbia LP records (and in the beginning those of most manufacturers) were put into flimsy, all purpose sleeves with a basic graphic design. It sufficed to print the names of the artists, the title and the reference number on the front and some liner notes or a list of other available records on the back. Many early Remington releases in 1950 and 1951 were also slipped into thin, floppy all purpose, generic sleeves with only different titles printed on the front. Some of the early recordings had already their own art created specifically in relation to the music.

The earliest release of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 conducted by H. Arthur Brown (RLP-199-13) in a paper sleeve, yet already with specific artwork.
Early Remington art work cover of Tchaikovsky Symphony Pathetique
The pre-Steinweiss cover of the recording of Hans Wolf conducting Symphony No. 2 of Johannes Brahms on RLP-199-19. Cover by Sherman Alpert.
Cover for the Second Symphony of Johannes Brahms by Sherman Alpert for Remington Records
Another pre-Steinweiss cover:
RLP-199-50 with Debussy played by
Edward Kilenyi.
The initials of the designer
are EDL, the year is 1951.
Edward Kilenyi plays Debussy 12 Preludes Book 1 Record sleeve by EDL
Kilenyi plays Debussy Preludes new design
The later cover for Debussy's Preludes Book 1 designed by Curt John Witt.

Many of the designs for the early Remington red-label productions were made by a man named Freeman. Other names that came up were of Sherman Alpert, Raboni, and for Plymouth it was Roy E. La Gione. When profits had been made, the product's appeal could be improved upon to further boost the turnover. Now new sleeves were designed by someone whose initials were E.D.L., by Einhorn and already by Curt John Witt who also made many covers for the Plymouth releases which often contained the recorded material originally issued on Remington. Instead of pictures of the artists and listings of other recordings available, now the covers had liner notes. As no initials or a name of the author was mentioned, it is unclear who wrote the liner notes. It is possible that also some were written by George Curtiss, Don Gabor's cousin and managing director of the Webster pressing plant in Massachusetts.

As the competition was growing, producer Don Gabor was convinced that he needed the full attention of the buyer and that he should have covers that
Alex Steinweiss: early label designed for Remington Records.
The first Remington label designed by Alex Steinweiss.
were well designed and that the style should have distinctive features in order to be recognized so the discs would be able to compete with the products of the big companies. So why not ask the man who designed the covers for Columbia Masterworks, Alex Steinweiss, to develop a corporate image and a basic design for the covers and the label of Remington records.

Alex Steinweiss designed a new basic layout for the label, the covers of Remington LPs, and for the company's business presentation. In fact Steinweiss designed a complete corporate image for Don Gabor's company. He designed the third Remington label, the black-gold label with the letters REMINGTON placed in boxes arranged in a circle at the periphery of the label, including a box with a crown. Above the nomenclature (in the upper half of the label) the text "A Don Gabor Production" was placed in Steinweiss hand-drawn lettering, later copyrighted as "Steinweiss Scrawl".

The same elements adorned the covers. On the left the letters REMINGTON were placed in boxes in a vertical row, topped by a box with the same "A Don Gabor Production" and at the bottom a box with the crown. Furthermore the logo with laurels was replaced by a new oval emblem with the text Complete Audible Range Reproduction, a logo that was to suggest the same quality as Full Frequency Range Recording (English Decca and London), New Orthophonic High Fidelity(RCA), Living Presence(Mercury), Full Dimensional Sound (Capitol), etc.

Alex Steinweiss designed logo, stationery, basic lay out, corporate image for Remington Records, New York.
Designed by Alex Steinweiss: 'A Don Gabor Production', the crown, the vertical row of boxes which spelled REMINGTON, plus the heading on the stationery (and other documents) with the slogan 'music for millions', the capital R on the catalog with the Remington logo, and the black/gold sticker with the important text 'factory sealed', they were, from July 1952 on, the elements defining the corporate image of Remington Records Inc. The Musirama recordings were announced in the 1953 catalog and the new label was introduced in the following year.

When better recordings were made under the supervision of both Laszlo Halasz and Don Gabor, and improved microphone placement was used (and probably devised) by Gabor's technician Robert Blake (Blake later recorded for the Everest label as a few covers indicate). This microphone technique was named MUSIRAMA, indicated by a triangular logo put on the cover. MUSIRAMA was also added to the label. The earlier "A Don Gabor Production" logo with laurels was replaced by the atomic symbol and the wording "3 dimensional sound".


