Igor Kipnis ( 27 September 1930 - 23 January 2002 ) was a well-known American harpsichord ist and pianist.
The son of Russia n bass Alexander Kipnis (1891 - 1978). and born in Berlin. he moved to the United States with his family in 1938. He learned the piano with his maternal grandfather, Heniot Levy (1879 - 1946) ; attended the Westport School of Music. and received his B.A. from Harvard University. He studied harpsichord with Fernando Valenti. and made his concert debut in New York in 1959. He was an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa (Harvard, 1977), and in 1993 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Illinois Wesleyan University .
Kipnis lived in Redding, Connecticut. For five years he was President and Artistic Director of the Friends of Music of Fairfield County, the Connecticut chamber music series, in addition to having served thirteen years as co-artistic director of the Connecticut Early Music Festival.
He married Judith Robison on January 6, 1953. They subsequently divorced, in May 1996, but reconciled shortly before her death on March 1, 2001 of the rare "salt and water" retention metabolic condition, Robison Syndrome.
He died in his home in Redding, Connecticut of renal cancer. His last concert was a solo piano recital in October 2001, in San Francisco. He is survived by his son, film, record producer, and Kipnis Studio Standard creator Jeremy R. Kipnis, his wife Carolina R. Kipnis, and beloved miniature schnauzer, Asta.
Following his debut in 1959, harpsichordist, fortepianist. duo-pianist, and clavichordist Kipnis performed in recital and as soloist with orchestras throughout the world, including North, Central, and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Israel. and Australia.
Igor Kipnis performed as harpsichord soloist with the New York Philharmonic. the Chicago. Pittsburgh. St. Louis. Louisville. Dallas. Denver. Baltimore. Milwaukee. Seattle. Vancouver. Honolulu. and National Symphonies, the Minnesota Orchestra. the Capella Cracoviensis. the Boston Pops. the Munich Philharmonic. the New Amsterdam Sinfonietta. the Los Angeles. St. Paul. Cologne, Israel, New Stockholm, McGill, and Polish Chamber Orchestras, the New York Chamber Symphony. the Smithsonian Chamber Players, the Sinfonia of Sydney, and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. His appearances at international festivals included those of Ansbach, the International Bach Academy, and Ludwigsburg in Germany. the Bath Festival in Great Britain. Gulbenkian in Portugal. Lanaudière in Canada. the Israel Festival. the Melbourne International Festival of Organ and Harpsichord, the Madeira Bach Festival. Poland's Music in Old Crakow, and Prague Spring.
Kipnis' enormous harpsichord repertoire encompassed not only the traditional 16th through the 18th Century composers but also includes contemporary music and jazz as well. He is especially noted for his entertaining concert-length presentation, The Light and Lively Harpsichord, which samples the full range of the harpsichord repertoire, from Bach to Brubeck. as well as for his informal mini-concerts whose format he has extensively pioneered at college student centers throughout the United States, and, additionally, for his performances and recordings on related early keyboard instruments, the fortepiano and clavichord. and for directing ensembles from the keyboard. In 1995, he formed a duo with New York pianist, Karen Kushner. internationally performing works for (modern) piano, four hands.
A frequent guest on both television and radio, such as the syndicated program, First Hearing, Kipnis for three seasons hosted his own The Age of Baroque over WQXR in New York and was host on WGBH-Boston’s syndicated program, "The Classical Organ." In 1978, he was the first harpsichordist to perform on the Grammy Awards telecast.
Editions, reviews and articles
Oxford University Press has published numerous of his keyboard editions, including his anthology, A First Harpsichord Book. He was also noted for his record reviews and articles in such periodicals as The International Classical Record Collector, The International Piano Quarterly, Gramophone Early Music, Goldberg, Early Music America, the internet music magazines Music & Vision and Stereo Times, Stereophile, Audio, FI, Schwann/Opus, Stereo Review, The American Record Guide, Clavier, Opus, Chamber Music Magazine, Early Keyboard Studies Newsletter, and The Yale Review. as well as having written for the Washington Post. the New York Post. and the New York Herald Tribune. He was also involved in compiling a Harpsichord Resource Book for Greenwood Press, editing the harpsichord and clavichord volume of a two-volume Encyclopedia of Keyboard Instruments to be published by Garland, writing a harpsichord tutor for Oxford University Press, and, for Amadeus Press, preparing a biography of his father, the late Metropolitan Opera bass, Alexander Kipnis.
