THE GRAMOPHONE Londen Office : 58, Frith Street, London, W. 1.
Edited by COMPTON MACKENZIE
TBLBPHONII: Regent 1383.
TBLBGRAMS : Parmaxto, Westcent, London.
IWANT to say a few words about the National Gramophonic Society this month. To be perfectly frank, we are not getting the support from our readers on this side of the Atlantic that we get from the other. I fully recognise the growing embarrassment for the purse of the riches which the recording companies offer us every month, but there have been several occasions lately when I have had to ask myself whether there is still any real need for such a society as ours. It is beginning to look as i f the greater and lesser recording companies were providing all the Chamber Music that the public at home can absorb, and i t was with this feeling of uneasiness about the value of the N .G .S. that I recently put out a " feeler" in the matter of song recording. I should like to be able to announce that the response I received was more encouraging than i t has been, hut though several enthusiasts have acclaimed the idea and given us the benefit of their suggestions, the general response has not been lively enough to encourage us to proceed any further with this scheme at present. We are still receiving enough support for our publications of Chamber Music to warrant our continuing with them, but if we are merely going to record charming Quartets of Haydn and Mozart, which will inevitably sooner or later be given to us by the recording companies, I shall have to consider very seriously the value of our activities, which are, as may be imagined, a great additional strain upon an already overworked staff. At this point let me print a delightful letter we have received from Mr. William Braid White, whose monthly articles are the most refreshing feature of the Talking Machine World in America, which is by far the largest magazine of its kind in the world :-
" May I thank you most heartily for the perfectly charming records which came a few days ago, giving me the latest fruits of the activities of your wonderful Society. The recording in the case of both the Mozart flute quartet and the Haydn 'Sunrise' quartet is beautifully done, and i t is difficult to say which of the two is better. Music-lovers the world over owe you a tremendous debt 011 gratitude. The example of the N.G.S. has been very possibly the greatest single force in compelling the commercial manufacturers of records to take their courage in both hands and go forward along artistic lines. It is difficult to know where the record situation would be to-day if i t had not been for the high-mindedness and intrepidity of you and your associates.
"Thanks to you, we have to-day permanent records of some of the loveliest and least known, both of classical and of modern work. Lovers of chamber music will never cease to bless your name, and among those who sing your praises daily I beg that you will number the name of William Braid White."
Encouragement . like this does make us feel .that i t is worth while to persevere, and to Mr. Braid White's spontaneous and generous praise I must add my thanks to that group of enthusiasts who manage the excellent American monthly review called .The Phonograph. They have never failed to recognise the value 011 our enterprise, and never hesitated . to give i t the prominence which we at any rllte think i t deserves. We are also indebted to some of the most enterprising firms in the U.S.A. for their ·efforts to make our Society 's existence felt over that side. But once again I ask myself, what about the future ? It has always been my dream to give opportunities of being heard on the gramophone, not merely to combinations of players, but also to composers, and i t has naturally been a great pride and pleasure when such a combination as the International String Quartet is recognised with the scarlet and gold of the H.M.V. Celebrity discs. I do not mean to claim that the International String Quartet could not have reached that eminence without our help. I am enough of an optimist to believe that all really good things finally gain recognition, but I do claim that a society like the N.G.S., if i t were accorded the support i t deserves, might hasten that recognition, not merely, as I said before, of combinations of players, but also of composers, and i t is precisely in the reception that our readers seem inclined to accord to ail modern music that I find my chief reason for doubting the value of our work in the immediate future. Whenever we have sent out a voting l ist we always find that the majority records i ts vote in favour of old music against new, and if we examine our sales we shall find that most of the contemporary work we have recorded has been comparatively poorly supported, and I ask myself what earthly chance we should have of obtaining the least recognition for ihe work of our modern composers. So long as the big . recording companies were shy of publishing chamber music I saw no reason to deprive our snp-