The Covers of Curt John Witt
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Curt John Witt cover for Kurt Baum Famous Arias Remington







Curt John Witt cover for Plymouth recording of Beethoven's 7th Symphony

When checking the covers of many Remington records, it seems that Curt John Witt is the artist whose work appears on most of the Remington covers.

In March 1952 Donald Gabor offcially announced that Curt John Witt was the new art director for Remington Records Inc. Witt surely worked together with Alex Steinweiss after Steinweiss had designed the new house style (corporate image) and the basic grid for the covers with a new logo with the letters REMINGTON in boxes placed on the label in a circle and in a vertical row at the left side of the cover.

Curt John Witt also delivered the artwork for many Plymouth and Merit releases while he was also doing covers for other record labels like Eli Oberstein's Allegro Royale and he worked for the label of Emory Cook's Binaural Records.

It is obvious that the cheaper Plymouth records were only rarely adorned with elaborate artwork. The covers were kept simple with just a few ornaments. There are many of those covers which state WITT.
An example of an early Remington cover by Curt John Witt is the edition of Beethoven's 6th, Pastoral Symphony - conducted by Kurt Wöss - with the old style reference number RLP-199-7 shown at the top left of this page. Also at left is the Plymouth-Merit release of Beethoven's 7th Symphony and at right the Plymouth release of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto played by pianist Felicitas Karrer.







Curt John Witt cover for Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 on Remington R-199-64liner notes for R-199-64

Like Alex Steinweiss, Curt John Witt had a characteristic handwriting as can be seen on many covers. Examples are the covers for Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 with conductor H. Arthur Brown, and Piano Concerto Op. 23 performed by pianist Hermann Schwertmann and conductor Alexander Paulmüller. Witt's handwriting / lettering is more solid and serious, has a remarkable regularity, unlike the light and playful Steinweiss scrawl.



It is safe to allege that the covers with this writing were styled by Curt John Witt in case his name is not mentioned. The Plymout/Carmen cover at left is definitely Witt's.
Also the style of the back of the Remington covers with the liner notes must have been Witt's lay out. It clearly shows his hand.

Curt Jophn Witt's style of writing

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Curt John Witt cover for Franck Symphony in D Remington
  At right an early pre-Steinweiss cover for Cesar Franck's Symphony in D conducted by Hans Wolf. It is not known who did this cover as there is no name printed on it.
Above the second cover which is by Curt John Witt with a variation on the church windows.
Violinists Helen Airoff and Walter Schneiderhan play Beethoven on R-199-95 - Cover by Curt John Witt
Curt John Witt cover for Remington disc with Dixtuor of Enesco and Cello Sonata of Kodaly
Bach Partita No. 6 performed by Jörg Demus - cover by Curt John Witt
When - in 1952 - Alex Steinweiss designed the new Remington logo and the lettering arranged in boxes topped with "A Don Gabor Production" and at the lower end the crown, Curt John Witt continued to work for the Remington label, in cooperation with Alex Steinweiss who sometimes would make suggestions. The division by a horizontal or vertical banner or band on certain covers may have been suggested by Steinweiss who himself often split the space in two fields when a record offered two different compositions or series. Alex Steinweiss certainly gave Witt and the other artists ample playground and the covers were gaining in quality. Also Curt John Witt, who was a master of simplicity, gradually developed a richer style as can be seen in the cover for Enesco's Dixtuor and Kodaly's Cello Sonata. The same goes for Beethoven's Violin Sonatas (with Helen Airoff and Walter Schneiderhan respectively) and Bach's Partita No. 6 by Jörg Demus (R-199-92).  
Witt's cover for La Traviata - Remington
Curt John Witt cover design for Remington Records Mozart Requiem
  The box with Mozart's Requiem (conducted by Joseph Messner) combines beige and purple. At times it is not easy to define a color because the printing process did not always have the exact match of colors. A standard scheme of colors like the Pantone Matching System had yet to be devised and be generally adopted. At left the cover for the early Traviata recording on R-199-77/3.
Curt John Witt cover for Sibelius 5th Symphony on Remington Musirama
Sibelius 5th Symphony with Jussi Jalas (R-199-201). In a different color setting the same pattern was used for a new cover of Simon Barere's Liszt Sonata which was not a Musirama recording.
The Origin of Fire and Pohjola's Daughter (Sibelius) was coupled with Glazounov's Violin Concerto (R-199-191) and received a somewhat more elaborate cover.
By then Witt signed his work with his name written as a signature. There are also covers which mention "Curt John Witt Design House". Slonevsky also had "Design House" added to his name. Maybe they were in the same company, or agency. It is not sure if Curt John Witt was the manager/owner of "Design House", or just one of the members.