He was a prolific recording artist with 81 albums to his credit, of which 55 were solo. Among the honors he received were 6 Grammy Nominations. 3 "Record of the Year" Awards from " Stereo Review ", the 1969 Deutsche Schallplatten Prize. and the 1988 Gold Star award from the Italian periodical, "Musica". "Keyboard ", in that magazine's annual readers' poll, named him "Best Harpsichordist" in 1978, 1979, and 1980 and "Best Classical Keyboardist" in 1982 and 1986.
Among his last record releases were "The Virtuoso Scarlatti ", fifteen sonatas played on five harpsichords after historical prototypes built by Hubbard of Boston and Vivaldi ‘s Four Seasons in which he directed members of the Connecticut Early Music Festival from the keyboard (both on Chesky), Sony CD reissues of "The Spanish Harpsichord", the complete Bach Harpsichord Concertos with Neville Marriner conducting, Bach’s Italian Concerto and "Second English Suite" (together with works for clavichord), "Harpsichord - Greatest Hits", as well as the complete Fantasias of J. S. Bach for harpsichord and clavichord (on Arabesque), "A Treasury of Harpsichord Favorites and Mozart on the 1793 Fortepiano (two anthologies on Music & Arts)", and "Igor Kipnis - The First Solo Harpsichord Recordings" (on VAI).
* [http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/2002/03/harps1.htm Mind My Harpsichord! ]. In Affectionate Memory of Igor Kipnis, by Bill Newman, Music & Vision, March 15. 2002. retrieved October 4. 2006
* [http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/2002/01/talents.htm A Man of Many Talents ]. by Jennifer Paull, January 25. 2002. retrieved October 4. 2006
* [http://www.stereophile.com/news/11259 Stereophile Obituary ]. by Wes Phillips, February 3. 2002. retrieved October 4. 2006
T1 Biography ]. by Joseph Stevenson, allmusic, retrieved October 4. 2006
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010 .
The earliest "talking machine" was patented by Thomas A. Edison in 1878 as a vertical cylinder device. In 1887 Emile *Berliner produced a lateral flat disc mechanism, bringing the disc "gramophone" into competition with the cylinder "phonograph." By 1891 recordings were introduced to public entertainment as coin-in-slot machines, and soon included some Jewish monologues, skits, and songs.
One of the most widespread Jewish subjects on recordings was cantorial music. Gershon *Sirota was the first cantor to record liturgicals commercially. He was widely criticized because recordings were played in cabarets and on the Sabbath. Then Zavel *Kwartin recorded and other cantors followed in a "golden cantorial age." In the 1920s such favorites as Mordecai *Hershman. David *Roitman. and Berele *Chagy were presented on discs and cylinders. Cantor Josef (Yossele) *Rosenblatt put 82 different liturgical selections on 10 labels. Since World War II revival of interest in European-style cantorials has resulted in re-pressings and reissues of old liturgical performances, as well as recordings of modern cantors such as Moshe *Koussevitzsky and Leib *Glantz. and the cantorial records of such prominent concert and opera artists as Jan *Peerce and Richard Tucker. In the U.S. congregations have honored their own cantor with a recording issue of his performances. In the 1960s recordings of the devotional music of ḥasidic groups, such as the Lubavitcher, Modzhitzer, and Gerer, on their own labels or Jewish companies, added to the number of Jewish liturgical recordings.Theatricals
Edison cylinders early captured such voices as the Yiddish artist Madame Regina Prager (1874–1949) and the Jewish entertainer Sophie *Tucker. Among the Jewish performances early in this century on single-side small discs were a folk melody Min ha-Meẓar and a popular ditty Kum Yisrulik, Kum Aheym. Shalom Aleichem read his works for cylinders, and the comic monologuist, Ikey Eisenstein, was a great favorite on discs. Especially in the U.S. dance music recordings sold well, particularly of Jewish wedding freylekhs, shers, kazatskis. and horas. By the end of World War I every recording company had a roster of all types of Jewish performers. With the rise of radio in the 1920s, records dropped in sales. Jewish records especially lost their audiences with the changing tastes of the U.S. Jewish public for "Anglicized" entertainment and with the appearance of Jewish "stars" on the general stage, in radio, and "talking pictures." Some recordings include Yiddish theatrical personalities of the era between the two world wars, such as Joseph Rumshinsky (1881–1956), Aaron Lebedeff (1873–1960), Ludwig Satz (1891–1944), Moishe Oysher (1907–1958), and Menasha Skulnick (1892–1970). The aftermath of the Holocaust in Europe and the establishment of the State of Israel stimulated wider interest for popular performances of Yiddish and Hebrew folk music. Prominent among recorders of this postwar Jewish expression have been the actor-singer Theodore Bikel, the ḥasidic performer Shlomo Carlebach, the Israel entertainer Shoshana Damari, and the Yiddish actress Molly Picon. With the rise of the "youth market" in the 1960s, such phenomena as folk-rock liturgicals and rock-ballads in Hebrew with electronic instrumentation have appeared in the U.S. and Israel.
