Issued – November 1999

We are pleased to announce the twenty second issue of Historic Masters. The complete catalogue of the series now comprises 143 discs – 285 sides of which around 77 have never previously been available in original 78 rpm format. Looking back on the history of making special pressings from original metals, we are proud to be continuing the work of Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Bill Seltsam and IRCC, Addison Foster and others. In range and scope, particularly in respect of material otherwise unavailable on ‘78s’ Historic Masters has now surpassed the catalogues of those who pioneered the concept. It is a quirk of fate that we are achieving this when manufacture of the gramophone record as we know and love it has become almost obsolete.

This new issue covers forty years of gramophone history. It includes once again a significant number of Russian items. Both chance and foresight contributed to the fact that EMI’s Archive is rich in pre-Soviet Russian recordings. The best of these take us back to an almost forgotten operatic era. On this occasion we include two extremely rare sides by the baritone Nikolai Shevelev, an unpublished item by Eugenia Bronskaya and, in many ways most exotic of all, a major rarity by the virtually unknown van Brandt. Another singer, new to the series, is Helge Roswaenge. The items by Elisabeth Schumann and Hina Spani have never previously appeared in original form. Once again a donor is making available a free disc – this time two more titles by the superb contralto, Eugenia Zbrueva. The issue is completed by a bonus disc of Walter Widdop which turns up commonly on extremely noisy, sub-standard shellac.

Collectors hardly need reminding that it is now more than 40 years since regular production of 78 rpm discs ceased. It is more than a decade since the introduction of the CD. In this context it is a miracle that we have so far found ways to continue our activities. However, nothing can be taken for granted. We depend on the EMI Archive to make available the metal masters and on the EMI Factory to manufacture the records. We depend equally on our customers to ensure our financial solvency by ordering each issue promptly.

Subscribers may like to know something of our future hopes and plans. Historic Masters will be responsible for a new issue of de Lucia Phonotypes early next year. This issue will comprise up to eight double-sided discs including material which was never published in 78 rpm form. Hopefully, we will also produce two regular Historic Master issues during the millenium year. Schedueled for inclusion are unpublished items by Smirnoff, Melba, Butt and Lubin. We will also be issuing a record by the great golden age tenor van Dyck.

Finally, one note of caution – although it is perhaps hardly necessary for our regular subscribers. Metal matrices date back at least fifty years and often they are more than ninety years old. However well they have been stored, there may be some deterioration. The production process cannot remove faults which are endemic. We often have to make hard decisions as to whether or not to issue a particular record. Subscribers can be assured that we aim to produce records in the best sound possible. Those collectors who own styli in different sizes may find that experimentation will lead to better reproduction.


“Wie glanzt der helle Mond” and “Nimmersatte liebe” (Hugo Wolf)

Matrices Oea 10779-5 and Oea 10781-1

Recorded in London 2.10.48 and 27.11.45 and unpublished – 78 rpm

HM 138 HINA SPANI (1896-1969)

“Willow Song” (Otello) and “Sombre foret” (Guillaume Tell)

Matrices CF 1626 -2 and OF 168 -3

Recorded in Milan 3.4.38 and 7.7.31 and unpublished – 78 rpm

HM 139 HELGE ROSWAENGE (1897-1972)

“Heimsallied” and “Barcarolle” (Balkanliebe)

Matrices ORA 2462-1 and 2463-1

Recorded in Berlin, November 1937 and issued as EG 6165 – 78 rpm

HM 140 NIKOLAI SHEVELEV (1874-1929)

“O triomphe” (Quo Vadis) and “Qui donc commande” (Henri V111)

Matrices 2525c and 2526c

Recorded in Moscow. Oct. 1911 and issued as 022250 and 022251 – 75 rpm

HM 141

Eugenia Bronskaya (1882-1953) Polonaise (Mignon)

matrix 2778c

Recorded in St. Petersburg 19.10.12 and unpublished – 83 rpm

Nadezhda Timofeevna van Brandt (1882- ?) “Fra l’erbe cosparse” (La Zingara)

matrix 6718p

Recorded in Paris 1907 and issued as 023023 – 80 rpm

HM 142 EUGENIA ZBRUEVA (1867-1936

“Izjaslav’s Entreaty” (Rogneda) and “I do not grieve” ( A Life for the Tsar)

matrices 2923 c and 2660c

Recorded in St. Petersburg Nov. 1913 and Oct. 1912 and issued as 023145 and 023119 – 74 rpm

HM 143 WALTER WIDDOP (1892-1949)

“Tom Bowling” (Dibdin) and “The Death of Nelson” (Braham)

Matrices Cc 18618 -3 and Cc 18619 -4

Recorded in London 11.3.30 and issued as D1833 – 78 rpm

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