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Donald H. Gabor (1912-1980)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doanld Gabor and his parents.

Donald Gabor and his parents around 1930.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Gabor in the navy

Don Gabor during World War Two and....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

....after the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Gabor and Valerie

Donald and his wife Valerie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earliest Remington Record Catalog with conductor Fritz Busch

The earliest Remington Records catalog when the company was still located at 263 West 54th St., the first address of the offices. On the cover a photograph of conductor Fritz Busch and his testimony:
I record for Remington Records because it offers me the possibility to reach the widest audiences on high fidelity quality recordings at prices everyone is able to pay...
Fritz Busch conductor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Curtiss as a college student.

George Curtiss around the time he studied at A.B. Davis College, Mount Vernon, NY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Gabor's Recruitement Data

The data of Donald H. Gabor's recruitment document.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Curtiss in front of the Standard Phono Company's office.

George Curtiss, Donald Gabor's cousin, photographed in 1942 when he was Assistant to Tetos Demetriades, Recording Manager of the Standard Phono Company (Corporation), 163 W. 23rd St. New York 11, N.Y. The Standard Phono Corporation's label was Standard and later also Colonial. The Standard Phono Corporation continued to exist in the LP era as this release of New and Old German Dances From Germany shows (Colonial Stereo ST-LP-796)..

Colonial was a label of the Standard Phono Corporation of Tetos Demitriades

George Curtiss joined Continental Records in 1945 after the war and continued working for Remington Records in the nineteen fifties and early sixties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An office on Fifth Avenue in the shadow of the Empire State Building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1952 Remington Record Catalog

The only quality record at a low price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remington Musirama Label

 

 

 

 

 

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Don Gabor at home in a reflective moment... contemplating a new project?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See: Copyright

 

 

 

 

Back to The Reming Site's Main Page.

 

A Don Gabor Production - Laurels ogo Over the years there has been considerable speculation about the man whose name figured on many a Remington cover, first in an oval emblem and later written in Alex Steinweiss's scrawl, in a simple but clever line: "A Don Gabor Production".

No other record label has been so personalized by its owner and creator as Remington Records by Donald H. Gabor. It gave every buyer the subliminal notion that each and every record bought had been personally handled and approved by producer Don Gabor himself, as if he guaranteed the authenticity of it: the record you have in your hand is special, it is not an imitation, it is original.

The idea of connecting the label directly to its producer could have been a gradual development over several years, or if it was the outcome of a brainstorm, it most likely originated in the creative mind of a marketing genius like Don Gabor as so many other ideas did: shaping a catalog, targeting different groups by creating specific series, by choosing typical label names and additional logos, advertising a return guarantee and much later a saving system with stamps as an incentive to buy more records.

Donald Gabor was born on November 20th, 1912 in Hungary. His mother was Freida Halmos (research suggests that she was related to the Halmos family which had emigrated to the USA in 1924 and had settled in Chicago). He spent his entire youth and his early adulthood in Hungary were he was raised by his mother's sister Regina and her husband Samuel Gabor, until 1938, the year in which he came to the US, just before full scale war broke out in Europe. He had studied at the Budapest Electrical Conservatory to become a radio and mechanical engineer. At age 26 he was one of those lucky few who succeeded in reaching the US to build a new existence. And that is what he did.

Continental 78 RPM Label Yankovic
Continental Label - Record Made in Holland
Frank Yankovic was one of the most popular Continental artists.
The yellow label is of the Dutch release of the Ensemble "Accordeana". The record is Made in Holland. The label states: Manufactured under license from Continental records Inc. New York NY. USA
Continental Gypsy Vagabond Songs
Echoes of Budapest

It is documented that "beginning in 1938 as a shipping clerk for RCA-Victor at $12 a week, he was head of Victor's foreign records department within two years, producing song discs in 14 languages."

He may have founded Continental Records when he was still employed at RCA's, or just may have made a few recordings then and there. The earliest recordings he made (together with conductor Laszlo Halasz) in 1941-1942 were of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók in the home of Bartók in New York, the maestro playing his own compositions at the piano. These recordings were originally released on Gabor's own Continental label, on 78 RPM, the format of the day. Gabor and his company is already listed in Billboard's Music Year Book of 1943. It is not sure if Donald received a loan from his former RCA boss and head of the Greek Music Division, Tetos Demetriades to set up his business. (Demetriades made himself independent and produced records with ethnic music.)