At the turn of the century, in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Jewish proprietor of Rappaport's "listening shop" encouraged and assisted his supplier of discs to present in 1902 a roster of higher quality selections on a special "red seal" label. The entire industry followed over the next decade with "quality labels" on larger double-side discs, upon which were available the performance of concert artists, many of them Jewish. In the worldwide growth of better quality recordings over the decades to the 1970s, Jewish participation has been outstanding. In 1969 the Service Technique pour l'Education (STE ) of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris published a selective listing of all types of Jewish recordings available on the Continent at the time.Folk Music
Use of cylinder recording for collection of Jewish folk materials was made at the turn of this century by collectors in Russia. Before World War I the Jewish musicologist Abraham Ẓevi *ldelsohn made use of recording apparatus in assembling liturgical materials in Jerusalem for his 10-volume Thesaurus of Hebrew-Oriental Melodies. Such scholars in Israel and America as Edith *Gerson-Kiwi and Johanna *Spector used recording equipment in their work among groups in the field.Jewish Recording Companies
By 1920 there were about 30 different companies each issuing several labels, all of which had some Jewish materials in addition to rosters of Jewish performers. The decade of the 1920s was an era of consolidation into "big business" concerns in the recording industry, as well as much technological expansion. The oldest continually operating record shop into 1971 has been the Metro Music Shop, which was established in 1918 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the Yiddish theatrical area of Second Avenue by Henry Lefko witch (1892–1959), a composer and publisher of Jewish music. A number of specifically Jewish recording companies have been formed since World War II. In 1939 Moses Asch (d. 1986) formed Asch Record Company to supply Jewish recordings for the all-Jewish radio station WEVD in New York. Expanded to Ethnic-Folkways Records in 1947, its scope of Jewish materials was broadened to include recordings of Sephardim, Beta Israel, Yemenites, and other Oriental Jewish groups, much of it based on field collections by researchers, in addition to folk music in Yiddish and Hebrew Zionist songs. Formed after the war, Banner Records has made a specialty of Jewish variety and theatrical presentations by more recent artists. Ḥasidic music has been issued by smaller companies as well as by the larger Jewish companies. Menorah Records features recordings for children, holiday albums, and other educational releases. Since 1947, Tikva Records has manufactured and distributed a wide variety with an active market catalog of about 130 different issues. It has been especially successful in presenting Jewish folk dance records with instructions for the performances of the dances. In 1962 Greater Recording Company was formed to locate and re-issue on long-playing records rare Jewish performances done originally in the early decades of this century on cylinders and discs. Some recent performances of ḥasidic music and cantorials are included in its roster. Benedict Stambler (1903–1967) formed Collectors Record Guild and began in 1955 to re-press for commercial sale many of the old Jewish recordings from his large personal collection. He also produced new ḥasidic recordings. In 1971 the Stambler collection of recorded Jewish music, comprising 4,000 different selections, was donated to the Rogers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, housed in the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center. This collection, recorded on approximately 150 labels and starting with materials from 1902, is available for study on the library premises. Among the leading Israel recording companies were Hed Arẓi, for light Israel entertainers and folk ensembles; Ha-Taklit, with folk music presentations; Israeli Music Foundation, for serious compositions as well as folk dances; and CBS -Israel, which produced light popular, classical, musical and drama, educational material, and "small disc specials" for children. All went over to compact disks in the 1990s.
