Donald Gabor had established his major LP-label Remington, in 1950,
he was the man who exploited its growing catalog to the full. Not
only by changing and improving the covers in order to give the records
a new appeal and thus stimulating the sales, but also by releasing
the same recordings on his other labels like Merit, Etude, Webster,
Pontiac, Plymouth and Masterseal. A few Masterseal releases were already
listed in 1951. But these were the early, luxurious gatefold editions
Prawy as the producer. The other labels are first listed in the
September 1953 Schwann LP Catalogue. 'The Long Player', the other
important record guide in those days, only listed the Remington recordings.
way to stimulate sales of his classical recordings was by producing
series aiming at specific target groups: children, students, educators
and collectors. This idea materialized in a special series like
Violinist's Edition supervised by Theodore and Alice Pashkus,
but also in the Music Plus! Series, edited by famous musicologist
Dr. Sigmund Spaeth, who later supervised the Music Appreciation Library
Series for Gabor's Palace label. Above at right the cover of the issue
of Hen Gates and his Gaters in the Music Appreciation Library Series
which was released earlier on Masterseal MSLP 5005 together with other
jazz songs, and these were also issued on Plymouth P12-144.
Gabor himself had many original ideas, he also copied ideas from others.
The name Music Appreciation Library was inspired by the existence
of the Music Appreciation Recordings of the Book of the Month Club.
And since 1952 David and Josef Josefowitz of Concert Hall
operated their record subscription series named
Musical Masterpiece Society and that with great success.
Shown here is an advertisement of the Book of the Month Club's Series
with the recording of the 6th Symphony of Tchaikovsky (Pathétique)
conducted by Leonard Bernstein, and the release of Prokofiev's Classical
Symphony (with an analysis by Thomas Sherman) and Britten's Young
Person Guide to the Orchestra (narrated by Alfred Wallenstein).
from the start,
Gabor wanted that Remington was a label to be reckoned with.
He not only saw the necessity of quality artwork for the covers, but
found that the liner notes were important as well. In the first year
there were lists of available recordings printed on the back of the
covers. But soon informative liner notes, mostly written by noted
critics and journalists (and supposedly in some cases by Don Gabor's
cousin George Curtiss), explained the music. A writer for early releases
was Herman Neuman.
the looks of the covers improved, Gabor hired famous critics and musicologists
like Dr. Sigmund Spaeth, John W. Freeman and Irving Kolodin,
along with other writers and music critics who were either newcomers
or already had established their names in the world of newspapers,
magazines and the recording industry: Louis Biancolli, Betty Reinman,
Max de Schauensee, Irving Sablosky, Jerome Boehm (most of the
time spelled Bohm), Bertram Stanleigh, Herbert Weinstock, Jack
Urbont, Sheldon Soffer and Jay S. Harrison.
Some wrote the liner notes for one specific release, others took responsibility
for several albums.
Despite the valuable and professional work of these writers, sometimes
their names would not appear on a cover and often the liner notes
were replaced by listings of other Remington records accompanied by
quotes from critics and reviewers. This was especially the case when
Remington records had become a commodity of department stores and
petrol stations and the label had lost its credibility with the serious
collector and reviewer.
One important musicologist and writer
was Dr. Sigmund Spaeth (April 10, 1885, Philadelphia - November
12, 1965, New York). Spaeth started off as a folklorist collecting
American songs. He published his findings in 'Read 'Em and Weep' and
'Weep Some More, My Lady'. He is also the author of 'History of Popular
Music in America', 'The Common Sense of Music', 'The Importance of
Music', and 'Stories Behind the World's Greatest Music'.
Spaeth was one of the composers who wrote music for the movies 'Show
Boat' and 'The Trespasser', and he wrote the score for 'The Magic
Flame'. These films were made when 'the talkie' was launched. He himself
appeared in the movie 'Frankie and Johnnie'.
Spaeth is quoted on the back of several Remington-covers: 'Across
the country, Remington's low priced long play classical high fidelity
records are staging a full scale cultural invasion.'