The Bartók recordings were later transferred to LP: Continental CLP-101 and were listed in Schwann Long Playing Record Guide of September 1950. By the end of 1952 they were reissued on Remington R-199-94 and later incorporated in the extensive Hungaroton LP edition "Bartok at the Piano".

Other Continental 78 RPM discs of various musicians who had migrated to the US followed. They played classical music, popular music, and there was jazz of the young artists who would play the clubs of New York.

Having been raised and educated in Hungary, Gabor dwelled in two worlds and understood only too well the feelings of the immigrant who, while appreciating the modern lifestyle and the possibilities America offered, still remembered the homeland. Alongside goulash and fruit brandy, there certainly remained a taste for records with folk music played by immigrant musicians. And not only for Hungarians as Gabor ensured himself of a high turnover by issuing recordings aimed at Poles, Slovenians, and Czechs as well, released on the Continental, Czardas and White Eagle 78 RPM labels, and later on LP and 45 Extended Play. In some cases he even bought masters from artists and other labels, including the copyright (as in the case of Frank Yankovic, the Polka King).

That was how he started and that is how he collected the necessary capital for expanding his business in the second half of the nineteen forties. And he most certainly did encounter people who wanted to invest in his fast growing record company. Donald was doing well. In 1948 he had access to the pressing plant in Webster, Massachusetts and in that same year he installed machines for pressing records on the plastic compound he devised. In that same year he invested in a pressing plant in Canada.

Donald's mother Freida and her husband could have come to America with Donald in 1938, but they were reluctant to leave Europe, because they were receiving a large pension, they loved their country and they thought that in time life would improve. So they stayed. After World War II broke out the fascist Arrow Cross movement had free play and Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya's government deteriorated the political-humanitarian situation in Hungary more and more, notwithstanding the fact that Horthy tried to save the political situation, but was arrested by the Gestapo, he later testified in Nuremberg.

It was several years after the war that Donald met someone who had been with his mother and father. He told Donald, that when the Germans had invaded Hungary in 1944, and the so called Death Marches were organized, Donald's parents were forced to leave Budapest and literally walk into Germany. They were in one of those prisoner groups that were being marched from one concentration camp to another and they died.

The development by Columbia of the 33 RPM Long Playing record (in the fall of 1947 a 17 minute per side LP was ready), and the official launch in 1948, promised new possibilities, not only for the big record companies, but for newcomers too, and of course for eager entrepreneurs like Donald Gabor.
By 1950 the LP was quickly becoming the accepted medium and as the proliferation of the appropriate playback equipment was increasing, it was time to enter the LP record business on a large scale and as early as possible.

In 1950 Remington Records Inc., was founded, producing both 78 RPM and 33 RPM records. Many Continental recordings were transferred to LP and later re-released on the Remington label. New recordings were made in the USA, but most originated in Vienna, the musical capital of Europe with its abundance of singers, instrumentalists, orchestras and ensembles.

When the 45 RPM format was introduced in 1949 by RCA, recordings on the the new 7 inch discs were issued, as it was announced in Billboard Magazine of July 2, 1949. At the same time in his capacity of engineer Gabor advised other companies on setting up pressing plants. For example in Canada (Empire Records), Sweden (Novotone) and Austria (G.A. Krammer).

Plymouth First Label

Although the black/silver label (which is the third label) mentioned "A Don Gabor Production", the rights of most of the performances recorded in Vienna were the propriety of lawyer/impresario/dramaturg Marcel Prawy. Gabor paid for the rights to issue the performances on Remington, but he also released the material (while often omitting the names of the soloists and of the conductors) on the other labels he created - labels with such remarkable names as Masterseal, Plymouth, Masque, Merit, and Etude, later adding more labels to the list: Palace, Pontiac, Paris, Webster, and Buckingham. Each and every name bore a hidden persuasion to which a specific buyer could connect.

To give his product mass appeal, Gabor priced his Remington records at about one third of the prices asked by the big labels. Under the heading "Low Note", Time (New York) reported on Monday, May 29, 1950 that Remington Records, Inc. announced the production of popular records for 99 ¢, and classical records for $1.49 and $1.99, respectively for 10 and 12" records. Remington President Donald Gabor further announced that R. H. Macy & Co., W. T. Grant Co. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. have already ordered $75,000 worth of the new records.