See also *Music: Archives and Important Collections of Jewish Music .BIBLIOGRAPHY:
R. Gelatt, Fabulous Phonograph: From Edison to Stereo (1966 2 ); S. Rosenblatt, Yossele Rosenblatt (1954); Catalogs of: Folkways, Banner, Tikva, Menorah, Greater Recording, Collectors Record Guild, CBS. Hed Arẓi, Ha-Taklit; Schwann Record and Tape Guide (1971– ); Alliance Israélite Universelle, Service Technique pour l'Education. Catalogs (1961; 1969).
Over the years there has been considerable speculation about the man whose name figured on many a Remington cover, first in an oval emblem and later written in Alex Steinweiss's scrawl, in a simple but clever line: "A Don Gabor Production".
No other record label has been so personalized by its owner and creator as Remington Records by Donald H. Gabor. It gave every buyer the subliminal notion that each and every record bought had been personally handled and approved by producer Don Gabor himself, as if he guaranteed the authenticity of it: the record you have in your hand is special, it is not an imitation, it is original.
The idea of connecting the label directly to its producer could have been a gradual development over several years, or if it was the outcome of a brainstorm, it most likely originated in the creative mind of a marketing genius like Don Gabor as so many other ideas did: shaping a catalog, targeting different groups by creating specific series, by choosing typical label names and additional logos, advertising a return guarantee and much later a saving system with stamps as an incentive to buy more records.
Donald Gabor was born on November 20th, 1912 in Hungary. His mother was Freida Halmos (research suggests that she was related to the Halmos family which had emigrated to the USA in 1924 and had settled in Chicago). He spent his entire youth and his early adulthood in Hungary were he was raised by his mother's sister Regina and her husband Samuel Gabor, until 1938, the year in which he came to the US, just before full scale war broke out in Europe. He had studied at the Budapest Electrical Conservatory to become a radio and mechanical engineer. At age 26 he was one of those lucky few who succeeded in reaching the US to build a new existence. And that is what he did.
Frank Yankovic was one of the most popular Continental artists.
The yellow label is of the Dutch release of the Ensemble "Accordeana". The record is Made in Holland. The label states: Manufactured under license from Continental records Inc. New York NY. USA
It is documented that "beginning in 1938 as a shipping clerk for RCA-Victor at $12 a week, he was head of Victor's foreign records department within two years, producing song discs in 14 languages."
He may have founded Continental Records when he was still employed at RCA's, or just may have made a few recordings then and there. The earliest recordings he made (together with conductor Laszlo Halasz) in 1941-1942 were of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók in the home of Bartók in New York, the maestro playing his own compositions at the piano.
These recordings were originally released on Gabor's own Continental label, on 78 RPM, the format of the day. Gabor and his company is already listed in Billboard's Music Year Book of 1943. It is not sure if Donald received a loan from his former RCA boss and head of the Greek Music Division, Tetos Demetriades to set up his business. (Demetriades made himself independent and produced records with ethnic music.)
The Bartók recordings were later transferred to LP: Continental CLP-101 and were listed in Schwann Long Playing Record Guide of September 1950. By the end of 1952 they were reissued on Remington R-199-94 and later incorporated in the extensive Hungaroton LP edition "Bartok at the Piano".
Other Continental 78 RPM discs of various musicians who had migrated to the US followed. They played classical music, popular music, and there was jazz of the young artists who would play the clubs of New York.
Having been raised and educated in Hungary, Gabor dwelled in two worlds and understood only too well the feelings of the immigrant who, while appreciating the modern lifestyle and the possibilities America offered, still remembered the homeland. Alongside goulash and fruit brandy, there certainly remained a taste for records with folk music played by immigrant musicians. And not only for Hungarians as Gabor ensured himself of a high turnover by issuing recordings aimed at Poles, Slovenians, and Czechs as well, released on the Continental, Czardas and White Eagle 78 RPM labels, and later on LP and 45 Extended Play. In some cases he even bought masters from artists and other labels, including the copyright (as in the case of Frank Yankovic, the Polka King).
