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Sonntag, 12. April 2015

Schellack im Web: Die sächsische Landesbibliothek in Dresden

There are many sources in the web, where one can download historical recordings for free. I am just discovering some of these, and it is my plan to introduce here some of them in my blog. Today the first and one of the best is the Public Library at Dresden, who has a big offer of shellack recordings. The full name is "Sächsische Landes-Bibliothek, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden" They have been donated some big shellack collections and have digitalized them and offer them in 160 KB/s MP3 quality. That is not too good, but they began with the works some years ago when internet bandwith was not as high as today.

Baptist Hoffmann als Graf in Figaros Hochzeit 

The link to the "Archiv der Stimmen" can be found in the sidebar of this blog or here:
The art is just to find the right recordings. When you click on "Alle Aufnahmen anzeigen" you will be beaten to death with an unsorted list of 18.000 recordings. Better you enter the name of a singer in the searchline at the top and scroll through the recordings of a special artist. Some are not to be found, but some have a big lot of entries. For example some of the Hermien Bosetti recordings in my blog came from there.

The tracks can be downloaded and may be used for private purpose or non profit purpose by everyone. As this blog fulfills these conditions I have no doubt that it is legal to share some of the fruits of my investigations with you.

As you can see from the labels at the foot of my blog or if you follow this blog already for years you may know that I am always circling in spirals around some singers that have aroused my interest. So I have downloaded many recordings of singers from the Berlin Court Opera which were featured in the "Leporello" photo album I presented in my other blog, and I would like to share and comment it here.

First of all: the recordings show all beauty and also confusion of old records from the G&T and Predog era (1902-1908) : sometimes unclear desriptions and an uncertain playing speed. At the SLUB, all recordings (I think it is so,,,) are transfered with 78 rpm, which for early Gramophone records is often too fast. Many of them are recorded between 68 and 75 rpm and you get Micky Mouse voices when you play them too fast. But here it is a lot of your feelings as listener asked: you do not know how the voices sounded really, and transpositions were in use in these days much more than today without inhibition. But the singers weren't used to pose for a gramophone, and often you get honest and unsophisticatersd interpretations. So I like especially these early recordings and I am glad to get an overview of the work of a singer of whom I have found in the days of my shellack collecting only two or three titles.

A last word on the SLUB recordings: in earlier days only clips of 30 seconds could be listened too, and some of the recordings are still only available in a cut way. In my case it was the Duett of Therese Rothauser with Paul Knüpfer from Rosenkavalier, recorded 1912, which could not been listened to, and two Strauss lieder by Walter Kirchhoff. And sometimes damaged recordings were transfered "as they are" and are not fully listenable (No, 30 of my playlist is an example for this...).

But all in all a very laudable untertaking. When I die some day I would be glad if my records were presented like this to the world and would survive in that way my physical existence. I know many stories of passed collectors whose records went to the thrift store or were given to the junk by the helpless heirs...

Baptist Hoffmann as Telramund, Berlin Court Opera

Rudolf Berger in the same role, same costume, same helmet, same beard etc...

Now I start with my playlist and give some comments, too. I have selected especially all the Lied recordings I could find from (three of) the five featured singers. The files were not changed or optimated by me, only correctly tagged. The usual problem with MP3-files while listening to them is, that they play without pause - a reason why I put 4 seconds of silence at the end of all of my self made MP3 files since a few years. The shown pictures of the labels (on the site of SLUB) are also included in my folder. Often they are not fully useable because the space where the matrix number can be seen is cut off, but it is always a fine emotion for a collector to look at these old labels...
I propose to observe when you give pictures of labels: make a photo or scan of the whole label and the whole space near the label until the beginning of the grooves (in German called "Spiegel"/mirror) to obtain all important informations about the record.

Playlist: Sänger der Berliner Hofoper 1908

Baptist Hoffmann (1864 - 1937)

A remarkably soft voice with a very fine legato, even if there are some Wagnerian rolling "r"s. His voice was new to me, as I never found a shellack recording of him. A fine discovery!

  1. Meistersinger - Fliedermonolog (Parlophon P.679)
  2. Meistersinger - Verachtete mir die Meister nicht (Parlophon P.1177)
  3. Margarethe - Valentins Gebet (Parlophon P.1158)
  4. Tannhäuser - Blick ich umher (Zonophone X-2-22073)
  5. Fliegender Holländer - Wie aus der Ferne (Gram. 042120, Mx. 502 i)
  6. Afrikanerin - Dir o Königin (Zonophone X-2-22077)
  7. Carmen - Torerolied (Parlophon P.1159)

Wilhelm Grüning (1852-1942)

Again a very mobile (tenor) voice with no baritonal timbre and a fine legato. His Lied recordings were new to me. He made many recordings on different, sometimes very small and obscure labels in Berlin. I think that many of his recordings here are reproduced too fast. Or could it be true that his voice sounded that light? In every case he is one of the old Wagner tenors, who could also sing a good Tamino or Elias. (The end of No. 28 "Am Meer" is cut off a bit...) 

