Vintage Audio

Recording of the Month – Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffman (1912)

Lucy Isabelle Marsh

Lucy Isabelle Marsh

Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffman (Jacques Offenbach).
Performed by Lucy Isabelle Marsh & Marguerite Dunlap.
Victor 60096. Recorded in 1912.

Lucy Isabelle Marsh Society on Facebook.


Published: October 4, 2011

Voices of Christmas Past

I released VOCP 10 years ago and each year as we get closer to the Christmas holidays I get overwhelmed with requests for it. The disc is out of print and I have no copies left so I’ve uploaded the files for all to enjoy. Just scroll past the liner notes to get to the music player.

From the original liner notes: Of all things Christmas nothing is more traditional than the singing of carols and songs. Songs that capture in lyrics and in music the many traditions that we have at Christmas – the birth of the Christ child, the Christmas tree, the opening of gifts and even sleigh rides. Any well dressed sleigh ride featured those cheery sounding bells attached to the horse’s harness. In fact one of the most beloved Christmas songs ever, “Jingle Bells” celebrates this sound and the spirit of a country sleigh ride. On October 30, 1889 banjoist Will Lyle made history by recording “Jingle Bells”, the very first Christmas record. Although no known copies of this record survive one of the earliest vocal examples of “Jingle Bells” does survive on an Edison brown wax cylinder entitled, “Sleigh Ride Party”. It was made a decade later and was reissued for the first time on this CD (now out of print). This collection of carols, songs and monologues from the original vintage recordings capture the essence of the Christmas spirit as it was in the opening two decades of the 20th Century. So gather up the family, wind up the phonograph and take a trip back in time to the early 1900’s and celebrate the holidays with the “Voices of Christmas Past”.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

1. Santa Claus Hides in the Phonograph (Ernest Hare, recorded 1922)
2. On A Christmas Morning (Prince’s Orchestra, recorded 1911)
3. Sleigh Ride Party / Jingle Bells (Edison Male Quartette, recorded 1898)
4. Messiah – And the Glory of the Lord (Victor Mixed Chorus, recorded 1915)
5. Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Henry Burr, recorded 1907)
6. Silent Night, Hallowed Night (Haydn Quartet, recorded 1905)
7. Christmas Time at Pumpkin’ Center (Cal Stewart, recorded 1905)
8. Christmas Hymns (Francis J. Lapitino, recorded 1917)
9. When the Christmas Chimes Are Ringing (Lewis James, recorded 1922)
10. The Star of Bethlehem (Harry MacDonough, recorded 1909)
11. Come and Spend Christmas With Me (Byron G. Harlan, recorded 1909)
12. Christmas Morning at Clancey’s (Steve Porter, recorded 1922)
13. Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem (Trinity Choir, Recorded 1916)
14. Adeste Fideles (John McCormack and William Reitz, recorded 1915)
15. Night Before Christmas (Ernest Hare, recorded 1920)
16. Nutcracker Ballet: Chinese Dance/Dance of the Mirilitons (Victor Herbert’s Orchestra, recorded 1913)
17. On A Good Old Time Sleigh Ride (Peerless Quartet, recorded 1913)
18. Angels from the Realms of Glory (Trinity Choir, recorded 1916)
19. While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night / Christians Awake (Trinity Quartet, recorded 1921)
20. Uncle Josh Plays Santa Claus (Cal Stewart, recorded 1907)
21. Christmas in Camp (Anonymous, recorded ca. 1917)
22. Noel (Holy Night) (Venetian Trio, recorded 1916)
23. Auld Lang Syne (Navada Van der Veer, recorded 1921)


Published: December 2, 2008

Recording of the Month – The White Swan (March 1905)

The White Swan – Played by the Edison Symphony Orchestra
Edison Gold Mould wax cylinder 8934
Relesed in March of 1905


Published: November 23, 2008

World’s earliest recorded sounds recovered

The invention of sound recording has always been credited to Edison but inventer Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville beat Edison to it by a few decades; well sort of. Scott de Martinville found a way to record sound onto a lampblack-coated cylinder with his invention the Phonautograph. The intent was to capture a visual representation of sound for study but never to play it back. Reserchers David Giovannoni, Patrick Feaster, Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey have located some of the phonautograms and with the aid of modern technology have sucessfuly recoverd some of the earliest examples of recorded sound.


Edouard-Leon Scott de MartinvilleScott de Martinville’s earliest attempts sound like squeaks but by 1860 he has improved his recording technique as can be heard in this fragment of a female voice singing Au Clair de la Lune, a french folk song. Although it’s very crude sounding it’s a major discovery in audio archeology of what is most likely the ealiest known recording of a human voice! (Recording courtesy First Sounds.)

For more information visit First Sounds.

Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville at Wikipedia



Published: March 30, 2008

Dawn of Sound Podcast #2 – The Christmas Show

Voices of Christmas Past

Santa Claus hides in the phonograph, Cal Stewart falls down the chimney! The Peerless Quartet on an old fashioned sleigh ride, classic Christmas carols and the first ever recording of Jingle Bells! I hope you enjoy this trip back in time to a 1900’s Christmas.