The graphics of the labels are extremely beautiful because of the combination of a serif typeface for the label name - REMINGTON - and a sans serif, gothic type for reference numbers and the description of the contents of the recording. Steinweiss also designed a basic layout for the back of the cover to complement the new style of the MUSIRAMA editions: frames, typefaces for titles, liner notes and reference numbers, positioning of logo, etc.

Alex Steinweiss - lay-out for the liner notes on the back of the Musirama albums.

Alex Steinweiss is noted for his Columbia covers and one easily gets the impression that this was the only label he worked for. But it is significant that he designed the covers for other labels as well. And he worked with other designers and artists like Curt John Witt (later covers indicate "Curt John Witt Design House"; he also designed for Allegro Royale and Opera Society), Leonard Slonevski, Wattly and Otto Rado. And Albitz and H. Kaebitz. From Kaebitz's hand is the cover of Symphony Fantastique. It displays a sinister purple color, and a cross adorned with faces. He also designed the covers for the Young Violinist's Edition of Alice and Theodore Pashkus. Albitz is the artist of Kilenyi's Liszt album where on a purple background the shapes of a grand piano and candles with flickering flames indicate the romanticism which was seen a couple of years earlier in the 1945 biopic of Liszt's contemporary Chopin, "A song to Remember", where Merle Oberon (as George Sand) walked into the non-lit room and places the candelabras on the grand piano, thus revealing that Frederick Chopin (Cornel Wilde) was playing instead of Franz Liszt, what everybody expected. (The piano part was played by José Irturbi).

 


GABOR IN BERLIN
The Albitz Covers - 1954

Don Gabor and Laszlo Halasz supervised the MUSIRAMA recordings made with the RIAS Symphony in Berlin. It is not sure if Gabor was present during all recordings, but it is known from the Varèse-Sarabande, 'The Remington Series', that Gabor visited Berlin in any case on several occasions, while Halasz was always present when recordings of the orchestra were made. At times also Remington recording engineer Robert Blake traveled to Berlin.

Both Gabor and Halasz were of European origin and they certainly took part in the Berlin cultural life after production hours. There was still a lot of suffering going on, because of the vast destruction of the city during the years of war. But there was also a new élan to rebuild Berlin and its culture, and a new Germany. The will to move forward and make things better was also illustrated in 1953 with the uprising in the Russian sector. That was the Berlin in which Gabor and Halasz arrived and were going to make recordings in 1954, in West Berlin.

Gabor and Halasz were moving in artistic circles meeting other producers (for example those of the Bertelsmann firm), radio people (when negotiating the recording of the Glazunov Violin Concerto with Roman Totenberg), musicians, various conductors they engaged, and artists. In this way they got acquainted with the artistic and intellectual life in Berlin of 1954. It is very plausible that they met with Ruth Geiss who was married to Hans Albitz. Hans and Ruth Albitz were a young designer couple in their early thirties at the time and had made a name in Germany already.

It is known that Gabor - together with Steinweiss - supervised the creation of record covers. Records were pressed in the Remington pressing plant in Massachusetts. The covers were printed there as well. Spending time in Berlin making recordings would postpone several releases of new material. And that is why Gabor could have asked the Albitz couple, or specifically Ruth Albitz, to do a few covers for recordings that were in the making or had been done with the RIAS Symphony. Another reason could be that Gabor always had an eye for the unusual to have the Remington label stand out. Covers designed in Europe could add to the quality. And on top of that, Gabor loved art.

Sei schön und charmant from 1953 with drawings by Ruth AlbitzThe covers for the recordings of the RIAS Symphony Orchestra with Manuel Rosenthal, Edward Kilenyi and Jonel Perlea, and the recording with Gerhard Becker, bear the name Albitz. Although there are American people with the name Albitz, these covers must have been designed by the Albitz couple, and specifically the Gerhard Becker recording by Ruth Albitz. The style of that cover reminds one of the cover for the book 'Sei Schön und Charmant' (Be Beautiful and Charming) by author Alma Archer, with drawings by Ruth Albitz-Geiss. The influence of her husband is seen in the more formal designs.

Note that the cover for the recording of French Overtures conducted by Gerhard Becker does not indicate the designer, and that the cover for the orchestral Medley from The Beggar Student, also conducted by Gerhard Becker, was designed by Otto Rado.

