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liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355083
01/09/06 12:24 PM
01/09/06 12:24 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 283
NYC
gordonf238 Offline OP
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gordonf238  Offline OP
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while, despite my best (and unsuccessful) efforts to magically uncover (even if just in myth) that a possible tinfoil/phonograph recording of liszt-himself playing might exist, in the process i've come across some information of related recordings which may bring us closest to how the masters of the 19th century played themselves. here are some useful excerpts and links:

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Scott's phonautograph (1857)

[Linked Image]

The earliest known invention of a phonographic recording device was the phonautograph, invented by Edouard-Leon Scott and patented on March 25, 1857. It could transcribe sound to a visible medium, but had no means to play back the sound after it was recorded. The device consisted of a horn that focused sound waves onto a membrane to which a hog's bristle was attached, causing the bristle to move and enabling it to inscribe a visual medium. Other versions would draw a line representing the sound wave on to a roll of paper. The phonautograph was a laboratory curiosity for the study of acoustics.


Edison's phonograph (1877)

[Linked Image]

Thomas Alva Edison announced his invention of the first phonograph, a device for recording and replaying sound, on November 21, 1877 and he demonstrated the device for the first time on November 29 (he patented it on February 19, 1878; US Pat. No. 200,521). Edison's early phonographs recorded onto a phonograph cylinder using an up-down (vertical) motion of the stylus.

But just how did the music of the years right before the phonograph actually sound? This remains a frustrating and impenetrable mystery. Literary descriptions are imprecise, memories have faded and scholars can only speculate. Perhaps the key to solving this puzzle lies in the groove of an obscure early record.

The origin of the phonograph held little promise of its ultimate value.Thomas Edison and his new invention History tells us that the first record was made in 1877 by Thomas Edison, who recited "Mary Had a Little Lamb" onto a tinfoil cylinder and played it back to an astonished staff.

It is safe to say that until 1900 no artist of any stature made commercial records.

[Linked Image]

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000000WY9/

Nearly every other great pianist in the concert halls at the end of the nineteenth century (and in the recording studios at the beginning of the twentieth) had been a pupil of either Franz Liszt or Theodor Leschetizky. But both emphasized developing a performer's individuality, and so there is really no consistent manner among their students. Thus, the recordings of Liszt's own First Piano Concerto by his pupils Emil van Sauer (Pearl CD 9403) and Arthur de Greef (Opal 829, LP only) sound strikingly different. Similarly, the graduates of the Leschetizky method, such as it was, included such divergent stylists as Ignaz Friedman, whose reputation tended toward headstrong, thundering virtuosity, Ignaz Paderewski, whose immense popularity owed as much to his politics and charisma (not to mention his abundant hair) than his flawed but deeply poetic playing, and Artur Schnabel, whose cool, cerebral readings of Mozart, Schubert and especially Beethoven went far toward molding our modern taste.

A fascinating cross-section of pianism is found on "Pupils of Liszt" (Pearl 9972, 2 CDs). But while these recordings amply attest to the students' highly individual personalities, they tell us little of the style of their teachers, who set the aesthetic of their time but whose self-effacing methods refused to mold their pupils into mimicry.

[Linked Image]

So how did the nineteenth century masters themselves play? We have no direct evidence. Liszt died in 1886. Leschetizky lived until 1915 but cut only piano rolls (one, a Chopin Nocturne, is on Opal CD 9839), which were often enhanced after the fact and tell little of a pianist's tone or quality; Leschetizky's is stiff and opaque. And yet, we do have a remarkable set of blueprints, albeit indirect ones.

Liszt was not only one of the greatest teachers of his century, but was also one of the two most influential performers, a supreme virtuoso who revolutionized the keyboard with his bombastic playing. He was also considered the greatest improviser of all time, unable to resist recomposing even a new score as he sight-read it for the very first time. The most extraordinary evidence of Lisztian playing arose nearly a century after his death in a most unlikely guise. Ervin Nyiregyhazi, born in Budapest in 1903, became enthralled and obsessed with Liszt. Those who had known the master lauded the teenager as his spiritual heir. But after a series of brilliant debuts and ecstatic reviews of his mesmerizing playing, Nyiregyhazi dropped out of sight. Fifty years and nine marriages later he resurfaced in 1973 in a Los Angeles flophouse. Having barely touched a keyboard in decades, he was coaxed into a recital in a local church, part of which (two Liszt "Legendes") was taped on a cheap cassette deck. Issued on Desmar LP IPA 111, this is perhaps the most intense performance ever recorded, with a power and a spirituality beyond anything else in the realm of modern experience. Following his rediscovery, Nyiregyhazi went on to became a critical darling and cut several studio albums, but none approached what he had achieved in that one astounding concert in which he resurrected the spirit of Liszt just once in our time.