The low prices were maintained for a very short time only. Already 6 months later prices had gone up to $1.69 and $2.19 respectively, but were still about two fifth of RCA's high priced 10 inch and 12 inch records which sold at $4.67 and $5.72 respectively. And even if in 1954 the prices of Remington discs were raised to $ 1.99 and $ 2.99, prices were significantly lower compared to those of the other labels. Then, all of a sudden, in the course of 1955, prices of Remington records were lowered to $ 1.45 and $ 1.95. But by 1955 the quality of records had improved significantly and the reason was that Remington had to keep up with the competition in order to continue to attract buyers.

Advertisement in Billboard Magazine of 1952 - introduction of Bluebird label by RCA The other manufacturers were well aware of the competition and were forced to add a series of cheap records to their catalogs. But that did not shake the foundation under his enterprise. He made use of any event. Also when RCA introduced their cheaper Bluebird Label. Gabor congratulated RCA and used the introduction to point once again at the pioneer role of Remington Records in an advertisement in Billboaed Magazine.

To guarantee low prices, Donald Gabor does not sign up top-price artists, he uses a cheap substitute for pure vinyl, and he employs no network of salesmen and district managers to distribute his records. While the cheap Websterlite - a cheap mix as substitute for vinylite - kept the cost of production low, it also resulted in poorer sound quality. This fact should have deterred many consumers from buying a Remington record or a release on other labels of Gabor's. At the same time one should not forget that most record buyers were playing their records on portable gramophones or simple turntables, all equipped with crystal or ceramic pick ups, connected to a small amplifier or radio which had of course variable tone controls, so bass could be enhanced and treble could be adjusted to minimize hiss. Only much later the criterion of quality was gaining in significance. But serious music lovers and audiophiles would pay more attention to the quality of the performance and the technical quality of the discs as was clear from many reviews in High Fidelity magazine of those days.
Early Masterseal Label

It was Gabor's policy to make all genres of music affordable. And he surely must have turned many people into record collectors, irrespective of the label's name, as Gabor entered the game at the right time and with mainstream repertoire.

In the Schwann catalog of December 1950 there were only three recordings listed of Dvorak's New World Symphony: Eugene Ormandy on Columbia, Leopold Stokowski on Victor and there was the Remington disc with George Singer, a recording made in the beginning of that year and issued on R-199-4.
The same goes for Brahms's First Symphony. There were three recordings listed in the June 1951 Schwann catalog. One of Arthur Rodzinski on Columbia and another again by Leopold Stokowsky on Victor. Number three was the Remington recording of H. Arthur Brown ( R-199-5) conducting the Austrian Symphony Orchestra - also called Niederösterreichisches Sinfonie-Orchester (Symphony Orchestra of Lower Austria), Viennese Symphonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Viennese Symphonic Society, Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstler Orchestra, Linz Symphony Orchestra, and Austrian State Symphony Orchestra, and who knows what more.
That same June 1951 Schwann edition mentions that of Beethoven's Sonata Pathétique there were just three recordings: Arthur Rubinstein (Victor), Rudolf Serkin (Columbia) and Alfred Kitchin (Remington), and Beethoven's Moonlight was available by Horowitz, Serkin and on Remington R-199-10 by Alexander Jenner.
Paganini's Violin Concerto in D had three recordings listed: Zino Francescatti on Columbia, Rugiero Ricci on Vox and Ivry Gitlis on Remington R-199-20 (though it was the one movement as orchestrated by Fritz Kreisler).
Since its release, Edward Kilenyi's recording of Debussy's Preludes Book 1 on R-199-50, was the only LP available for quite some time. Only in July 1952 one of Walter Gieseking's reference recordings was listed.
When in the course of 1951 Alexander Jenner's Etudes Op. 25 (R-199-28) and in the fall of 1951 Edward Kilenyi's recording of Op. 10 (R-199-57)came out, the only alternative on LP was the set of Alexander Brailowsky on Victor LM-6000.