Gabor could have followed the same procedure in case of the covers for the recordings of George Sebastian (Symphonie fantastique, Wagner Overtures, Wagner Favorites). This would indicate that H. Kaebitz is also a German graphic designer, recruted during one of Gabor's stays. Kaebitz is also responsible for the cover for the recording of Boite a Joujoux conducted by Manuel Rosenthal. H. Kaebitz made the covers for the Young Violinist's Series (Shermont and Schulhof) as well.- Rudolf A. Bruil - February, 2014

(See also Facebook Page of Iria Costas with specific art created by women.)

 

Rudolph de Harak (1924–2002) designed three covers for Don Gabor, two for a Remington releases and another for a Pontiac release, around 1952. He later became famous for designs for the Metropolitan Museum, the United States Pavilion at the Osaka World Fair, for 'Man Planet Space' in Montreal, 1967. He also designed the 'Quadra' typeface and more than 400 book jackets for McGraw-Hill's book division.
Also an artist named Riser provided record jacket art.

Steinweiss himself designed covers, and he coordinated the work of the other artists as well. In the beginning existing covers were adapted to the new lay out. But as soon as new recordings were to be released, new artwork was made and even particular covers that were already restyled, were replaced by covers with new art work. The most significant example is Edward Kilenyi's recording of the Chopin Waltzes which could be obtained in (at least) two different editions.

Alex Steinweiss Kreisler Encores with Steinwiss Scrawl
Another noted cover by Alex Steinweiss for Remington R-199-126 with the Steinweiss Scrawl in abundance: Violinist Michèle Auclair plays Kreisler Encores accompanied by pianist Otto Schulhof.

The designs made by Steinweiss for Remington are not always as elaborate as most of the covers he did for Columbia Records. But there are exceptions of course. An example is the beautiful cover for R-199-128 with violinist Michèle Auclair and cellist Gaspar Cassado playing gems.
However, the similarities in style are obvious. The Remington covers have an originality of their own which is also brought about by the vertical logo (designed by Steinweiss) on the left of the cover which had to be "integrated" in the artwork. Integration also applied to the triangle of the MUSIRAMA logo which was added lateron.


PMS Pantone Matching System PMS created in 1963 by Lawrence HerbertThe designs of the Remington covers are at times a bit simple and reflect a somewhat childish optimism, one could say. To a large extend this style was imposed by the technique of plate production and the printing process available in those days, a technique which had its restrictions. The intensity and shade of colors varied as in those days the Pantone Matching System (PMS) - which was devised by Lawrence Herbert in 1963 and has been the reference for designers, art directors, and printers ever since - did not yet exist. The mixing of the paint was not always done in the same manner. So if you encounter a pale cover, there is no deliberate argument behind it. It is just a print from ink/paint of a different mix.

Many covers witness the personalities of the various designing artists who (often guided by Steinweiss) and reflected the nature of the music in their work.

Cover by Alex Steinweiss for LP issued commemorating 5 years of Columbia LP Record
A "golden" laminated cover by Steinweiss at the occasion of the 5th Anniversary of Columbia's Long Playing record, September 1953, with popular music of Tchaikovsky conducted by Eugene Ormandy. The style for the LPs of Columbia is often more sophisticated and more serious by the use of darker tones. By exception this cover has the designer's name written in his famous scrawl which is unusual for Columbia covers.
Velde - cover design for Levant Gershwin Concerto in F with Kostelanetz
As free lance art director of Columbia Alex Steinweiss also supervised the work of other artists like he supervised several designers for the Remington label. This cover of Gershwin's Concerto in F with pianist Oscar Levant and Andre Kostelanetz conducting the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York on Columbia ML 4025 is by artist Velde and created in 1950 more or less in the Steinweiss vein.

Steinweiss's covers distinguish themselves by the hand writing (the Steinweiss scrawl): names of artists, location of recording, the works recorded. So even if his name is not mentioned, the original artist is generally recognized. Steinweiss is the one who at times uses more pastel colors and fine lines as for the covers of Scheherazade with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra and the cover of Piano Encores (not displayed).

Publisher Taschen from Los Angeles prepared a new publication about Alex Steinweiss and his work: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover compiled and written by Kevin Reagan, Steven Heller and Alex Steinweiss, published October, 2009. It is a celebration of ninety year old Alexander Steinweiss who personally signed every book (which has the shape of an old illustrated 78 rpm record album but is somewhat larger in size). The book itself is extremely well designed and printed, and is overflowing with innumerable reproductions of covers and other Steinweiss graphics.