Show Notes:

Hosted by Peter Nagy
Sound recording: Ameene Shishakly
Transfer & restoration: Peter Nagy
The Night Before Christmas
Ernest Hare
Brunswick 5032 (1920)

Sleigh Ride Party/Jingle Bells
Edison Male Quartette
Edison Cylinder 2218 (1898)

On A Good Old Time Sleigh Ride
Peerless Quartet
Victor 17482 (1913)

On A Christmas Morning
Prince’s Orchestra
Columbia A1078 (1811)

Hark The Herald Angels Sing
Henry Burr (Harry McClaskey)
Columbia A264 (1907)

Come and Spend Christmas With Me
Byron G. Harlan
Columbia a761 (1909)

Santa Claus Hides in the Phonograph
Santa Claus Himself! (Ernest Hare)
Brunswick 2333 (1922)

Uncle Josh Plays Santa Claus
Cal Stewart
Columbia 3738 (1907)

The Star of Bethlehem
Harry MacDonough
Victor 35055 (1909)

Noel (Holy NIght)
Venetian Trio
HMV 17842 (1916)

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
Trinity Choir
Victor 35594 (1916)

Nutcraker Ballet: Chinese Dance / Dance of the Mirilitons
Victor Herbert’s Orchestra
Victor 45053 (1913)


Published: December 23, 2007

Dawn of Sound Netcast Episode 1

Billy Murray fixes up his automobile, Esther Walker belts it out slow and easy, Salt & Pepper has them crazy blues and who is Zina Brozia?

Join Adrian Shuman and I as we take a trip back to the days of Cylinders & 78s in our very first netcast! To listen click on the play button. To download the netcast right click on the download button and select “save link as” or “save target as”.

Dawn of Sound Episode 1

Show notes
Recorded March 18th, 2007
With Peter Nagy & Adrian Shuman
Studio Producer Ameene Shishakly
Audio Transfer & Restoration: Peter Nagy

He’d have to get under, get out and get under to fix up his automobile.
Billy Murray
Victor 17491 Released 1913

Slow and Easy
Esther Walker
Victor 18680
May 14, 1929

O Promise Me
Harry Macdonough
Victor 1212
Released 1902

I’m Tying the Leaves so they Won’t Fall down
Bryon G. Harlan
Victor 16122
Released 1907

Crazy Blues
Salt & Pepper
Cameo 583
Recorded July 14th, 1924

Jewel Song – Faust
Zina Brozia
Columbia A1242
Released 1912

By the light of the Silvery Moon (Take 2)
Ada Jones & Male Quartette
Edison Blue Amberol Cylinder Record 1512

Life Will Be a Bed of Roses
Hollywood Dance Orchestra
Banner 1837
Recorded August 16, 1926


Published: March 20, 2007

Adrian’s CD reviews

Greetings and hello! It’s really wonderful working with Peter Nagy and making this contribution to ‘Dawn of Sound’. This is an opportunity to share my world of vintage audio on CD with like minds or should I say like ears!! In my mind an old recording, a vintage recording, is a portal. It’s a doorway to an experience that I can never have myself. It goes without saying that I’m grateful to audio restorers and conservators who take the time, have the initiative and understand the technologies to make this valuable and timeless material available today.

Let’s begin with a new round of releases of music on vintage recording on compact disc:

Archeophone Records
Arch 5008 (2004)
Buy from
This is a collection of mainly Columbia, Victor and Emerson acoustic recordings issued originally between 1911 and 1920. Typical of the work that ‘Archeophone Records’ compiles, there are some added items that were never issued but available here for the first time. To appreciate this disc you have to love the saxophone. The appeal of this colleciton of sax players comes initially from the novelty factor….no one else had dared to present five saxophones and later six in the same company….ever! Through frequent appearances and clever musical adaptions and compositions the brothers became a hit. The music making is clever, sophistocated and today all we can do is marvel at the instrumental acrobatics. The successful restorations should endeavour to convey their unique sense artistry and the astonishing amount of fun listening to their music gave (and gives today) listeners. 24 tracks of recordings from 1911 until 1920 and the ‘cream’ is some material never before available including what researchers estimate to be the soundtrack from an early talkie….a Vitaphone movie featuring the Browns in performance….I wonder if anyone has found the Vitaphone images? Restoration quality is directly tied to the quality of the original pressings available and these vary from moderate to approaching excellent. In addition to stellar restorations the amount and quality of accompanying research is excellent. A quality production.