  8. Lohengrin - Nun sei bedankt (Schallplatte Grammophon V*2-22071, mx. 1039 1/2 ab)
  9. Lohengrin - Atmest du nicht (Schallplatte Grammophon V*2-22072, mx. 1040 ab)
10. Lohengrin - Lohengrins Abschied pt. 1 (Mein lieber Schwan) G&T 3-42454, Mx. 3791 h
11. Lohengrin - Lohengrins Abschied pt. 2 (Kommt er dann heim) G&T 3-42455, Mx. 3792 b
12. Walküre - Liebeslied (PreDog 4-42087, Mx. 7300 L)
13. Rückkehr des Parsifal zum Gral (Black & Silver Columbia 40726)
14. Lohengrin - Höchstes Vertrau'n (G&T 3-42390, Mx. 3788 h)
15. Lohengrin - Atmest du nicht (G&T 3-42391, Mx. 3789 h)
16. Lohengrin - Nun sei bedankt, mein lieber Schwan (G&T 3-42410, Mx. 3790 h)
17. Rienzi - Erstehe, holde Roma, neu (G&T 3-42767, Mx. 9786 u)
18. Rienzi - Allmächt'ger Vater (PreDog 4-42088, Mx. 7301 L)
19. Der Freischütz - Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen (Gram. V*2-022086, Mx. 1038 ab)
20. Zauberflöte - Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (Gram. V*2-022085, Mx. 1041 ab)
21. Elias-So ihr mich von ganzem Herzen sucht (Mendelssohn) Polyphon 23763, Mx. 13749 r
22. Margarethe - Auftritt des Faust mit Chor (G&T 042128, Mx. 512 1/2 i)
23. Auf Flügeln des Gesanges (Mendelssohn) Polyphon 21762, 13740 r
24. Mondnacht (Schumann) SG 942659, Mx. 13744 r
25. Du bist wie eine Blume (Schumann) SG 942860, Mx. 13745 r
26. Ich grolle nicht (Schumann) Conc 942311 Mx. 13954 L
27. Der Neugierige (Schubert) SG 942657, Mx. 13742 r
28. Am Meer (Schubert) SG 942658, Mx. 13743 r
29. Auf Flügeln des Gesanges (Mendelssohn) Conc. 942310, Mx. 13952 L

Wilhelm Grüning als junger Parsifal (1.Akt)

Wilhelm Grüning als gereifter Parsifal (3.Akt)

Rudolf Berger (1874 - 1915)

Here are four more Berger recordings from the vaults of the SLUB, all from his time as a baritone. The first record, one of the first 12 inch/30 cm-G&Ts, has a warp or a severe strike and reproduces not correctly at the beginning, but these early are very rare today and not easy to find. At the time of when it was published first, these 30cm-records did cost the weeks salary of a normal worker, and not many people bought them. Columbia tried in 1904 with their Black and Silver label series to install a competitor to Gramophone on the German market but soon had to give up as the Gramophone company was at that time already too big (and good). It is always fine to find a B&S Columbia as they are rare.

30. Tannhäuser - O du mein holder Abendstern (G&T 042071, Mx. 266 i) 
31. Fliegender Holländer - Wie aus der Ferne (Odeon 50314, Mx. xB 2398)
32. Tannhäuser - Lied an den Abendstern (Odeon 50315, Mx. xB 2502)
33. Wildschütz - Heiterkeit und Fröhlichkeit (Lortzing) B&S Col. 40124

Walter Kirchhoff (1879-1951)

Kirchhoff, a generation younger than Grüning, sings also very musically. His declamation is eloquent and his Loge is really good. Nos. 34-37 show him in his prime, the Beka is an early recording, and the Lied recordings are also very fine. The Busslied is from op. 49, the sixth of the Gellert Lieder of Beethoven.