Alex Steinweiss Taschen's big and signed book
Curt John Witt Orpheus and Eurydice for the Opera Society (MMS)

Curt John Witt's cover design for The Opera Society recording of Orpheus and Eurydice (Gluck) - M142 OP25.

Curt John Witt who did many covers for Remington, has his own signature of style. His designs initially have calmness and simplicity like the cover for Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony (displayed at the end of this page). He also designed one of the covers for the Waltzes of Chopin on R-199-82 (not displayed). Lateron his designs have bright and intense colors and straight lines: Chopin's 4 Scherzi played by Jorge Bolet and the recording with music of American composers Ward and Stein. He just uses a few colors evoking the modernism of Gershwin's Concerto in F. He could have been the artist who designed the Prokofiev cover on which no name is mentioned. Some covers just state Curt John Witt, while other covers mention: "Design House - Curt John Witt". Witt worked for other labels as well. He designed the cover for The Opera Society's edition of the 2 10" LP set in a gatefold of Gluck's "Orpheus and Eurydice" performed by The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus under Nicolas Goldschmidt and Dutch singers Léon Combé, Corry Bijster and Anette de la Bije.(The Opera Society was a label of the Concert Hall Society/Musical Masterpieces Society.) See: The Covers of Curt John Witt. His work can also be found on many covers of Eli Oberstein's Pseudonyms on Allegro/Royale releases.
Otto Rado Cover for Rimnsky-Korsakov Scheherazade conducted by  Argeo Quadri
The cover Otto Rado did for Westminster's release of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade conducted by Argeo Quadri. And the cover for Urania 7112 released in 1954 with Fritz Kirmse performing Malipiero's Violin Concerto with Rudolf Kleinert conducting the Orchestra of Radio Leipzig and Saschko Grawiloff as soloist in Rakov's Violin Concerto with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arthur Rother.
Gianfrancesco Malipiero, Nikolai Petrovich Rakov, Violin Concertos, Saschko Gavrilov, Arthur Rother.

Slonevski and Wattly use styles which have a more common and plain quality if compared to the other, brighter designs. And Rudolph de Harak designed in a sober style.

On the cover of the recording of Dvorak's 4th (8th) Symphony designer Otto Rado beautifully expressed a pastoral mood. In that way he accentuates the sense of beauty. His love for the use of gold can also be seen in the cover for Westminster's 1953 Scheherazade release (WL 5234, Argeo Quadri conducting). For Westminster's recording of Bach's Dt. Matthew Passion under Hermann Scherchen he created a simple illustration with an added perspective of the divine light (WAL 401). Rado also worked for the Urania label as illustrated by the release of the Violin Concertos of Rakov and Malipiero. Extraordinary is his art for the 3 LP Remington box of Verdi's Aida conducted by Franco Capuana. That is a collectible item for reasons of both performance and cover design.

Alex Steinweiss cover for Decca recording of Les illuminations - Benjamin Britten
An example of - obviously - a new creative phase in the output of Alexander Steinweiss: The cover of the recording of Benjamin Britten's Les Illuminations and Norman Dello Joio's Meditations Ecclesiastes. Signed in the famous 'Steinweiss scrawl' as used for early Columbia and Remington records.
Janice Harsanyi, Soprano, and the Princeton Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Harsanyi - Decca DL 710138.
Alexander Steinweiss design of Decca records label
Alex Steinweiss Decca inner sleeve
The arrangement of the label name and graphic motifs in a circle was more or less initiated by Steinweiss in the creation of the style for the Remington labels. From then on this arrangement is a trait of Steinweiss's style. He applied the same idea in the labels for American Decca. The inner sleeves have a luxurious design explaining to the eye that it is about a recording in Decca's Gold Label Series.

The very personal style of Alex Steinweiss is also seen in the early album covers for Bob Whyte's Everest records and the design of the early labels of the Everest releases. Again he arranged the label's name in a circle and he choose specific colors. To add to the significance of the Everest releases the label mentioned "A CERTIFIED STEREO-MASTER RECORDING" (somewhat like the CARR emblem and the MUSIRAMA logo on the Remington labels). The early Everest issues had this very distinctive basic design, the specific fonts included.