And there were of course the recordings of Michèle Auclair playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (R-199-20), the recording of Rimsky- Korsakov's Scheherazade conducted by H. Arthur Brown (R-199-11).
Beethoven's Fifth Concerto (Emperor) with pianist Felicitas Karrer on RLP-199-1 was the first Remington release, listed in December 1950. There were only three competitors: Cassadesus (Columbia), Curzon (London), Schioler (mercury) and Serkin (Columbia). Grieg's Piano Concerto (R-199-3) was a December 1950 listing. Karrer's Rachmaninoff Second (R-199-32) was released in the fall of 1951.
Remington First Label
The earliest Remington LP label was a variation on the Continental label, in the common style more or less resembling the labels of Columbia, Westminster, etc.
Remington Second Label

When in the summer of 1951 Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony with Kurt Wöss on R-199-7 was released, the only competition was from Columbia with the Bruno Walter recording (ML 4010).
In the years 1950-1952 the catalog only contained those recordings which Gabor obtained through Marcel Prawy. Prawy never proposed a Beethoven Ninth, orchestral music of Richard Strauss, or a Gustav Mahler Symphony. Strangely enough these gaps in the catalog were not filled in when Laszlo Halasz had become Recording Director and Berlin had become the main recording venue.

However, there apparently was a recording made for Remington of a performance of Mahler's Fourth Symphony with Bruno Walter conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and soprano Irmgard Seefried at the 1950 Salzburg Festival as Robert McColley reported. (There were of course recordings made in Salzburg with Joseph Messner conducting works by Mozart, Handel, Haydn and Rossini.) Although the orchestra did permit to record the work, it was not released by Don Gabor. The most likely reason would be that Bruno Walter was under contract with Columbia Records and the release was not permitted. As the taped performance was among the tapes Don Gabor gave to producer Tom Null, it is said that this recording had been issued in the Remington Series on the Varèse Sarabande label around 1980, although a listing could not be traced by me.

Gabor's records were priceless alternatives. Remington LP's were the cheapest in the catalog, even cheaper than Eli Oberstein's Allegro/Royale records with bootlegged material released under fake names for instrumentalists, conductors and orchestras, and sometimes omitting a movement of a symphony or a number of bars.

A few suspicious collectors may have assumed that the names of the artists on Remington records were often also pseudonyms. They were definitely not! Felicitas Karrer, Kurt Wöss, H. Arthur Brown, George Singer, Walter Schneiderhan and Ivry Gitlis - and the names of numerous other artists printed on the covers and listed in the Schwann were all genuine names of musicians who had studied with important teachers and professors, privately or at the famous conservatories of Paris and Vienna.

Low prices meant a big turnover. No wonder that the big companies tried to boycott Remington right from those early days (when it still had a red label and the records were already sold by the thousand), and even more so when Remington was achieving a higher cosmetic profile through distinguished art work and outstanding design by Alex Steinweiss and the artists he recruited.
The sale of each Remington disc meant less income for the giants who were used to dividing the bulk of the market between them.
There were a few recordings from Vienna which were issued on the more expensive, early Masterseal label, like Fritz Busch's Memorial Album and the recording of Volkmar Andreae conducting Bruckner's Symphony No. 1. These were presented specifically as "A Marcel Prawy Production", obviously to please Prawy.


There were many names who held particular positions in Donald Gabor's emporium: Emery Rose, W.A. Timm, J.E. Collins, Ted Stock, Thomas Brusk, Edward Smith, Ms. Tawny Nielson, Edward Stein, Bennett H. Korn, Hugh Dallas, Ms. Ida Levine, Theodor Halmos, to mention a few. The significance of their positions and of their continuations may have varied.

But another man who is never mentioned in press releases or on the list of personnel was instrumental in turning Remington Records into a success. His name was George Curtiss.
George Curtiss was a little younger than Donald Gabor. George was actually from the Kertesz family, but the name was Americanized and changed into Curtiss. George's father, Gyula Kertész (1888-1982), played soccer for the MTK Budapest (from 1906 till 1914) and later Kertesz was a well-known coach / team manager with three different clubs in Hamburg (Germany) in the 1920s, one of them HSV, Hamburger Sport Verein.

