Gabor and his parents around 1930.
Gabor during World War Two and....
and his wife Valerie.
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:
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.
Curtiss around the time he studied at A.B. Davis College, Mount Vernon,
Curtiss, Donald Gabor's cousin, photographed in 1942 when he was Assistant
to Tetos Demetriades, Recording Manager of the Standard Phono Company.
George Curtiss joined Continental Records in 1945 after the war and
continued working for Remington Records in the nineteen fifties.
office on Fifth Avenue in the shadow of the Empire State Building.
only quality record at a low price.
Gabor at home in a reflective moment... contemplating a new project?
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.
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 a saving system with stamps as an incentive
to buy more records.
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.
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.)
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
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
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.
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
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
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).
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
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
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
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
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.
It was Gabor's policy was to make all sorts 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
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
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
playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (R-199-20), the recording
of Rimsky- Korsakov's Scheherazade conducted by H. Arthur Brown
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
played soccer for the MTK Budapest 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
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,
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:
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'.)
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, and in 1943, at twenty-two, he 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.
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
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
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 business,
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.
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,
Corporation of New England
as it was called) where the Remington, Masterseal and various
other labels, were pressed. He was responsible for the manufacturing
of the vinyl, for the production of matrixes and plates, and
the pressings. He constantly tried to improve the quality
of the final product, difficult as it was, given the limited
budgets. On many an occasion heated discussions took place
between Don Gabor,
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 the final product
that left the plant was his responsibility, he often picked
out several pressings to listen to and to check the quality.
While using a red "china marker" he would pick out
imperfections in the pressings and improvements or corrections
could be made.
George Curtiss was also the man who wrote the liner notes
for a number of early recordings before a host of
writers, critics and musicologists was hired to fill
the backsides of the covers with notes and biographical details,
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
The photograph of George Curtiss conferring was taken around
1960 during a recording session. George Curtiss died in May
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.
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
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
Dr. Sigmund Spaeth, John W. Freeman and
Irving Kolodin (to name just three) wrote liner notes.
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.
Don Gabor Production', the crown, the vertical row of boxes
which spelled REMINGTON, the Musirama label, plus the heading
on the stationary (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.
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,
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 an emporium. He
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 the and the revolution finally
failed on November 10th, 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
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 George 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
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.
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
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.
The 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
the last page of this catalog from 1953 the MUSIRAMA productions
are being announced.
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).
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
TO THE REMINGTON SITE WITH LINKS TO ARTISTS or
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