34. Rheingold - Über Stock und Stein (Schallplatte Grammophon 042485, Mx. 790 m)
35. Rheingold - Immer ist Undank Loges Lohn (SG 042486. Mx. 789 m)
36. Lohengrin - Höchstes Vertrau'n (SG 042478, Mx. 786 m)
37. Lohengrin - In fernem Land (SG 042479. Mx. 787 m)
38. Lohengrins Abschied (Beka-Grand 7216)
39. Widmung (Schumann) Beka-Grand 7218
40. Der Himmel hat eine Träne geweint (Schumann) SG 942880, Mx. ?
41. Busslied 1. Teil (Beethoven) SG 4-42603, Mx. 18281 L
42. Busslied 2. Teil (Beethoven) SG 4-42604, Mx. 18282 L

Therese Rothhauser (1863-1943)

The only traceable B&S Columbia (out of five, I think) of Therese Rothhauser, who died in the ghetto in Theresienstadt. Another recording (Rosenkavalier excerpts with Paul Knüpfer on Gramophone from 1912) is also in the collection of the SLUB, but can only be listened to as a 30 seconds soundclip. So this is the only souvenir of a once highly estimated singer.

43. Carmen - Habanera (Col. B&S 40605-1 B)

Most Gramophone recordings (Nos. 8-12, 14-20, 22-29, 34-37, 40-43) should be with the accompaniment of the Gramophone orchestra directed by Bruno Seidler-Winkler or with piano by Bruno Seidler-Winkler.

Date of the recordings

As I have no valid sources at hand like the book of Kelly about the German Gramophone matrix numbers and CHARM is also not very helpful in the most ways (I have not checked everything) I can only guess and estimate the recording dates, I think readers will help in the comments afterwards to correct this...
So here are my propositions:

1: 1911
2-3, 7 : About 1912
4 and 6: About 1908
8-9, 19-20: About 1910-12
10-11: About 1905
12: About 1907
13, 22: About 1904-05
14-16: About 1905
17: About 1906
18: About 1907-08
21, 23-29: 1914
30: About 1903
31-32: May 1907, Conductor Friedrich Kark (verified)
33: About 1904
34-37: About 1914
38-39: About 1905-07
40-42: About 1915
43: About 1905

Hauptseite des "Archiv der Stimmen" in der SLUB Dresden

Heute stelle ich die Website der Sächsischen Landes- und Universitäts-Bibliothek in Dresden vor, die 18.000 (?) Schellackplattenseiten zum Download anbietet. Sie ist damit vermutlich die größte öffentlich zugängliche Schallplattensammlung in Deutschland. Ich finde das Konzept vorbildlich und würde mir wünschen, dass alle Sammlungen so gut zugänglich wären. Natürlich gibt es kleinere Dinge, die man kritisieren könnte, z.B. dass die Dateien "nur" in 160 KB/s MP3-Qualität angeboten werden, dass manche Platten nicht vollständig überspielt sind, sondern nur als 30 Sekunden-Clip (vermutlich ein Überrest aus der Anfangszeit des Archivs) angeboten werden, dass manche Label-Scans nicht gut sind (Matritzennummern nicht lesbar etc.). Aber insgesamt ist das Angebot sehr zu empfehlen, und für den privaten und wissenschaftlichen Gebrauch dürfen die Downloads uneingeschränkt genutzt werden.

Die Sammlung ist frei durchsuchbar. Die Funktionen zum Stöbern sind nicht sehr übersichtlich, aber wenn man weiß, was man sucht, kann man schon sehr interessante Dinge finden.

Anzeige der einzelnen Platten

Ich habe mir selbst eine Playlist zusammengestellt, nachdem ich meine Leporello-Mappe in meinem anderen Blog vorgestellt hatte, um mehr von den abgebildeten Berliner Sängern zu erfahren. Eine dieser Listen möchte ich hier teilen und gleichzeitig ein wenig Werbung für die Sammlung in Dresden machen. Ich wäre froh, wenn meine Platten nach meinem Tode so gut für die "Welt" zugänglich wären wie die Platten in Dresden. Meine Idee vom Internet als Speicher für das Erbe der musikalische Aufnahmen der Menschheit bekommt hier neue Nahrung und inspiriert mich, weiter darüber nachzudenken, wie ich meine Sammlung dereinst, noch zu oder nach Lebzeiten, einmal im Internet präsentieren kann...

Walther Kirchhoff präsentierte sich im 1. WK gerne als Soldat. Er starb 1951, was ein früherer Besitzer der Karte vermerkte


  1. Wonderful information! Thanks again!

  2. Emilio, it is great to see such an affectionate and yet clear-sighted review of the SLUB collection. I've been enjoying it (alphabetically - I'm in the middle of 'F' now :-) ) for a long time. Too many Wagnerian baritones without much to say, perhaps :-) but a wonderful collection & a fascinating one. there are so many early and forgotten singers there. And as you say the labels are a delight, especially the very earliest ones where the details may be scratched on to the record.

    I hope more collectors are encouraged to use the resource SLUB have made available; they deserve congratulations and thanks from all collectors for their efforts. (And they are pleased to hear that we love their work - do send them an email to say thank you!)