Th.e GraJrwphone, September, 1926
THE GRAMOPHONE AND THE SINGER
(Continued) By HERMAN KLEIN Some Columbia "Celebrities "-1.
English audiences ever loved, i t ~eems to me ~~ thousand pities that the whole of hi 3 splendid Columbia records should now be relegated to the limbo of a bygone era. Perhaps, however, a small but choice selection of David Bispham records may, in spite of all their prehistoric defects, yet be included in the October article on this subject, which will deal with the sterner, even as the present
IT was rather over two years ago-in June, 1924, to be exact-when I told the readers of THE GRAMOPHONE, in the first of these articles, the story of my connection with the original Columbia Company as organized in the city of New York at the beginning of this century. I mention i t again now with no purpose of recapitulation-that being quite unnecessary-but merely to explain why I feel a personal interest in some of the a,rti1:;ts and the records that faJI under the category of Columbia" Celebrities." }fost of them I knew well personally, and in the making of certain of their records i t was my privilege to take an active part.
My sole regret is that i t should have been found requisite to expunge so many of both' from the latest Columbia catalogues, either because some of the recording of fifteen or twenty years ago has not stood the test of time, or because of the failure of tl:J.e artist to attract sales, or, most likely of all, the loss of or irreparable damage to the original master matrix. But i t is good to see that so many of these e~t.l'lier "celebrity" records still justify theil' existence-in their actual recording qualities as well as, presumably, in their sales.
is to deal with the fairer, sex. Meanwhile I may mention that Bispham was by far the most successful of the group of new record-makers whom I introduced to the Columbia atelier; things like his wonderful renderings of Schubert's Hark, ha'l'k the lark! and WaIter Damrosch's setting of Danny Deever have for years had a huge sa,}e in the United States and Canada.
But the first real (80pra,no) Celebrity to sing for Columbia was the talented and lamented American prima donna, Lillian Nordica. How I had the good fortune to bring that about was related in deta,il in the article already referred to. Admirable alike in opera and oratorio, she was a no less versatile singer in her way than was B ispham in his; and both were equally distinguished as interpreters of
Speaking of recording qualities, a goodly proportion of the forty-two records of my own" Phono-vocal Method" for learning singing by the aid of the :gra,mophone are even now quite acceptable specimens. So, I think, were many others worth preser'ving for the sake of the singers and the singing, which no longer figure in the Columbia l ist ,(or, at any ritte, in the" Celebrity" section) that were recorderl by such gifted artists as Lillian Blauvelt, Ruth Vincent, Edouard de Reszke, Anton van Rooy, and David Bispham. *
The last-named baritone more especially had the voice and the faculty for recording magnificently; a::J.d, since he was one of the most versatile, clever, interesting singers that America ever produced or .• Not e. -I am, however, informed that in all these cases the records were withdrawn because of m~tl'ix breakdown and failure.
Lieder and of leading Wagnerian roles. Nordica was perhaps le's successful than her countryman in overcoming the difficulties of record-making which then prevailed, but I am convinced that this would not have been the case i f she had had the advantages conferred by the electrical developments now existing.
Her voice, i t may be remembered, was of a very unusual and individual quality, something between a dramatic soprano and the rather l ighter kind known as the lyrical or, as the Italians term i t , mezzo-camttere. Hence her rare capacity for singing music and roles of the most varied and widelycontrasted types. 'When I fiTst heard her at the Crystal PaJace, as soloist with Gilmore's American band in 1878, her vocal education had not been half completed, but the telling resonance of her