Our complete catalogue will soon comprise 150 discs – 299 sides of which 82 have never previously been available in original 78 rpm format. Looking back on the history of 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. A member of our committee, Tom Peel is working on a comprehensive listing of vocal 78s pressed from original masters and which were re-issued on these labels. We think this will in due course demonstrate that in range and scope, particularly in respect of material otherwise unavailable on ‘78s’, Historic Masters has now surpassed those of the pioneers. It is a quirk of fate that we are achieving this at a time when manufacture of the gramophone record as we know and love it has become virtually obsolete.

Hopefully, all this will be regarded as good news for our subscribers. And yet more good news! Once again there are seven records in our new issue and they include no less than five hitherto unpublished items. It also includes records by four singers not hitherto featured on Historic Masters – Luigi Simonetta-Rangoni, Otto Tamini, Ernest van Dyck and Pavel Tikhonov. This time tenors are well represented – no fewer than four! The record of Ernest van Dyck is particularly important. He was one of the very greatest tenors of the late nineteenth century and made just a few highly prized records. The entire twenty third series is devoted to acoustic recordings – all made between 1908 and 1919. Some collectors may be surprised – to put it mildly(!) – that we have included two seemingly hackneyed titles by Clara Butt. You may wonder what they are doing in a series so often devoted to more obscure and recondite pieces of music. Well just listen to these records of Dame Clara! These two records are absolutely unique. They are made with just a piano and were intended to be reproduced in public halls with an live orchestra playing a full accompaniment – the joys of technology! Butt’s voice is reproduced in a way we have never before heard it. Truly the voice of the century. Mind you, Melba might have had something to say about that! Our new issue includes two unpublished and almost unknown sides by Dame Nellie! The aria from Tosca is particularly interesting since she never sang the role on stage. Finally, we also include two more sides by the peerless Lilli Lehmann – surely the greatest soprano ever to have made records. She had a repertoire of over two hundred roles.

Although Historic Masters is facing many uncertainties, not least financial, we have already placed the order for pressing our twenty fourth issue which will include two sides by the wonderful French tenor, Paul Franz and an unpublished item by Selma Kurz.

The usual warning is perhaps hardly necessary for our regular subscribers. Metal parts used in manufacturing our records invariably date back at least fifty years. In the case of this current twenty third issue they date back at least eighty years. However well they have been stored, there is almost bound to be some some deterioration. We also have to acknowledge that often the reason why records remained unpublished was that the engineers at the time were not satisfied with their technical quality. 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 now possible. Those collectors who own styli in different sizes may find that experimentation will lead to better reproduction.

HMB 144 LILLI LEHMANN (1848-1929)

“Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core” (La Traviata) and “Prendero quell brunettino” (Cosi fan tutte)

with HEDWIG HELBIG (1869 –1951)

Matrices XB3047 and XB3061; Recorded in Berlin 1907 (both sides); 74 rpm (side one) and 77 rpm (side two)

HMB 145 DMITRI SMIRNOV (1881-1944)

“Plus blanche” (Les Huguenots) and “Tranquility” (Kazhevarov)

Matrices 2546c and 2681c; Recorded in St. Petersburg on Nov. 20th 1911 and Oct. 19th 1912; 76 rpm (side one) and 78rpm (side two)


“Quando tu vidi”/”Io dei salute” (Wolf-Ferrari) and “Nebbie” (Resphighi)

Matrices 20433b and 20454b; Recorded in Milan on April 29th and May 2nd 1919; 78rpm (both sides)

HMB 147 NELLIE MELBA (1861 –1931)

“Vissi d’arte” (Tosca) and “The Sounds of the Earth Grow Faint” (Ronald)

Both previously unpublished

Matrices 4186f and 4194f; Recorded in London on May 11th 1910 (both sides); 78rpm and 77rpm

HMB 148 CLARA BUTT (1873-1936)

“Land of Hope and Glory” (Elgar) and “Peace and Rest (Batten)

Both previously unpublished

Matrices 4974f and 4554f; Recorded in London on April 24th 1911 and Oct. 28th 1910; 78rpm (both sides)

HMB 149 OTTO TAMINI (1880-? )

“Du bist wie eine Blume” (Schumann)

Matrix 2786f; Recorded in London Jan. 21st 1909; 78rpm


ERNEST VAN DYCK (1861-1923)

“Du bist wie eine Blume” (Schumann)

Matrix XPh 539; Recorded in Paris 1905; 85rpm


“They guess the truth” (A Life for the Tsar) and “Landgrave’s Monologue” (Tanhauser)

Matrices 2788c and 2789c; Recorded in St. Petersburg April 17th 1913; 80rpm and 79rpm

Tagged with:

Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.