Jimmy Hogan, the English soccer coach taught Gyula Kertész and his brothers while Hogan was a prisoner of war (POW) during World War One. It was also Jimmy Hogan who taught Gyula Kertész about daily exercise, diet and healthy living and this served to help him to live well into his 90's. Werner Skrentny and Jens R. Prüß prepared a book on the Hamburg soccer clubs and the Hungarian influence: Mit der Raute im Herzen (With the Diamond in the Heart), published by Die Werkstatt, Göttingen, Germany. See also HSV 1887 (in German).

Gyula Kertesz was Don Gabor's uncle. He supervised the Continental enterprise during the war, when his son George had enlisted in the US Army and Donald had joined the US Navy. Donald enlisted on June 8th, 1943; the document states that his civil occupation is a motion picture sound editor and sound recorder. (Note: On Donald H. Gabor's recruitment document, the name was probably written in under cast and later typed. That could be the reason why the official document says: Donald B. Gabor - the 'h' could have been mistaken for a 'b'.)

George Curtiss, son of Gyula Kertesz, was born as George Kertesz on April 19, 1921, in Metz, France. He lived his first 12 years mainly in Germany and later in various European countries (Sweden, Norway, England). He was an only child and like Donald Gabor came to America in 1938. He graduated from A.B. Davis High School, Mount Vernon, NY, and started as 'Assistant to Recording Manager' for the Standard Phono Corporation at 163 W. 23rd St. in NYC, and was employed from September 1938 to December 1942. He also attended City College of New York until he was drafted in 1941.

In 1943, at twenty-two, George Curtiss became a US citizen while he was stationed in Spartensberg, South Carolina. Shortly afterwards he was shipped overseas. He was one of the soldiers of the 102nd Infantry Division of the US Ninth Army who reached the town of Gardelegen on April 15, 1945. The troops were horrified when they discovered the atrocities of the massacring of concentration camp prisoners which had taken place only two days earlier.

George spoke French, German, Hungarian, English and Spanish, all fluently, and - as is reported - without an accent. He also mastered reading and writing these languages. He later learned some Russian and Albanian as well and could converse in Italian. Remarkable, and at the same time unusual, is that he also had a brilliant mathematical mind. He was able to multiply five numbers by five numbers faster than could be calculated when using an electrical calculator. He was a gifted, handsome man, was artistic and had a sarcastic sense of humor. But mostly he was a man of great character, honest and forthright in business.
His passive and active knowledge of so many languages made him a perfect broadcaster (as a side job) for the Voice of America in the nineteen fifties, the early, turbulent years of the cold war.

The Tikva Stereo Label LogoRelations and family ties are always important in business, especially in small emigrant groups. Gabor asked his cousin George to join Continental Records in 1945. George first became Manager of the Foreign Production Department of Continental Records from 1945 on and than switched to Remington Records, when the classsical catalog was started in 1950, working closely with Don Gabor. The cooperation lasted until 1962. In that year George Curtiss started his own Labels maintained by George Curtissbusiness, dealing with ethnic labels named Eurotone (featuring international recordings from Europe), Tikva (with the largest catalog of Jewish and Israeli recordings) and Anthology (which was his favorite presenting Oriental and African music with notes and photographs). And he was the importer in the USA of the Unesco sound recordings.

Gabor spoke American English and of course Hungarian, but for international contacts he needed a man who was fluent in many languages and also had the necessary social skills to successfully engage in business negotiations and conferences. George Curtiss perfectly complemented Gabor's ideas. Through good management he helped turn many a project into a commercial success. He was head of the Webster pressing plant (Webster Record Corporation, or the Record Corporation of New England as it was called) where the Remington, Masterseal and various other labels, were pressed.

George Curtiss was responsible for the manufacturing of the vinyl, for the production of matrixes and plates, and for the pressings. He constantly tried to improve the quality of the final product, difficult as it was, given the limited budgets and the fact that a special mix of vinyl had to be used. On many an occasion heated discussions took place between Don A drawing of the Webster Record Pressing PlantGabor, George Curtiss and Gabor's cousin Steve, about the recordings, the quality of the vinyl, and what could be done to make improvements. And George definitely had different views. As he considered that the quality of the final product that left the plant was also his responsibility, he often picked out several pressings and took these home to check the quality. While using a red "china marker" (wax grease pencil) he would pick out imperfections in the pressings and indicated that improvements or corrections should be made.
George Curtiss was also the man who wrote the liner notes for a number of early recordings before a host of
professional writers, critics and musicologists was hired to fill the backsides of the covers with notes and biographical details, if available.