Archeophone Records

Arthur Pryor and His Band
Arc0h 5008

2006 This is a window into a different time period. Communities all over North America sported locally organized bands. These were bands of mainly brass and woodwind instruments. The best of these, in fact one of the legendary bands of all time, was directed by one of the truly great instrumentalists of all time, a musician by the name of Arthur Pryor. Pryor’s speciality was the trombone, cornet and trumpet. Legend tells us that he could make audiences weep……..his playing was so moving. Arthur Pryor was a star! He dazzled listeners with his own stellar playing. and was a master bandleader as well. Here is a collection of vintage recordings from 1903 to 1911 that feature both Pryor’s direction of “His Band” and his performing. Remember….many of these recordings are now more than 100 years old. This source material has stood up well….Archeophone must have access to near pristine copies of these discs. Restorations are astonishing, the booklet supplied affords a look into a world that has now gone and I can only hope that Archeophone issues more of this material. Bravo!!

Naxos Historical
Symphony Orchestras

Naxos Historical 8.111048
2006 Two composers leading orchestras recording their own works. Gustav Holst’s quasi-ballet score, “The Planets” directed by him and Symphony No. 4 written by Ralph Vaughan Williams and conducted by him as well. First to the Holst. This was the second and last time Holst would record ‘The Planets’. There were a set of acoustic Columbia recordings made in 1923. When the electrical era dawned Columbia hurriedly converted to the new system and Holst was hustled into the recording studio to record anew this cycle of symphonic movements. The 1923 recordings are available on a ‘Pearl’ CD (GEMM CD 9417). In the three years from 1923 until 1926 (when these recordings were originally made) a lot may have changed in Holst mind. Debate for yourself which is more successful at capturing the essence of this music. This Naxos reissue of these electrical recordings is excellent. The success of these reissues in very large measure goes to the restoration skills of Mark Obert-Thorn. I get tingles every time I see this man’s name on a CD restoration. Same with the Vaughn Williams from 1937. Amazingly quiet surfaces to the point where you can easily forget that you’re listening to a set of 78’s from pre-World War 2.

Take Two Records

Various performers
Take Two TT 511 CD This is an impressive package! 40 tracks contained over 2 CD’s. Recordings from 1926 to 1940. Theatre organists and the instruments they played upon from the United States and Britain….it probably doesn’t get much better than this. Theatre organs are heaven sent! While this collection comes pretty close to the majesty of hearing one live, a theatre organ in the flesh is an awesome spectacle to behold. Get ready for some impressive music making. The forty tracks feature the kind of repertoire for which these musicians became famous. In practically all cases the organists themselves have supplied the clever arrangements that abound on these CD’s. The quality of the transfers depends completely on the quality of the supplied recordings. For the most part these are good to excellent. This set will not disappoint. Highly recommended.

Naxos Historical
CHOPIN/SCHUMANN: Piano Concertos
Alfred Cortot -piano Symphony Orchestras conducted by
Landon Ronald/John Barbirolli

Naxos Historical 8.110612

Buy from

I purchased this CD for the piano concerto by Robet Schumann. The Swiss-born/French pianist, Alfred Cortot must have loved this concerto. This is the second of three recordings he made of this music. The first was an acoustic recording made in 1923, this recording herein dates from 1934 and there is a recording from 1927. In each case British conductor, Landon Ronald directed the orchestras that Cortot performed with. The acoustic recording remains unavailable. The 1927 effect has been issued on an Andromeda CD and now this Naxos effort. I’ve heard Cortot’s 1927 recording….his recorded performance on CD is marred by ineffective and careless transfers (we’ll revisit this in the future!). This just leaves this Naxos Historical issue which is superb. Behind this effort is the near legendary Mark Obert-Thorn and yes I’ve had the accompaning tingles again. Cortot’s playing leaves some folks cold. I venture to say that some people say that Cortot is careless even clumsy but his playing absolutely fascinates me. Anyone loving the concerto by Robert Schumann will not be disappointed with Cortot’s approach.

These CD’s reviewed by Adrian Shuman. January 2007.


Published: January 13, 2007

Mocking Bird Medley – Joe Belmont (circa 1900)

Welcome to the new edition of Dawn of Sound. It’s been a while since I?ve updated the site, mostly due to space/cost issues with maintaining a sound archive. My original plan for Dawn of Sound was to archive all my sound files on my webhost’s server but it was just too expensive to host all the files. Space was another issue, forcing me to compress the files with low bit rates so I could offer more recordings; because of the compression, the quality suffered. But then, comes to the rescue. I?ve started using the service because not only do they offer free server space to host media files but because they allow high bit rate archival quality files.

I hope you enjoy the site and come back often to listen to new old tunes.

And now for the first sound post of the year?..

Whistling tunes were popular in the late 1890 early 1900s and among the recording artists that specialized in Bird imitation records Joe Belmont was probably the most popular. His specialty number “Mocking Bird” was his most famous recording and various versions were recorded for the almost 47 record companies he had recorded for. The version offered here is from a brown wax Columbia Cylinder. It sounds a bit rough but not bad for a recording made over 100 years ago!

Joe Belmont – Mocking Bird Medley from Columbia 725, Brown Wax Cylinder, Recorded Circa 1900.


Published: January 1, 2007