At around the age of 66, Dr. Spaeth started his involvement with Remington
Records writing the liner notes for several recordings. An example
is R-199-87 with Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and 1812 Festival
Overture performed by the Austrian Symphony Orchestra conducted by
The cover of Masterseal MSLP 5008 has Spaeth's notes for Beethoven's
Symphony No. 5 and Schubert's Symphony No. 8, conducted by Kurt Wöss.
The recording was later re-released in a Masterseal cover as Remington
R-199-246 around 1958. His notes also appear on Masterseal MSLP
5012 with Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov. That release mentions
Kurt Wöss as the conductor while the recording is the one by
Karl Rucht and the RIAS Symphony Orchestra.
also wrote the notes for these discs:
R-199-94 - Bartok plays Bartok - Bela Bartok at the piano.
Palace M-601 -Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture, Grieg:
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, said to be conducted by Kurt Baumann, but these
are in fact the recordings conducted by Kurt Wöss and H. Arthur
No Remington disc with this coupling conducted by Wöss could
be found. Beethoven's Fifth was released on a 10" disc (R-149-9)
with the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra conducted by Hans Wolf and Schubert's
Eighth Symphony was originally a recording with conductor H. Arthur
Brown (R-149-15). The name Wöss seems a convenient substitute,
especially after Brown had fallen from grace.
Spaeth's notes from Remington releases were reprinted on various other
Masterseal albums. Before
the exploitation of the full Masterseal catalogue had started, Don
Gabor had asked Sigmund Spaeth's collaboration to set up the Remington
Music Plus!-Series. Existing recordings from the Remington catalog
were selected and Dr. Spaeth wrote the liner notes. He also read his
own commentaries and introductions which were recorded and put at
the end of each record side explaining the history and form of the
compositions. The cover states:
is a special recording in the series Music Plus, selected
by Sigmund Spaeth whose voice is heard in recorded comments
on each number. These comments appear on additional bands
towards the center on each side. For home use it is suggested
that the music always be played first, after which Dr. Spaeth's
remarks can peruse a second hearing and be reviewed from time
to time as desired. For schools, colleges, clubs and broadcasts
the introductory material should naturally preface the playing
of each selection, adding the printed backgrounds if needed.
In order to simplify such public performances, an accurate
timetable is appended, covering the Spaeth comments as well
as the music itself.
are twenty recordings in Volume I. Whether there was also a
Volume II is not sure.
1 (The labels bear the reference numbers MP-100-1 to MP-100-20):
Symphony No. 1 - MP-100-1 - H. Arthur Brown.
Beethoven: Symphony 6 - MP-100-2 - Kurt Wöss.
Dvorak: Symphony No. 5 (9) - MP-100-3 - George Singer, conductor.
Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream - MP-100-4 - H. Arthur
Tchaikovsky: Festival Overture + Nutcracker - MP-100-5 - Kurt
Johann Strauss: Overtures and Waltzes - MP-100-6 - conductor
Franck: Symphony in D - MP-100-7 - Hans Wolf conducting.
Haydn: Military + 88th Symphony - MP-100-8 - conductors Fritz
Weidlich and Paul Walter.
Wagner: Arias + Piano Sonata - MP-100-9 - Astrid Varnay and
pianist Felicitas Karrer.
Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol + Coq d'Or - MP-100-10
- with conductors Ernst Melich and George Singer.
Debussy: Prélude a l'apres midi d'un faune + Preludes - MP-100-11
- Jean Morel conducting; Edward Kilenyi, pianist.
Schubert: Moments Musicaux + Symphony 8 - MP-100-12 - Jörg
Demus piano; H. Arthur Brown. conductor.
Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik + Symphony No. 35 - MP-100-13
-Fritz Weidlich and Hans Wolf conducting.
Liszt: Hungarian Fantasia + Les Preludes - MP-100-14 - Edward
Kilenyi/Felix Prohaska and George Singer.
Chopin: Waltzes - MP-100-15 - Edward Kilenyi, piano.
Verdi: Rigoletto - MP-100-16 - Erasmo Ghiglia.
Schumann: Piano Concerto - MP-100-17 - Céliny Chailley-Richez
piano, Robert Heger conducting.