Eurotone Record LogoGeorge set up a record pressing plant in Puerto Rico for Don Gabor. After the sale of the Webster factory and the pressing plants in Canada and Puerto Rico in 1959 to Thompson Record Corporation, a financial syndicate, Don Gabor reorganized his business and now operated out of resident offices in the Bronx. George Curtiss left the Remington Record Company in 1963, as views on how to continue in the new era of the stereo record were diverging. To make things easy in the beginning, Sam Goody offered George a work space to set up his Eurotone Record Company.
The photograph of George Curtiss conferring was taken around 1960 during a recording session. George Curtiss died in May 2003.

Don Gabor was a hard working man and a demanding entrepreneur. Total personal commitment is the trademark of many men who have a vision and start a business of their own. Gabor's vision was of building a record emporium, producing 'music for millions' and challenging the big companies. Gabor not only gave all his time and energy himself, he also expected total commitment from his workers in the office as well as in the factory.

Music Appreciation Library Vol. 1 ROCK and ROLL
Kiddy Records - Better Parents Choose Better Records - Remington Junior
Remington Junior disks were much appreciated. Below the cover of the Junior disk by Scotty MacGregor and The Plymouth Players
Davy Crocket for kids

When he had a new idea he immediately would call a producer, even in the middle of the night or in the early hours of the morning, and 'ask' him to come over and talk about what needed to be done to realize the idea or to implement a new strategy. In this way many series may have been originated, the series of the Young Violinists, the series of recordings done with the American Composers Association, the Music Plus Series, the Junior kiddie disks, and the Music Appreciation Library ("inspired" by Music-Appreciation Records of the Book of the Month Club) produced for Remington and the Paris label by Dr. Sigmund Spaeth.
It was inevitable that valuable managers, assistants, producers and even workers would quit sooner or later, as often enough an individual's ideas about how to get the job properly done, had to be put aside. And also in many cases payment was not always on time. This suggests that capital was not always sufficiently available. Reaching a goal was often more important than the remuneration. The means justified the ends.

This flaw did not prevent Gabor acquiring the collaboration of famous musicians, pedagogues, writers and graphic artists. On the contrary. Many well known figures did cooperate. Violinists Georges Enesco and Albert Spalding, pianists Edward Kilenyi and Ernst von Dohnanyi, and conductor Thor Johnson, they all performed in front of the Remington microphones. Yehudi Menuhin and Jacques Thibaud endorsed the series created by violin pedagogues Theodore and Alice Pashkus. Musicologists Dr. Sigmund Spaeth, John W. Freeman and Irving Kolodin (to name just three) wrote liner notes.

Alexander Steinweiss designed a house style for the Remington company, a new cover and label, and Curt John Witt, Otto Rado, Slonevski and H. Kaebitz, and many other artists (and often Alex Steinweiss himself) delivered the art work to fill in the basic grid.

Remington House Style
'A Don Gabor Production', the crown, the vertical row of boxes which spelled REMINGTON, the Musirama label, 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 the elements defining the corporate image of Remington Records Inc.

It made Don Gabor an important figure in the record 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. In the early nineteen fifties the office's address was a Suite on Fifth Avenue (first at No. 500 and later at No. 551). He had become a well-to-do business man and a force in the industry to be reckoned with. Gabor led a rich social life, together with his wife Valery, known to everyone as Wally (and she was not a singer as many opera buffs want us to believe), and with his daughters Edna and Geraldine, living in a luxurious 20-room mansion on Delafield Avenue in the Riverdale area (Bronx), and spending holidays in their Cape Cod summer residence.

Record pressing at the Webster plant, Massachusetts.Gabor had wit. When news from the hospital said that George's wife had given birth to a little baby-girl, Donald wrote a letter on the Remington stationary, to be delivered to George Curtiss at the Webster pressing plant announcing the birth. Gabor wrote: "Dear Mr. Curtiss, This is to inform you that today I have shipped to your hospital one baby girl. For further details, please call the hospital. Very truly yours, THE STORK."

