THE GRAMOPHONE. Vol. xx JUNE 1942 .
EDITORIAL Though I am well aware that a great many of our old friends are familiar with the story of the hirth of "The Granlophone," I think they will accept an old tale retold for the sake of the tnany new readers that this war has brought us.
I propose to publish by the courtesy ·of the B.B.C. in the Editorial the series of broadcasts I atn doing entitled " Collector's Corner" for readers who have not heard them and who may welcome my ideas for their Record collection.
with a catalogue of the music rolls in circulat ion I walked out into a rain-blurred Bond Street. When I got back to my club and se ttled down to enjoy what is surely the most delightful occupation available to man-·the marking of a catalogue whether i t be of seeds, of books or of gramophone recorels-I discovered to my disgust that tbe rolls of Beethoven and Tschaikovsky symphonies were no longer to be had and that I must rely for my repertory almost en tirely on selections from the faded musical comedies of the two or three previous decades. Next morning I was round at the
Collectors' Corner, No. 1 Broadcast on May 25th, 1942
TRE idea of this se ries of talh called Collectors' Corner is that I who have been lucky enough to get acquainted with an enormous number of g!'amophone records should attempt to give some advice abollt forming a collection of records. I am not very fond of giving advice and 1 absolutely detest taking i t , so I hope p eople will accept what I shall have to say as mercly the expression of personal likes and dislikes without the slightest didactic value. The only justification, indeed, for my saying anything about this business of starting a collection of records is that nobody can possibly know less about records and gramophones than I knew about them when on a we t dusk in the early Spring of 1922 fate decided to provide me with a passion which has endured for twenty years. At that t ime I had just acquired a lease of H erm in the Channel Islands, and i t occurred to me th a t H erm offered exactly the setting required for an Aeolian organ. Nearly another twenty years earlier a fri end of mine with whom I was living at Burford in Oxfordshire had owned an Aeolian and a large collection of roils, which included symphonies of Bee thoven and Tschaikovsky and a quantitv of other classical music. These I had played, day in and day out through a solitary winter, rather as a form of physical than aesthe tic C'xercise and as a relaxation from hour after hour concentrated upon writing poetry.
The Aeolian Hall was on the point of closing on that wet Spring evening, but not even the weariest salesman can resist a customer who comes in and announces that he wants to buy immediately an instrument costing some sixty pounds and who d emands to know ifit can be sent down to the Channel Islands next day. The hire purchase agreement was concluded at once and armed
2 Behind the Needle-XXIV
Herbert C. Ridout
3 Turn Table Talk 4 Analytical Notes and First Reviews 6 Miscellaneous and Dance 8 Jazz ~dgar /ackson 10 .. Le Lac Des Cygnes "
Douglas W. Churchill
11 My Interest in Music and the
Gramophone Philip A. Humble 12 The Record Collector-Ill
13 Correspondence 14 Readers' Choice
P. G. Hurst
Aeolian Hall again asking what was to be done about my disappointment. The instrument no longer interested me. There seemed very l i t t le to be done, because I had already signed the hire purchase agreement, and the Muses had handed over to Mammon. I pointed out that the prospect of pumping air into an organ month after month merely to evoke The Quaker Girl or The Arcadians didn't appeal to me. I said that after I had tried both of them first with the Vox Angdiea and then with the Vox Humana and finally with the most powerful Diapason available I was likely to grow t ired of The Quaker Girl and The Arcadians and that my Aeolian organ would soon go the way of so many other similar instruments and become a cross between a sideboard and a whatnot. At last a compromise was suggested. Would I consider buying a Vocalion gramophone, and as many records as would equal the amount invested in the hire purchase of the Aeolian?
"A gramophone," I ejaculated scornfully. "yvhat ,~n earth would I do with a gramophone ?
"We have a very fine Hepplewhite model and we have a new device by which the volume of sound can be controlled," said the salesman earnestly. I can't resist recalling this ridiculous device which consisted o(a kind of spongebag that one thrust into the mouth of the horn and inflated or deflated by squeezing a rubber tube. When one squeezed hard the spongebag swelled and the music was reduced to a pianissimo. I was still organ-minded and this notion of applying crescendos and diminuendoes to gramophone records rather appealed to me as a medium for virtuosity. So I agreed to buy the gramophone instead of the organ and found to my gratification and surprise that the Vocalion catalogue of records contained quite a lot of chamber music. A week later the instrument and the records arrived on Herm. The last t ime I had listened to a gramophone had been in Athens in 191 6-a small and very bad portable whose repertory consisted of six ten-inch records almost as old as the Parthenon and hardly less battered by t ime. Before that I had listened to a gramophone we had in Cornwall in 1909 when only Caruso seemed worth l istening to and a solo violin sounded like a bluebottle under a glass. Among the Vocalion records was a shortened versiDn on four single-sided discs of Schumann's Piano Quintet. Without expecting anything more than a buzz from t ime to t ime slightly resembling remote music, I put on the first disc. I was amazed at the advance which had been made both in recording and reproduction. I had elltered a new world. I have with me at this moment that old Vocalion disc of twenty years ago and I'll play some of it, tbough you who hear i t now after enjoying the marvels of electric recording will think I was extreglely sanguine in being able to hear the gramophone of to-day in this old record (play part of record Vocal ion A.O. 162). In a minute or two I'll play a more recent recording of that quintet so that you can mark the difference that the years have made to the development of the gramophone.
D Iring the rest of tha t Spring of 11)22 I was acquiring gramophone records in some quantity, and when I next visited London on my way out to Capri, the gramophone had become an absorbing passion. I happened to talk about i t to the late Robin Legge who was then musical editor of the I)aily Telegraph and he suggested that I should write him an article for his page. This I did in Capri and was astounded by the number of letters r received from readers. I had had no inkling of what the