Handel: Messiah - MP-100-18 - Joseph Messner, conductor
Bach: Prelude No. 15 & 16 + Partita 6 - MP-100-19 - Jörg
Richard Strauss: Don Juan + Rosenkavalier Waltzes - MP-100-20
- H. Arthur Brown, conductor.
Magazine of September 18, 1954, announced that Remington had started
the distribution of the records in the Music Plus! series, although
some Nos. 1, 13, 16 and 18 were released in July 1953.
MP-100-17 from the MUSIC Plus!- series. Céliny Chailley-Richez,
pianist, performing Schumann's Concerto in A minor Op. 54 with
the Austrian Symphony Orchestra, Robert Heger, conductor (uninterrupted
performance), followed by recorded themes from the score with
comments spoken by Dr. Sigmund Spaeth. The liner notes explain
the recording and advertisements were published in Schwann Record
Catalog. Below the advertisement for the Series mentioning Beethoven's
is an advertisement announcing the Series in the Schwann catalog:
much of the same material was used for another series under the title
'Music Masters Appreciation Records'. An example is the recording
of the Remington recording of the Hungarian Fantasia with pianist
Edward Kilenyi and was conducted by Felix Prohaska, now coupled with
Les Preludes (also by Liszt) conducted by George Singer. This recording
with commentary by Sigmund Spaeth on MP-100-14, became Vol. 6 of Music
Masters. It was obviously easier to reissue the same material again
and again than procuring new performances recorded in a higher technical
Born in New York City in 1928, graduated
at the Phillips Academy (Andover) and received a BA in English at
Yale College. He followed private studies in music theory, counterpoint,
harmony and piano. In the summer of 1948, when he turned twenty, he
was a member of the composition class at Tanglewood in Lennox, Massachusetts,
with Darius Milhaud as teacher. Freeman is a composer of chamber music
and vocal chamber music. Known is his Suite for Wind Orchestra
which was recorded under the direction of Johannes Somary. His First
String Quartet as performed by the Koeckert Quartet, recorded
in Germany, was meant to be released on a MUSIRAMA disk but this never
happened as the contract with Bertelsmann had been canceled. Tom
Null discovered the recording when searching the archives with
Remington tapes and released the recording on Varèse-Sarabande
W. Freeman co-authored 'The Golden Horseshoe', and 'Toscanini', he
wrote 'Metropolitan Opera Stories of the Great Operas' (Vol. 1& 2)
and translated Guiseppe Tarozzi's 'Puccini'. He was a music critic
and a reviewer for Opera News and, from 1960 until 2000, served as
an Associate Editor of that magazine. In 1993 he was awarded the Belmont
Medal by the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
He was in his mid twenties when he wrote the liner notes for many
a Remington release.
W. Freeman wrote the liner notes for:
R-199-3 Grieg: Piano Concerto - Felicitas Karrer, pianist /
R-199-7 Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 - Austrian Symphony / Kurt
R-199-20 Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto - Michèle Auclair
/ Kurt Wöss.
R-199-96/3 A name of a cover artists or of a writer of a commentary
was sometimes (mostly unintentionally) omitted on a release. I suspect
that the liner notes for Mozart's Requiem conducted by Joseph Messner.
R-199-103 Verdi: Rigoletto Vocal Highlights - Ivan Petroff
with the Orchestra of the Maggio Musiale Fiorentino, the chorus of
Teatro Communale / Erasmo Ghiglia
R-199-104 Puccini: La Bohème Vocal Highlights.
R-199-105/2 Verdi: Requiem - Austrian Symphony / Gustav Koslik
(re-released around 1958 in a Masterseal cover as Remington R-199-238)
R-199-106 Dvorak: Slavonic Dances Op. 46 - Austrian Symphony
/ George Singer.
R-199-109 Etelka Freund plays music of Johannes Brahms: Sonata
in F minor Op. 5. and Intermezzi Op. 117 No. 2 and Op. 116 No
R-199-111/2 Rossini: Stabat Mater - Salzburg Mozarteum / Josef
R-199-143 Recital and Encores - Pierre Luboshutz and Genia
R-199-160 Saint-Saëns: Carnival of Animals, Tchaikovsky: Swan
Lake - RIAS Symphony / Jonel Perlea.