Gabor was a serious and social man too, but only then when he chose to be, as is so often the case with rulers of a big enterprise. He supported Béla Bartók by paying him a generous allowance, far more than the actual profit of the sales of the master's Continental records.
When in 1956, Hungary fought against their government and against the rule imposed by the Soviet Union, and on November 10th the revolution finally failed, Gabor supported his relatives. Donald's cousin Steve fled Hungary with his 8 month pregnant wife and his son Peter and daughter Kathleen. Steve was offered a job as a manager of the Webster plant, the factory which was supervised by George Curtiss. Sometime later Gabor released another disc with Hungarian Gypsy Music now played by the Imre Magyari Orchestra, on Masterseal M-667. The liner notes reminded many Americans, and not only those of Hungarian descend, of the Hungarian Revolution (uprising) in 1956.

There must have been numerous other occasions when Gabor helped out, for example by arranging a loan for buying a house, or by giving sound advice as Laszlo Halasz's son Richard recalls:


"Don Gabor was one of the nicest colleagues my father had introduced me to. I recall his home filled with antiques and in particular a suit of armor. He had given me a great deal of business advice growing up, as well as instrumental advice concerning my business when I became successful." - Richard Halasz

Gabor's taste for antiques was not only evident in his home as Richard Halasz tells, but extended itself in the creation of several beautiful editions. The releases of the early Masterseal records which were produced by Marcel Prawy had luxurious, heavy gatefold sleeves, each covered on the outside with a different snake skin pattern with gold lettering.

Special limited edition wooden box with Georges Enesco's Romanian Rhapsodies performed by the composer

After George Enesco's death in 1955, Gabor had a beautiful wooden box handcrafted with in it a one sided shiny, silvery 12" matrix with Enescu's two Rumanian Rhapsodies engraved and adorned with the Continental label. This box was issued in a limited edition of 100 copies and in honour of the French-Rumanian violinist Georges Enesco whom Gabor admired very much. Georges Enesco had recorded the Six Sonatas and Partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach for the Continental label and had conducted his Rumanian Rhapsodies with l'Orchestre des Concerts Colonne de Paris, released on the Remington label. The Sonatas and Partitas were issued in 1950. The Rumanian Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 2 in 1951 and 1952 respectively on 10 inch LP's.

This limited edition of the Rhapsodies was offered to a select group of people to commemorate the cooperation and the importance of the great Rumanian artist, and not only for Gabor. The label reads: "LIMITED EDITION" and "Hand Processed from Original Masters Limited to 100 Copies only". At the same times - in 1956 that was - Remington R-199-207 was released, containing the two Rhapsodies, also on one side of a 12 inch disc. (They were coupled with Heitor-Villa Lobos conducting the RIAS Symphony Orchestra in a recording of his Choros No. 6.) When opening the page about Georges Enesco, you hear the beginning of Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, conducted by the composer, taken from R-199-207.

Remington 1953 Record Catalog
On the last page of this catalog from 1953 the MUSIRAMA productions are being announced.

Issuing many labels with much of the same material, which was of course clever marketing, is being seen by many as Gabor's main trait. That can be true. But his geniality was in creating the Remington label, right from the start, and especially when it evolved into a better quality label with the introduction of the MUSIRAMA '3 Dimensional Sound' recordings with the multiple microphone placement. That was when Robert Blake was the recording technician, and conductor Laszlo Halasz had teamed up with Don Gabor and George Curtiss and became Remington's recording director, replacing Edward Kilenyi who had become music teacher at the Florida School of Music. The Musirama recordings were mainly made in Germany (with the RIAS Symphony) and in Italy (with the Orchestra of the Teatro la Fenice) and a few at home (with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra). See also Gabor in Berlin.

In 1952 the Cinerama movie format was officially introduced to the public. Cinerama is a combination of the words cinema and panorama. That inspired Donald H. Gabor to use the word MUSIRAMA, a combination of music and panorama. See It's Trinaural.

RCA's advertisement for the raised rims at the periphery of the discs: Gruve GuardFor recordings of individual artists playing recitals, the Mastertone Recording Studios Inc. in New York City, NY 10036, were hired. It is probable that the recording of Sari Biro playing Bartok, Kabalevsky and Kodaly (released in December 1953), as well as the recitals of Jorge Bolet, of Ossy Renardy with Eugene List, of duo pianists Pierre Luboshutz and Genia Nemenoff, were recorded there for the Musirama Series, which meant a vast improvement over the early Remington sound recordings. One could say that in the mid fifties Gabor was at the pinnacle of his achievements. He was a conceptual thinker and even wanted to make a small Remington gramophone record player available to give optimum results when playing the disks. As one of the first companies he introduced the plastic inner sleeve (bag) to protect the records, and right after RCA had announced the Gruve Gard (Groove Guard) in the fall of 1954, Gabor soon gave new pressings the higher rim and elevated label.