Alex Steinweiss: Everest green label
Alexander Steinweiss Everest Mahler Symphony No. 5
Alex Steinweiss: Everest purple label
The silver/green/black label was the original label designed by Steinweiss and matched the basic layout for the covers with two blue stripes. The same typeface was used on label and cover. Both the box of Mahler's 5th with Rudolf Schwarz (SDBR 3014-2), and the cover of "Around the World in 80 Days" (SDBR 1020) state: Cover design by Alex Steinweiss, as does the cover of Leopold Stokowsky conducting Villa-Lobos' masterpiece Uirapuru on SDBR 3016.
Alex Steinweiss Everest Uirapuru and Cinderella
Alexander Steinweiss Cover for Around the World in Eighty Days
Design by Alex Steinweiss of Everest back lp design liner notes
The liner notes about the music and performers, and the technical information about the recording in three columns below the liner notes, were framed in a similar lay-out.
When only stereo compatible issues were released the dominant indication STEREO was omitted as the cover of the Petrouchka recording by Sir Eugene Goossens shows (SDBR 3033). But then also the quality of the pressings became less and less and eventually the label became the budget label where quality of mastering and vinyl did not matter and Everest lost the glory it originally had.
Alex Steinweiss Everest SDtravinsky Petrouchka

NOTE The labels on the Columbia records were actually simple and plain. They followed a common pattern. But that was going to evolve. In this context it would be logical to assume that the later labels for Columbia, mentioning composers, works, and performers, reference numbers, Side One and Two, etc. were designed by Alex Steinweiss as well. That is however not the case. The famous Columbia 6-Eye labels were created by famous designer Sadamitsu Neil Fujita when working for Columbia Records in the nineteen fifties. He started off as a painter but choose for design to make a living and designed for Columbia. After he had left Columbia in 1957 he worked for Command Records, various publishing houses, etc. S. Neil Fujita, Graphic Designer was interviewed by Steven Heller in 2007.
S. Neil Fujita design of Columbia 6 Eye red mono label
S. Neil Fujita: Columbia 6 eye gray-black stereo label

The application of artwork and the use of very distinctive graphics for the early Everest covers is the more remarkable while by that time the trend was gradually changing towards the use of photographs combined with graphics and finally just using pictures with lettering.

In the early years of advertising, objects and people were depicted in drawings in black and white and later in color.
When new, more cost effective printing techniques became available, art directors and copywriters started to work together with photographers who were commissioned to shoot photos along the lines of the art director's concept. Gradually the graphic artist was replaced by the photographer completely. The art director designed the basic layout and choose the picture and the various typefaces. This trend was initiated by RCA in the early nineteenfifties, and was followed by many a record company.

Robert Shaw Chorale: record cover with photograph from 1954
RCA Daphnis and Chloe, photograph taken by David B. Hecht
RCA photograph cover Gaite Parisienne Arthur Fiedler

These covers of RCA LM-1815 and LM-1893 set the trend of using photographs instead of graphics and specific artwork.

At left Victor LM 1817 from 1954 with an inspiring, sexy photograph covering Gaité Parisienne performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler. This recording was one of the first RCA stereo recordings but could only be released as a Living Stereo issue in 1958. Later another recording was done with Fiedler and released on LSC 2267 with a new cover.

The earliest examples of the use of photographs exclusively can be found on several RCA covers. From 1954 is the release of With Love From A Chorus on LM-1815, sung by the Robert Shaw Chorale. Also famous is the cover of Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Robert Shaw Chorale under conductor Charles Munch on LM-1893 from 1955. It has a distinct new style, as has the RCA cover of the 1956 release of My True Love Sings again by the Robert Shaw Chorale on LM-1998. From then on also older recordings were reissued in covers adorned with photographs. This was however not the case with the release of Offenbach's Gaité Parisienne conducted by Arthur Fiedler of which there was an earlier recording from 1950 issued on LM 1001. The release on LM 1817 was a new recording and had a sexy picture of a voluptuous leg of a cancan dancer.

Paul Huf photographed Ann Pickford for the Philips S-L series
Paul Huf Scheherazade cover for Philips
Philips SL Series Ann Pickford as ballerina
Hal Reif photography for Columbia Cover

The early designs with the Robert Shaw Chorale on RCA from 1954 and 1956 may have inspired many a photographer and designer, like famous Dutch photographer Paul Huf when he made the covers for the Philips S-L Series with model Ann Pickford from England and typography by Harry van Borssum, launched in 1956.
Proof of this inspiration is Huf's cover for the Piano Concertos of Franz Liszt performed by pianist Cor de Groot and the Recidency Orchestra conducted by Willem van Otterloo, reminiscing the lady in red on the early RCA cover. The same applies to his cover for Ballet Music by Delibes and Gounod with conductor Jean Fournet. Nevertheless Paul Huf's is a very artistic and imaginative style.
In a similar style is the photography for the Scheherazade recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy.
Columbia naturally had covers designed in the same trend which was pioneered by RCA as shows the late release on LP of Oscar Levant's Gershwin recordings originally made in the 78 rpm era. The photographer was Hal Reif.