R-199-166 Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 and Todtentanz - Edward
Kilenyi, RIAS Symphony / Jonel Perlea.
R-199-170 Léhar: The Merry Widow, Strauss: One Night in Venice
- RIAS Symphony Orchestra / Gerhard Becker.
R-199-178/3 Verdi: Aida (the complete recording) - Teatro la
Fenice / Franco Capuana
R-199-192 Millöcker: The Beggar Student - RIAS Symphony Orchestra
/ Gerhard Becker.
Paris Album 12 Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsodies, Brahms Hungarian
Dances - RIAS Symphony / Karl Rucht.
Masterseal MSLP 5010 Mendelssohn: Midsummer Night's Dream,
Debussy: Afternoon of a faun
- Kurt Wöss, but these works are probably conducted by H. Arthur
Brown and Jean Morel respectively.
MSLP 5014 Dvorak: New World
Symphony - Austrian Symphony / George Singer. It is not clear if the
same liner notes had already been printed on the back of later editions
of R-199-4 (Dvorak's 5th Symphony (9th) with George Singer)
and replaced the notes written earlier by Herman Neuman.).
a writer on music and provided program notes for opera companies.
He also compiled catalogs like 'The American Record Index' and 'The
Catalogue of Opera on Records'.
wrote the liner notes for the Cosi fan tutte recording on R-199-117/3.
translated many libretti and also the libretto for 'Cosi fan tutte'
which was included in the box with the mention that it was a special
printing for Remington Records, Inc.
(Conductor, Director of Music of WNYG,
Municipal Broadcasting System of New York City) wrote the notes for
the early release of R-199-4 of Dvorak's 5th (9th) Symphony
with George Singer.
Irving Kolodin (January 21, 1908 -
April 29, 1988) was the prolific author who is known for 'The Opera
Omnibus', 'The New Guide to Recorded Music' (1950), 'The Guide to
Long Playing Records' and many other reference books on music and
records. He was a reviewer for Saturday Review. He is also known for
his writings for the RCA-label and in particular for the Rubinstein
Chopin-recordings. He had a rather clean and analytical style of judgement
and was never overly enthusiastic but always restrained in a somewhat
intellectual manner, to such an extent that several artists did not
like his reviews of their performances.
Kolodin was already a well known critic and musicologist when he was
asked to write for - at least three - Remington Musirama releases
with the technically and interpretively better recordings.
Kolodin's hand are the notes for Mascagni's 'Cavaleria Rusticana'
with Teresa Apolei, Pina Geri, Antonio Spruzzola Zola, Piero Campolonghi,
Letizia Del Col and the 'Teatro la Fenice' conducted by
on R-199-175/2. Kolodin wrote the notes for the release of
Prokofiev's 2nd Piano Concerto with
Jorge Bolet and Thor Johnson on
R-199-182 which was a première recording; apart from the 3rd
only the 1st and occasionally the 5th concertos were played. And from
his hand is the text on the inside of the box of the Turandot
recording with Gertrude Grob-Prandl, Antonio Sprùzzola-Zola,
Norman Scott, Renata Ferrari-Ongaro, Angelo Mercuriali, Mariano Caruso,
and Marcello Rossi, Franco Capuana conducting the 'Teatro la Fenice'
(Venice Opera Company) on the R-199-169/3.
Kolodin at the end of the nineteen forties.
(Photograph courtesy William
many a Remington cover a quote from an article by Irving Kolodin in
the Saturday Review is printed:
"Listen to the Remington-sponsored discs in a rapidly growing catalogue
selling at less than half of what is considered 'normal' LP rates.
Remington is worth every penny asked."
Biancolli is known for his
collaboration with Kirsten Flagstad which resulted in 'The Flagstad
Manuscript'. Other books of his hand are:
'The Mozart Handbook' (1975), 'Masters of the Orchestra from Bach
to Prokofiev' (1969) and 'The Analytical Concert Guide' (Doubleday).