The Remington label was discontinued fully a year or so after the stereo record had been introduced (September, 1958). Then Gabor (re-) issued cheap, low quality recordings, which were only available at gas stations and in super markets and were no longer listed in the official record catalogs, Schwann and The Longplayer.
The fact that Gabor did not follow the road for further improvement but overlooked the importance of sound quality, was an omission that kept him, regrettably, from establishing a quality label that withstood the passage of time. If he had done otherwise and had continued the cooperation with the Bertelsmann label, had contracted the Cincinnati Symphony which could have been the label's main orchestra, if he had expanded his international contacts and had released quality recordings in the stereo era, his top label ultimately could have evolved into the class of Vox, Turnabout, Dover, Kapp, Vanguard and Westminster.

In the beginning of the nineteen sixties Gabor revived Continental Record Co. Inc. for a short time. The office was located at 630, 9th Avenue. The company then also produced 8-track cartridges labeled 'Radiant' but without much success. He relocated the office once again, but now to his home in the Bronx. Several covers mention "Paris Sound Laboratories - 4645 Delafield Ave, Riverdale, New York".

In the nineteen seventies there was no specific activity of 'A Don Gabor production', in any case not advertised as such. Those were the years when several recordings were licensed to other labels. The most famous are the three records with violinist Georges Enesco performing Bach's Sonatas and Partitas, issued by Bert Whyte's Everest Records. Other taped recordings were reissued on Vox. Gabor's company is then named 'American Tape Corporation'.

Tom Null reissued several taped performances, of which the tapes were given to him by Donald Gabor himself. Null's label was Varèse-Sarabande. Issued were the 'Remington Series' with specific recordings like those of Albert Spalding playing Dohnanyi's Violin Sonata with Ernst von Dohnanyi at the piano, and Georges Enesco playing his Sonata No. 2 with Céliny Chailley-Richez. There is Simon Barere playing Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and formerly unissued Scriabin Etudes. On Varèse-Sarabande Gabor's first commercial stereo recordings, made in 1953, were issued, with the Cincinnati Symphony and the Helsinki University Chorus performing Sibelius (Origin of Fire, Pohjolah's Daughter, and Songs by Sibelius a/o.). Possibly Emory Cook made his binaural recordings in Boston around the same time for release on the Cook Binaural Records Label. In February 1954 RCA made their first commercial stereophonic recordings, and Mercury by 1955.
Dvorak's 4th (8th) Symphony conducted by Thor Johnson, as well as some of the recordings made with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra - like Jussi Jalas conducting the 1st Symphony of Jean Sibelius and Anja Ignatius playing five of the Six Humoresques for violin and orchestra - were done in stereo and issued in stereo by Tom Null.

Don Gabor died on his 68th birthday of a heart attack. An obituary was published in The New York Times. Gabor was called a colorful entrepreneur, a leader in making classical music available to many people by charging low prices, 99 CT. per record when he started to release the Remingtons. That is correct.
His undeniable importance lays, from the very beginning of his enterprises, in his decision to make the Long Playing record a medium for the masses and applying unusual means to achieve that goal. In doing so he showed many a record company the way to create new strategies in marketing.
On November 23rd an 'afternoon worship' was held in the Riverdale Presbyterian Church. The words of French nobleman Stephen Grellet (the lines slightly altered, maybe written down from memory) were typed on the order of service:

I shall pass through this world but once.
Any good that I can do, or any
kindness that I can show to any human being,
let me do it now. Let me not defer or ne-
glect it. For I shall not pass this way again.

Rudolf A. Bruil, June 30th 2005.

>GO TO THE REMINGTON SITE WITH LINKS TO ARTISTS or
>>READ A PERSONAL INTRODUCTION or
>>>CONTINUE READING THE STORY 

I expect to pass through this world but once.
Any good things, therefore, that I can do,
any kindness that I can show a fellow being,
let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.
- Stephen Grellet


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