That was how he started and that is how he collected the necessary capital for expanding his business in the second half of the nineteen forties. And he most certainly did encounter people who wanted to invest in his fast growing record company. Donald was doing well. In 1948 he had access to a factory in Webster, Massachusetts, that had been more or less abandoned. In that same year he installed machines for pressing records on the plastic compound he had devised. In that same year he invested in a pressing plant in Canada as well.
Donald's mother Freida and her husband could have come to America with Donald in 1938, but they were reluctant to leave Europe, because they were receiving a large pension, they loved their country and they thought that in time life would improve. So they stayed. After World War II broke out the fascist Arrow Cross movement had free play and Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya's government deteriorated the political-humanitarian situation in Hungary more and more, notwithstanding the fact that Horthy tried to save the political situation, but was arrested by the Gestapo, he later testified in Nuremberg.
It was several years after the war that Donald met someone who had been with his mother and father. He told Donald, that when the Germans had invaded Hungary in 1944, and the so called Death Marches were organized, Donald's parents were forced to leave Budapest and literally walk into Germany. They were in one of those prisoner groups that were being marched from one concentration camp to another and they died.
The development by Columbia of the 33 RPM Long Playing record (in the fall of 1947 a 17 minute per side LP was ready), and the official launch in 1948, promised new possibilities, not only for the big record companies, but for newcomers too, and of course for eager entrepreneurs like Donald Gabor.
By 1950 the LP was quickly becoming the accepted medium and as the proliferation of the appropriate playback equipment was increasing, it was time to enter the LP record business on a large scale and as early as possible.
In 1950 Remington Records Inc. was founded, producing both 78 RPM and 33 RPM records. Many Continental recordings were transferred to LP and later re-released on the Remington label. New recordings were made in the USA, but most originated in Vienna, the musical capital of Europe with its abundance of singers, instrumentalists, orchestras and ensembles.
When the 45 RPM format was introduced in 1949 by RCA, recordings on the the new 7 inch discs were issued, as it was announced in Billboard Magazine of July 2, 1949. At the same time in his capacity of engineer Gabor advised other companies on setting up pressing plants. For example in Canada (Empire Records), Sweden (Novotone) and Austria (G.A. Krammer).
Although the black/silver label (which is the third label) mentioned "A Don Gabor Production", the rights of most of the performances recorded in Vienna were the propriety of lawyer/impresario/dramaturg Marcel Prawy . Gabor paid for the rights to issue the performances on Remington, but he also released the material (while often omitting the names of the soloists and of the conductors) on the other labels he created - labels with such remarkable names as Masterseal, Plymouth, Masque, Merit, and Etude. later adding more labels to the list: Palace, Pontiac, Paris, Webster. and Buckingham. Each and every name bore a hidden persuasion to which a specific buyer could connect.
To give his product mass appeal, Gabor priced his Remington records at about one third of the prices asked by the big labels. Under the heading "Low Note", Time (New York) reported on Monday, May 29, 1950 that Remington Records, Inc. announced the production of popular records for 99 ¢, and classical records for $1.49 and $1.99, respectively for 10 and 12" records. Remington President Donald Gabor further announced that R. H. Macy & Co. W. T. Grant Co. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. have already ordered $75,000 worth of the new records.
The low prices were maintained for a very short time only. Already 6 months later prices had gone up to $1.69 and $2.19 respectively, but were still about two fifth of RCA's high priced 10 inch and 12 inch records which sold at $4.67 and $5.72 respectively. And even if in 1954 the prices of Remington discs were raised to $ 1.99 and $ 2.99, prices were significantly lower compared to those of the other labels. Then, all of a sudden, in the course of 1955, prices of Remington records were lowered to $ 1.45 and $ 1.95. But by 1955 the quality of records had improved significantly and the reason was that Remington had to keep up with the competition in order to continue to attract buyers.
The other manufacturers were well aware of the competition and were forced to add a series of cheap records to their catalogs. But that did not shake the foundation under his enterprise. He made use of any event. Also when RCA introduced their cheaper Bluebird Label. Gabor congratulated RCA and used the introduction to point once again at the pioneer role of Remington Records in an advertisement in Billboaed Magazine.
