Back in June 2014 I wrote a blog post about our collection of 78 rpm records and the work we were doing to date, inventory and research their artists. In that post I confidently said that we had a final total of 337 records – well that was definitely wrong! A couple of months ago the team cleared out the basement on the north side of the house and found over 200 more hiding in cabinets down there. Quite apart from having a small cry at the sheer quantity and the fact that they had been unearthed in the run up to the Christmas event, it turned out we have some really important recordings. This then called to me to update the blog once I’d got my head round what we had and what we had found out.
So what exactly have we found amongst the vast quantities of Victor Silvester and Joe Loss? Most of the ones found have been classical recordings of the greats by leading artists of the time such as Sir Thomas Beecham. The pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (spelt Ignace on the records) is one interesting character we have multiple recordings of. Alongside being a world famous pianist, he also was an important politician in his native Poland. He became the first Prime Minister of a free Polish state in 1919 after the First World War and held the office of the head of the National Council of Poland, a Polish parliament in exile in London during the Second World War. Well they do always say if you want something doing, ask a bust person!
One of my other favourite ‘discoveries’ is a recording of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ by George Gershwin with the composer at the piano alongside the Paul Whiteman Orchestra who commissioned the work in 1924. It was such a thrill to be able to hear the energy of how it sounded in its original form. If you want to experience it for yourself there are several versions on the internet of this recording made just a couple of months after its premier in New York.
It’s not all music though. We have the King’s Christmas messages from 1935 and 1937 as well as some brilliant comedy recordings – does anyone remember the poem ‘The Lion and Albert’ famously performed by Stanley Holloway? Well it turns out we have that too! And the most numerous artists? Well as you might have guessed there’s an awful lot of Victor Silvester and Joe Loss, but we also have sizable collections of Carroll Gibbons, Ambrose, Jack Hylton and Billy Thorburn which really reflects their popularity in the time frame we have here at Polesden.
So now the total stands at 580 which is 243 more than previously thought. The only thing to do now is get them loaded onto our collections system.
I could be here some time…