He was also the co-author, with Robert Bagar, of 'The Concert Companion'.
He was a music critic for The New York World-Telegram and Sun. And
then he wrote liner notes for RCA releases.
Biancolli wrote the liner notes for these Remington editions:
R-199-124 Keyboard Masters of Old Vienna (Schubert, Mozart,
Lanner, Strauss) - Hilde Somer, pianist.
R-199-126 Kreisler Encores played by violinist Michèle Auclair
and pianist Otto Schulhof - coupled with Ballet Music by Delibes (excerpts
from Naila, Coppélia and Sylvia performed by the Austrian Symphony
Orchestra conducted by Max Schönherr.
R-199-129 Bizet L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1, Nicolai: Overture
to The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mendelssohn: Overture to Ruy Blas.
Borodin: Overture and Polovetsian Dances from Prince Igor, Mussorgsky:
A Night on Bald Mountain, Rimsky-Korsakoff: Capricio Espagnol - Austrian
Symphony / Gustav Koslik.
R-199-135 Mozart: Sonata in A Major, Haydn: Sonatas Nos. 1
and 7 - Leonid Hambro, piano.
The MUSIRAMA emblem is not printed on the cover but glued in the lower
right corner. This would suggest that this is not a real Musirama
recording. But the quality of the pressing is identical to the earlier
Musirama recording of Michèle Auclair (R-199-126) and the later
Musirama pressings. It is obvious that this disc was instigated by
Laszlo Halasz when he became Recording Director. Remington R-199-135
was released in the spring of 1953.
R-199-159 Debussy: La boite a joujoux (The Box of Toys) - RIAS
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jonel Perlea.
Tatnall Canby - musician
and musicologist, author of numerous articles for Harper's Bazar,
Saturdays Review and Audio Magazine, and he contributed also to other
record labels like Westminster and Nonesuch - wrote liner notes for:
R-199-79 featuring cellist Gaspar Cassado in Haydn's Concerto
No. 1, Op. 101 coupled with Mozart's Symphony No. 35, K 385, both
conducted by Hans Wolf.
R-199-84 Albert Spalding (Violinist) and Ernst von Dohnanyi
(Pianist) perform Johannes Brahms: Sonata No. 1 and Hungarian Dances
Nos. 8, 9 and 17.
Schumann: Symphony No. 2 - RIAS Orchestra / Otto Matzerath
R-199-203 Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini, Theme and Variations
- RIAS Symphony Orchestra / Anatole Fistoulari
R-199-209 Hindemith: Matthis der Mahler, Schumann: Manfred
Overture, Von Weber: Euryanthe Overture - Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra
/ Leopold Ludwig.
de Schauensee (Rome, December
5, 1899 - July 24, 1982 in Philadelphia, PA) was Music Editor of the
Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and wrote The Collector's Verdi and
Puccini. (1978). Despite the fact that opera was apparently his main
subject, he did write the program notes for:
R-199-138 Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 - Zoltan Fekete.
R-199-176 Berlioz: Symphony Fantastique - RIAS Symphony Orchestra
/ George Sebastian.
Sablosky, music critic of Chicago
Daily News is the author of 'American Music' and 'What They Heard:
Music in America, 1852-1881'. He wrote the notes for
Biro's recording of Contemporary Piano Composers (Bartok,
Kodaly, Kabalevsky) on R-199-133.
A quote from a review by Sablosky in the Chicago Daily News of Simon
Barere's Carnegie Hall recording of the Liszt Sonata (R-199-85) was
printed in the 1953 Remington Records Catalog: "... fantastic,
diabolical virtuosity seldom met and never before, to my knowledge,
captured thus on records."
Sheldon Soffer studied composition and later
took an interest in conducting and took up the post of assistant conductor
of the Provincetown Symphony Orchestra. From his experiences he had
the idea to represent musicians and artists and founded Sheldon Soffer
Management in 1965. He wrote the liner notes for R-199-174
with Wagnerian Favorites performed by the RIAS Symphony conducted
by Georges Sebastian, and the notes for Jorge Bolet's recording of
Chopin's Four Scherzi on R-199-161.