To guarantee low prices, Donald Gabor does not sign up top-price artists, he uses a cheap substitute for pure vinyl, and he employs no network of salesmen and district managers to distribute his records. While the cheap Websterlite - a cheap mix as substitute for vinylite - kept the cost of production low, it also resulted in poorer sound quality. This fact should have deterred many consumers from buying a Remington record or a release on other labels of Gabor's. At the same time one should not forget that most record buyers were playing their records on portable gramophones or simple turntables, all equipped with crystal or ceramic pick ups, connected to a small amplifier or radio which had of course variable tone controls, so bass could be enhanced and treble could be adjusted to minimize hiss.
Only much later the criterion of quality was gaining in significance. But serious music lovers and audiophiles would pay more attention to the quality of the performance and the technical quality of the discs as was clear from many reviews in High Fidelity magazine of those days.
It was Gabor's policy to make all genres of music affordable. And he surely must have turned many people into record collectors, irrespective of the label's name, as Gabor entered the game at the right time and with mainstream repertoire.
In the Schwann catalog of December 1950 there were only three recordings listed of Dvorak's New World Symphony: EugeneOrmandy on Columbia, Leopold Stokowski on Victor and there was the Remington disc with George Singer . a recording made in the beginning of that year and issued on R-199-4.
The same goes for Brahms's First Symphony. There were three recordings listed in the June 1951 Schwann catalog. One of Arthur Rodzinski on Columbia and another again by Leopold Stokowsky on Victor. Number three was the Remington recording of H. Arthur Brown ( R-199-5) conducting the Austrian Symphony Orchestra - also called Niederösterreichisches Sinfonie-Orchester (Symphony Orchestra of Lower Austria), Viennese Symphonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Viennese Symphonic Society, Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstler Orchestra, Linz Symphony Orchestra, and Austrian State Symphony Orchestra, and who knows what more.
That same June 1951 Schwann edition mentions that of Beethoven's Sonata Pathétique there were just three recordings: Arthur Rubinstein (Victor), Rudolf Serkin (Columbia) and Alfred Kitchin (Remington), and Beethoven's Moonlight was available by Horowitz, Serkin and on Remington R-199-10 by Alexander Jenner .
Paganini's Violin Concerto in D had three recordings listed: Zino Francescatti on Columbia, Rugiero Ricci on Vox and Ivry Gitlis on Remington R-199-20 (though it was the one movement as orchestrated by Fritz Kreisler).
Since its release, Edward Kilenyi's recording of Debussy's Preludes Book 1 on R-199-50, was the only LP available for quite some time. Only in July 1952 one of Walter Gieseking 's reference recordings was listed.
When in the course of 1951 Alexander Jenner's Etudes Op. 25 (R-199-28) and in the fall of 1951 Edward Kilenyi's recording of Op. 10 (R-199-57) came out, the only alternative on LP was the set of Alexander Brailowsky on Victor LM-6000.
And there were of course the recordings of Michèle Auclair playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (R-199-20), the recording of Rimsky- Korsakov's Scheherazade conducted by H. Arthur Brown (R-199-11).
Beethoven's Fifth Concerto (Emperor) with pianistFelicitas Karrer on RLP-199-1 was the first Remington release, listed in December 1950. There were only three competitors: Cassadesus (Columbia), Curzon (London), Schioler (mercury) and Serkin (Columbia). Grieg's Piano Concerto (R-199-3) was a December 1950 listing. Karrer's Rachmaninoff Second (R-199-32) was released in the fall of 1951.
The earliest Remington LP label was a variation on the Continental label, in the common style more or less resembling the labels of Columbia, Westminster, etc.
When in the summer of 1951 Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony with Kurt W�ss on R-199-7 was released, the only competition was from Columbia with the Bruno Walter recording (ML 4010).
In the years 1950-1952 the catalog only contained those recordings which Gabor obtained through Marcel Prawy. Prawy never proposed a Beethoven Ninth. orchestral music of Richard Strauss. or a Gustav Mahler Symphony. Strangely enough these gaps in the catalog were not filled in when Laszlo Halasz had become Recording Director and Berlin had become the main recording venue.
However, there apparently was a recording made for Remington of a performance of Mahler's Fourth Symphony with Bruno Walter conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and soprano Irmgard Seefried at the 1950 Salzburg Festival as Robert McColley reported. (There were of course recordings made in Salzburg with Joseph Messner conducting works by Mozart, Handel, Haydn and Rossini.) Although the orchestra did permit to record the work, it was not released by Don Gabor. The most likely reason would be that Bruno Walter was under contract with Columbia Records and the release was not permitted. As the taped performance was among the tapes Don Gabor gave to producer Tom Null, it is said that this recording had been issued in the Remington Series on the Varèse Sarabande label around 1980, although a listing could not be traced by me.