Curt John Witt's signature
Curt John Witt design for Remington recording of Jorge Bolet playing Chopin 4 Scherzi
R-199-164 cover by Witt
Jorge Bolet's recording of the Four Scherzi (Chopin) was released on R-199-161 and signed by Design House Curt John Witt. It is a good rendition of the clean performances by Jorge Bolet of the Scherzi.
Kilenyi's performance of the Second Concerto of Brahms was on R-199-164.
Curt John Witt's cover for Gershwin's Concerto in F with pianist Alec Templeton illustrates the modernity of the work, the energy, and where it had its roots - R-199-184.
R-199-184 Gershwin Templeton Johnson - cover by Witt
Curt John Witt cover for Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto with Conrad Hansen on Remington
Conrad Hansen's Tchaikovsky Op. 23 with the RIAS Symphony - R-199-197.
Daring colors for the modern compositions by American Composers Leon Stein and Robert Ward, performed by the Cincinnati Symphony under Thor Johnson - R-199-185.
Contemporary American Composers - Johnson Cincinnati - Cover by Curt John Witt
The original cover for the Kilenyi Debussy Preludes recording - the artist is only indicated with the initials of the designer EDL, the year is 1951.</font>from
The second cover for the Kilenyi Debussy Preludes recording - now designed by Curt John Witt
Although the cover of R-199-50 with Edward Kilenyi's recording of the Preludes from Book 1 of Claude Debussy does not mention the name of the artist, it is undeniably Curt John Witt who delivered the art work. This cover replaced the early cover shown at far left which was done by an artist with initials EDL.
At the same time Curt John Witt made covers for Cook Laboratories records. At far left a 10 inch disc with works by Honegger, Ravel and Barber. Typically Witt is the cover for Cook 1062 with Stravinsky, Bach and Villa-Lobos performed by the new Orchestral Society of Boston, conducted by Willis Page.
Cook Binaural Brahms Symphony No. 1
  Design House Curt John Witt is printed on this cover for Cook / Sounds of Our Times long play 1060 binaural / duplex record of Brahms' Symphony No. 1 performed by the "new Orchestral Society of Boston" conducted by Willis Page.  

Curt John Witt cover for the Remington recording of music of Stravinsky and Prokofiev on R-199-212

Stravinsky's Suite from The Fire Bird and Prokofiev's Symphonie Classique conducted by Eugen Szenkar get rather tranquil tones instead of fiery red en yellow.
Cosi fan tutte cover by Curt John Witt
Alex Steinweiss made the cover of the complete Mozart opera Cosi fan tutte (far left). Of Curt John Witt's hand is the cover for the disc with highlights.- R-199-162.
Cover for the recording of music by Hindemith, Schumann, Weber, with the Hamburg Philharmonic under Leopold Ludwig Curt John Witt cover
  With the cover for Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, Schumann's Manfred Overture and Weber's Euryanthe Overture, Curt John Witt seems to have traveled a great distance, leaving the early covers far behind him - but the dots are still there.  

Bolero and Ma mère l'oye (Ravel) designed by Witt for Musical Masterpiece Society MMS 146

The cover for MMS-146 follows the lay out of the Enesco and Debussy Remington recordings. Walter Goehr conducts the Nethelands Philharmonic Orchestra in Bolero. The Orchestre Pasdeloup de Paris plays Ma mère l'oi with conductor Louis Martin.


A Masked Ball by Verdi performed by Paris Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Renè Leiobowitz in e cover by Curt John Witt on M116-OP34 of the Opera Society, a sub label of Musical Masterpiece Society.

René Leibowitz conducts the Paris Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra and singers Joachim Kerol, Jean Borthayre, Ethel Semser and others in Guiseppe Verdi's Un ballo in machera - A Masked Ball - on M116-OP34 of the Opera Society.

See also Concert Hall Society - Musical Masterpiece Society


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by Rudolf A. Bruil