D. Bohm (Boehm)
Jerome Bohm wrote for the New York Herald Tribune.
R-199-165 Schumann: Carnaval, Chopin: Short Pieces - Edward
R-199-180 Schumann: Symphony No. 1 ("Spring") - Otto Matzerath
R-199-187 Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2 - Cincinnati Symphony
Orchestra / Thor Johnson.
R-199-197 Tchaikovsky: Concerto No. 1 - Conrad Hansen / Wolfgang
Sawallisch (On Masterseal MSLP a long paragraph of the original liner
notes was left out.).
R-199-201 Sibelius: 5th Symphony - RIAS Symphony Orchestra
/ Jussi Jalas
R-199-207 Enesco: Rumanian Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 2, Villa-Lobos:
Choros No. 6 - Georges Enesco and Heitor Villa-Lobos.
R-199-208 Delibes: Sylvia and Coppélia - Georges Sebastian.
Stanleigh (November 3, 1921- January
25th, 2003) started as a music critic and was a reviewer for a magazine
like Audio. He wrote a critical essay on Frank Zappa. In the 1960s
he worked for the American Standards Association. Famous is his parody
"Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis". He ultimately
moved on to work at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
(IEEE) before retiring in 1986. He passed away on January 25th 2003.
He wrote the liner notes for one of the Musirama recordings made with
the RIAS Symphony in Berlin:
R-199-164 Brahms: Concerto No. 2 - Edward Kilenyi / Jonel Perlea
Weinstock (1905-1971), author of
'Music as an Art' and of 'Tchaikovsky, Handel and Chopin: the Man
and His Music' wrote the notes for:
R-199-134 Flamenco - Carlos Montoya, guitar, and Lydia Ibarondo,
R-199-139 Songs of Spain - Lydia Ibarrondo and pianist Miguel
R-199-140 Baritone Mack Harrell: Recital and Encores, with
Brooks Smith at the piano.
R-199-171 Carlos Montoya - Spanish Gypsy Airs.
S. Harrison, critic
of the New York Herald Tribune, wrote noteworthy articles. From his
hand are Talk with Stravinsky: Composer Discusses His Music,
New York Herald Tribune, 21 December 1952; "Robert Craft and
His Unique Life", 20 December 1959; and many more. Quotes from
his articles can be found in many a biography of composers and musicians.
He contributed to the Book of the Month Club on The Messiah (Handel),
Salome and Elektra (Richard Strauss), and La voix humaine (Francis
S. Harrison wrote the notes for these Remington Records:
R-199-136 Scarlatti, Bach and Couperin by harpsichordist Sylvia
R-199-202 Couperin by Sylvia Marlowe, harpsichord.
Wagnerian Overtures - RIAS Symphony / Georges Sebastian.
R-199-183 Offenbach/Rosenthal: Offenbachiana - RIAS Symphony
Orchestra / Manuel Rosenthal.
R-199-188 Brant, Glanville-Hicks, Rudhyar - Jonel Perlea.
Light French Opera Overtures by Suppé, Auber, Adam and Maillart. RIAS
Symphony conducted by Gerhard Becker.
Darack, music critic of the Cincinnati
Enquirer, wrote the program notes for Dvorak's 4th (8th) Symphony
on R-199-168 - Thor Johnson.
Templeton wrote the notes for his
own recording of Improvisations on R-199-158. Note: There is
no author mentioned on the cover of his recording of Gershwin's Concerto
Spalding wrote the notes
for his own recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto with Wilhelm Loibner
(R-199-145), as is indicated on
VC 81059 which contains the re-release. This is not an invitation
to assume that Albert Spalding also wrote the liner notes for the
issue of his recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the same
conductor on R-199-144. These are probably written by any contributor
like John W. Freeman, Irving Kolodin, Sigmund Spaeth, or just one
of those other writers mentioned above. The recording of the Beethoven
Concerto was released after Albert Spalding had died.
(c) Rudolf A. Bruil - Page first published June, 2003