Buck Clayton Jam Session on 12 inch Philips LP - the cover combining graphics and photographs
Philips Records cover with photograph of Buck Clayton - BUCK CLAYTON JAM SESSION with Robin's Nest and Huckle-Buck
Two different covers for Buck Clayton's most famous Jam Session on Philips B 07022 L: Buck Clayton and Joe Newman (trumpets), Urbie Green and Henderson Chambers (trombones), Lem Davis (alto sax), Julian Dash (tenor sax), Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax), Sir Charles Thompson (piano), Freddie Green (piano), Walter Page (bass), and Jo Jones (Drums). The titles: The Huckle-Buck, and Robin's Nest.

An example of the new trend to use photography in combination with graphics, and the use of plain photography is the release by Philips of the Columbia recording CL 548 which was first issued in the spring of 1954. The early hybrid design (graphics and pictures) of Philips B 07022 L, was eventually replaced by a powerful picture of Buck Clayton playing the trumpet. The second edition was pressed from new plates and released around 1957. Although Alex Steinweiss already combined graphics and bits of photographic images in the nineteen forties on the 78 rpm albums.

In the late 1950s many an old Remington recording had a new disguise with a photograph on the cover and were now available on one or several of Gabor's other labels like Masterseal, Paris, Webster, and Palace. In 1958 the Remington label was discontinued.
Below is the cover of Palace M-601 with Tchaikovsky (Romeo and Juliet Overture) and Grieg (Peer Gynt Suite No. 1), played with the Viennese Symphonic Orchestra under fake conductor Kurt Baumann, a substitute for Kurt Wöss (Tchaikovsky) as well as H. Arthur Brown (Grieg).

Don Gabor's Palace record in cover with photograph

Continental label revived in the 1960s but now with recordings done in stereo

When Don Gabor had revived his Continental label in the nineteen sixties he once in a while issued a beautiful gatefold edition like this disk with Gypsy Music played by Markoff and his Romany Strings on CST-2005.

After the craze of using photography had more or less passed, new generations of artists were designing labels and covers and corporate house-styles. Now al styles and techniques were used side by side, many times inspired by the pioneers of the early days.
Many record collectors and artists regret that the small size of the jewel case of the CD gives less opportunity to make an artistic cover. But within the restrictions there are quite a few remarkable CD covers and booklets. Yet, the CD with art work and the small lettering is sometimes qualified as neat or cute, while an LP cover can be utterly impressive.

Remarkable is that the great Alex Steinweiss was the creator of the basic design for a budget label like Don Gabor's Remington LP records.
He did this from 1952 on, till about 1958 when the Remington label ceased to exist. By doing this he added to the importance of the label and made Remington records easily recognizable. His basic concept had to be filled in by other artists and designers as well. He gave them enough freedom to express their own artistry.

Rudolf A. Bruil - Page first published, September 2001 - and updated since.
All covers from my private record collection, except for Plymouth P-12-113..

On Sunday, July 17th, 2011, the media reported that Alex Steinweiss had died at the age of 94 in Sarasota, Florida, where he had lived already for many decades. See Alex Steinweiss Obituary - Steven Heller's Article in New York Times of July 20, 2011.


----- THE REMINGTON COVERS -----

Alex Steinweiss LP cover for R-199-116 Goyescas Frieda Valenzi
At left the Steinweiss cover for Goyescas (Granados) played by pianist Frieda Valenzi. At right one of the two Steinweiss covers for the complete set of Paganini Caprices played by violinist Ossy Renardy with Eugene Helmer at the piano..
Alex Steinweiss LP cover for Ossy Renardy plays Paganini Caprices on Remington
In most cases Steinweiss's designs for Remington are not as elaborate as those he made for Columbia. Yet the covers for Dvorak's Slavonic Dances and Contemporary Piano Compositions (Kodaly, Kabalevsky, Bartok) are very effective. The exquisite beauty of the cover for the release of Schubert's Tragic (4th) Symphony conducted by Kurt Wöss is striking.
Steinweiss LP cover for R-199-133 Sari Biro plays Bartok Kabelevsky and Bartok
Alex Steinweiss LP cover for Remington - Tragic Symphony Schubert Kurt Wöss
Alex Steinweiss LP cover for Remington R-199-106
Alex Steinweiss LP cover - Frieda Valenzi Franck Symphonic Variations Remington
 