[Linked Image]

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000000WVW

The other most influential pianist of the nineteenth century was Chopin, Raoul Koczalski whose exquisite subtlety was a world apart from Liszt's unbridled energy. Chopin died in 1849 and none of his students lived to record. And yet, a reliable trace of his style also exists in our century. Chopin's foremost pupil was Karl Mikuli, who devoted his life to teaching his master's approach to his works. One of Mikuli's pupils, Raoul Koczalski, was highly unusual in that he was a prodigy of such a high order that after studying with Mikuli he had no need of further teachers. Thus, having absorbed Chopin through Mikuli, he remained relatively immune from other influences. His records, collected on Pearl CD 9472, are as close as we will ever get to Chopin himself. They exemplify the composer's reputed rhythmic freedom, contain many ornaments not in the scores and reflect outmoded practices (such as having one hand slightly lead the other), all of which we must presume are authentic.

These faint melodies, plagued with the noise of early recorders are but ghostly echoes. They are an afterthought to an era in which the master piano figures lived and thrived.

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Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355084
01/09/06 04:27 PM
01/09/06 04:27 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 872
Scotland
drumour Offline
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Thank you.


John


Vasa inania multum strepunt.
Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355085
01/09/06 05:03 PM
01/09/06 05:03 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 283
NYC
gordonf238 Offline OP
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Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355086
01/09/06 05:10 PM
01/09/06 05:10 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 125
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Ailleur Offline
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What i did read (on this forum i think) is that Liszt refused to record on such device since the sound was so bad.

Shame for us he didnt figure out future generations would want some recordings of "the greatest pianist ever".

Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355087
01/09/06 05:31 PM
01/09/06 05:31 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 283
NYC
gordonf238 Offline OP
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gordonf238  Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by Ailleur:
What i did read (on this forum i think) is that Liszt refused to record on such device since the sound was so bad.

Shame for us he didnt figure out future generations would want some recordings of "the greatest pianist ever".
they should've sneaked it into his room when he wasn't looking. that's simply inexcusable!

Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355088
01/09/06 06:28 PM
01/09/06 06:28 PM
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Posts: 631
UK
jpw101 Offline
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I agree with the following comment, a footnote in Arthur Hedley's chapter of Alan Walker's Liszt symposium (Franz Liszt, The Man and his Music):

Quote
Rumours have long circulated concerning a cylinder recording--only to be mentioned in whispers!--which Liszt is supposed to have made in 1885. There seems to be nothing in this story, and it is better so. What could such a pathetic relic tell us of the King of Pianists?

Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355089
01/09/06 10:11 PM
01/09/06 10:11 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 10,966
Williamsburg, VA
Piano*Dad Offline
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Didn't Krause make some recordings? He was one of Liszt's students as well, though he may have been less influenced by him than some others.

Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355090
01/09/06 11:52 PM
01/09/06 11:52 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 5,446
Philadelphia
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Derulux Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by gordonf238:
Quote
Originally posted by Ailleur:
[b] What i did read (on this forum i think) is that Liszt refused to record on such device since the sound was so bad.

Shame for us he didnt figure out future generations would want some recordings of "the greatest pianist ever".
they should've sneaked it into his room when he wasn't looking. that's simply inexcusable! [/b]
While it is certainly possible Liszt did not record for that reason, I also think he chose not to for another reason, which probably parallels why he stopped playing major concerts. A legend is a legend is a legend, becomes a myth, unless the myth itself leaves a footprint to analyze. wink


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355091
01/10/06 10:01 PM
01/10/06 10:01 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 43
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Hofmanniac Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by gordonf238:


It is safe to say that until 1900 no artist of any stature made commercial records.
This may be the case, but it doesn't mean that artists of stature didn't make recordings at all. Hofmann recorded as early as 1888, and cylinders dating from 1896 still exist and will be released by Marston later this year. The earliest commercial recordings that I have are from 1903, recordings of Hofmann re-issued on cd.

Re: liszt recordings on tinfoil cylinders #355092
01/11/06 01:51 AM
01/11/06 01:51 AM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 827
Denver, Colorado
C.V. Alkan Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Ailleur:
Shame for us he didnt figure out future generations would want some recordings of "the greatest pianist ever".
Oh, but doesn't not having a recording add so much mystique?


- Zack -

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