Taken from the Summer issue of CLASSIC RECORD COLLECTOR.

Roger Beardsley

Commitment, enthusiasm, joie de vivre: these qualities all characterised Roger Beardsley and would infect those who worked with him on so many projects. His sudden and totally unexpected death has been an awful shock to the wider recording industry and at a very personal level has affected all who knew and worked with him. In the art of transferring recorded sound from an original to a later more modern medium he was one of the outstanding engineers. His major accomplishments during the years in which I knew and worked with him lay in transferring both 78rpm shellac discs and live recordings on to CDs and into other digital formats.

The early years of Roger’s professional career were with BBC Radio Leeds. After going freelance he produced many CDs, mostly of historic vocal material, for Pearl – all of the highest quality. More recently he has been a key member of Music Preserved, helping to build up its major archive, held at the University of York. The importance of this work cannot be over-estimated. Music itself is indestructible but performances can be lost. Roger’s work has helped to preserve live performances – hopefully for all time. Archives offer an invaluable means of preservation, but ultimately their greatest value rests in making treasures widely available, and that is where Roger’s work on Music Preserved’s downloads will surely be well remembered.

Roger’s role at Historic Masters was even more wide-ranging. At a technical level he was involved in assessing the suitability of metals in the EMI and DG archives for the production of vinyl pressings – both through examination of the originals and then careful listening to tests. From time to time he would offer technical notes with the issued records. At the opposite end of the spectrum he was responsible for sales and distribution and for keeping the books. All told it added up to an unlikely collection of responsibilities. But Roger took this multi-tasking in his stride. He was also an indefatigable researcher and this was what led him into a major project to list in detail the entire output of the Fonotipia company on a database. This was issued as a CD Rom, enabling the user to group recordings by artist, date and in numerous other ways. Even after the CD Rom was published Roger continued to discover more information and add more data and may well have been planning an other edition at the time of his death. Roger also worked with the EMI archive in revising its catalogue of metal parts and more recently in seeking to develop a full listing of all its Berliner records.

In his own right Roger was a passionate collector of early vocal records and like the rest of us would participate in, and enjoy, lengthy conversations about the respective merits of this or that performance or comparing published with unpublished takes. Like the rest of us he had his favourites as well as a few ‘pet hates’. Amongst his favourite artists were Nellie Melba, Conchita Supervia and Francesco Tamagno. Roger wanted to share his passion: this is one reason why all three singers have featured relatively prominently in Historic Masters issues.

It is good to recall that Roger also found time to enjoy private life with his close family: he never hesitated to say from time to time that for a particular weekend or few days he would not be available for Historic Masters. He will indeed be much missed. RIP.
Stanley Henig

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