  Above two more Steinweiss covers: Dvorak's Slavonic Dances with Georges Singer conducting and Variations Symphoniques (Franck) with pianist Frieda Valenzi. At right Scarlatti Sonatas played by harpsichordist Sylvia Marlow.
Steinweiss design for Sylvia Marlowe Scarlatti Bach Couperin harpsichord Remington recording
Steinweiss design of LP cover for Scheherazade recording by H. Arthur Brown and Karl Rucht on R-199-11
At left the cover by Steinweiss for Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. The same cover was used for the H. Arthur Brown recording as well as the performance with conductor Karl Rucht. Both with the same reference number R-199-11. At right the restyled cover for the vocal highlights of the opera Carmen (Bizet) with the Paris Opera conducted by Jean Alain, R-199-15.
Remington LP cover for vocal highlights of the opera Carmen 
        (Bizet) with the Paris Opera conducted by Jean Alain, R-199-15
Steinweiss LP cover for Carlos Montoya plays Flamenco - Remington
Carlos Montoya plays the guitar and Lydia Ibarrondo sings on R-199-134 . This cover is also by Steinweiss as is the cover for pianist Alexander Jenner's recording of Etudes (Studies) Op. 25 of Frederic Chopin, first released in December 1951 at the same time as Kilenyi's Etudes Op. 10 recording on R-199-57. The cover is from the fall of 1952.
Steinweiss LP cover for Alexander Jenner playinf Chopin - Remington
R-199-7
Witt LP cover for Sibelius R-199-201
Witt LP cover for R-199-95
R-199-164 Curt John Witt
A rather simple cover for Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony on the old style Remington label (RLP-199-7) by Curt John Witt. Sibelius 5th Symphony (R-199-201), Beethoven's Violin Sonatas Nos. 2 and 8 (R-199-95), and the Sibelius / Glazunov (R-199-191) are more elaborate. Kilenyi's Brahms (R-199-164), Bach played by Jörg Demus (R-199-92), Stravinsky / Prokofiev with Eugen Szenkar, and Mozart's Requiem with Joseph Messner are also by Witt.
Curt John Witt Stravinsky Prokofiev LP
R-199-191
R-199-92 by Curt John Witt
Curt John Witt's cover for Mozart's Requiem
Rise LP cover  for Kilenyi's Schumann-Chopin Remington record
At left a rare cover designed by Rise, an unknown artist, for Kilenyi's Schumann/Chopin recording.
At right the cover for Conrad Hansen's Tchaikovsky Op. 23 with the RIAS Symphony.
Curt John Witt - Conrad Hansen plays Tchaikovsky
Curt John Witt LP cover Alec Templeton plays Gershwin Concerto in F R-199-184
Curt John Witt's cover for Gershwin's Concerto in F illustrates the modernity of the work, the energy, and where it was composed.
Next to it the recording of compositions by Leon Stein and Robert Ward with a daring combination of red and orange shades of colors.
Witt LP cover for Thor Johnson's recording of works by Leon Stein and Robert Ward

At right the cover for the recording of Chopin's Scherzi played by Jorge Bolet. The cover is by Curt John Witt - Remington R-199-161. At left the cover for Strauss Waltzes performed bu Kurt Wöss and Felix Guenther.

See also
The Covers of Curt John Witt

Leonard Slonevsky was a member of the Design House. He did the cover for Alec Templeton's Offenbach and Strauss Improvisarions.
Cover by Leonard Slonevsky
 
Albitz LP cover for Remington R-199-166
The cover designed by Albitz for the excellent recording of Franz Liszt's Concerto No. 1 and Totentanz played by Edward Kilenyi on Remington R-199-166. The design was possibly inspired by the biopic 'A Song To Remember' made of Liszt's contemporary Frederic Chopin (1945), and specifically the scene when supposedly Franz Liszt is playing in a dark salon and George Sand (Merle Oberon) enters with a candelabra and lightens up the room and the minds of the invited listeners. It is not Franz Liszt who is playing, but Frederic Chopin.
Three other covers by Albitz are for Manuel Rosenthal's Gaité Parisienne with the RIAS Symphony - Remington R-199-172, for Rosenthal's Offenbachiana (R-199-183) and for Gerhard Becker's recording of Selections from The Merry Widdow (Franz Lehar) and One Night in Venice (Johann Strauss) on Remington R-199-170.
  H. Kaebitz created a strong cover for Symphony Fantastique (R-199-176).
The covers for the two Wagner programs played by the RIAS Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Sebastian are also from his hand: R-199-174 and R-199-177 respectively.
Kaebitz LP cover for Remington R-199-176

The cover for the Young Violinist's Editions is also by Kaebitz.

It is not sure if either Kaebitz or Albitz made the design for the Diamant releases of Remington recordings issued by Gabor in Germany.

 

Rudolph de Harak designed a sober cover for Zoltan Fekete's Bruckner Symphony No. 3 on R-199-138.

 
Rudolph de Harak Cover for Songs of the Trail
Also by Rudolph de Harak is the cover for Remington R-199-8 with Beethoven's 7th Symphony conducted by Kurt Wòss and for the LP "Songs of the Trail", a Pontiac release (P-533).
  At right Einhorn's cover for the 10" Remington R-1032: Cafe Society Swing.
 

 

Einhorn's cover for the 10" Remington (R-1028) with The Blue Danube, Estudianta, Acceleration Waltz, and a selection from The Fledermaus, all played by the Vienna Radio Orchestra.

Einhorn's design for the cover of The Blue Danube on Remington R-1028
In general the covers for the Remington records were more elaborate than those for the Merit and Plymouth-Merit labels. Exceptions are several covers made by Einhorn. For instance for the Plymouth-Merit P-10-20 release of selections of Bizet's Carmen performed by "French opera company", the equivalent of R-199-15. And there is the Plymouth-Merit release of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Op. 15 played and conducted by Fritz Egger on PL12-25.
Einhorn cover for Selections from Carmen on Plymouth LP P-10-20
The theme of the Plymouth-Merit release with Cesar Franck's Symphony in D (P-12-4) is the same as on the second edition of Remington R-199-36, the performance conducted by Hans Wolf.
Einhorn's version of the Cesar Franck cover made by Curt John Witt.
At right the Merit cover made by Wattley for H. Arthur Brown's Schubert Unfinished Symphony. At far right the Steinweiss cover for baritone Mack Harrell's recital on R-199-140.
Wattley cover for Plymouth Arthur H. Brown Schubert Unfinished Symphony

Gold, green and red are the elements Otto Rado used to depict his idea of Dvorak's 4th (8th) Symphony performed by the Cincinnati Symphony under Thor Johnson (R-199-168)

R-199-168 Otto Rado design
Otto Rado Carlos Montaya Spanish Gypsy Airs Remington LP Record
Otto Rado's use of vivid colors in a dynamic drawing for the boxed set of the Aida recording are inspirational. His cover art was most certainly an incentive for buying the 3 LP box of Verdi's masterpiece. Click on the cover to enlarge the front of the boxed set R-199-178/3. He may also have been responsible for the artwork on the Kreisler recording of Michèle Auclair and Gaspar Cassado.
Otto Rado AIDA box
Otto Rado cover for Plymouth LP with Violin Concerto of Tchaikovsky
The performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto by Michèle Auclair and Kurt Wöss was issued on Plymouth P-12-121. But then the violinist is named Renée Marcel and the orchestra the Europe Symphony Orchestra. It was released in another flamboyant design by Rado.
The Gay Parisienne - Otto Rado Cover for Plymouth LP
The recording of Gaité Parisienne with cover by Albitz was duplicated on Plymouth with a cover by Otto Rado. The selections from The Beggar Student was also from Rado's hand.
Rado's designs for the Carlos Montoya recordings depict the exuberant and extravert nature of the flamenco. (R-199-171 and R-199-179). Yellow and red seem to be his favorite colors as is evident also in the Gay Parisienne Plymouth LP. Yet it is not sure if he did the artwork for the cover of Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto with pianist Jorge Bolet and conductor Thor Johnson (R-199-182).
At lower right his cover for the Plymouth title Jazz, Bebop, Blues (PL-12-113).
Otto Rado Carlos Montoya Remington LP Cover

R-199-182
Jazz, Bebop, Blues - Plymouth P-12-113

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