Gabor's records were priceless alternatives. Remington LP's were the cheapest in the catalog, even cheaper than Eli Oberstein's Allegro/Royale records with bootlegged material released under fake names for instrumentalists, conductors and orchestras, and sometimes omitting a movement of a symphony or a number of bars.
A few suspicious collectors may have assumed that the names of the artists on Remington records were often also pseudonyms. They were definitely not! Felicitas Karrer, Kurt Wöss, H. Arthur Brown, George Singer, Walter Schneiderhan and Ivry Gitlis - and the names of numerous other artists printed on the covers and listed in the Schwann were all genuine names of musicians who had studied with important teachers and professors, privately or at the famous conservatories of Paris and Vienna.
Low prices meant a big turnover. No wonder that the big companies tried to boycott Remington right from those early days (when it still had a red label and the records were already sold by the thousand), and even more so when Remington was achieving a higher cosmetic profile through distinguished art work and outstanding design by Alex Steinweiss and the artists he recruited.
The sale of each Remington disc meant less income for the giants who were used to dividing the bulk of the market between them.
There were a few recordings from Vienna which were issued on the more expensive, early Masterseal label, like Fritz Busch 's Memorial Album and the recording of Volkmar Andreae conducting Bruckner's Symphony No. 1. These were presented specifically as "A Marcel Prawy Production", obviously to please Prawy.
There were many names who held particular positions in Donald Gabor's emporium: Emery Rose, W.A. Timm, J.E. Collins, Ted Stock, Thomas Brusk, Edward Smith, Ms. Tawny Nielson, Edward Stein, Bennett H. Korn, Hugh Dallas, Ms. Ida Levine, Theodor Halmos, to mention a few. The significance of their positions and of their continuations may have varied.
But another man, though his name was never mentioned in press releases or on the list of personnel, was instrumental in turning Remington Records into a success. His name was George Curtiss .
George Curtiss was a little younger than Donald Gabor. George was actually from the Kertesz family, but the name was Americanized and changed into Curtiss. George's father, Gyula Kertész (1888-1982), played soccer for the MTK Budapest (from 1906 till 1914) and later Kertesz was a well-known coach / team manager with three different clubs in Hamburg (Germany) in the 1920s, one of them HSV, Hamburger Sport Verein.
Jimmy Hogan, the English soccer coach taught Gyula Kertész and his brothers while Hogan was a prisoner of war (POW) during World War One. It was also Jimmy Hogan who taught Gyula Kertész about daily exercise, diet and healthy living and this served to help him to live well into his 90's. Werner Skrentny and Jens R. Prüß prepared a book on the Hamburg soccer clubs and the Hungarian influence: Mit der Raute im Herzen (With the Diamond in the Heart), published by Die Werkstatt, Göttingen, Germany.
Gyula Kertesz was Don Gabor's uncle. He supervised the Continental enterprise during the war, when his son George had enlisted in the US Army and Donald had joined the US Navy. Donald enlisted on June 8th, 1943; the document states that his civil occupation is a motion picture sound editor and sound recorder. (Note: On Donald H. Gabor's recruitment document, the name was probably written in under cast and later typed. That could be the reason why the official document says: Donald B. Gabor - the 'h' could have been mistaken for a 'b'.)
George Curtiss, son of Gyula Kertesz, was born as George Kertesz on April 19, 1921, in Metz, France. He lived his first 12 years mainly in Germany and later in various European countries (Sweden, Norway, England). He was an only child and like Donald Gabor came to America in 1938. He graduated from A.B. Davis High School, Mount Vernon, NY, and started as 'Assistant to Recording Manager' for the Standard Phono Corporation at 163 W. 23rd St. in NYC, and was employed from September 1938 to December 1942. He also attended City College of New York until he was drafted in 1941.
In 1943, at twenty-two, George Curtiss became a US citizen while he was stationed in Spartensberg, South Carolina. Shortly afterwards he was shipped overseas. He was one of the soldiers of the 102nd Infantry Division of the US Ninth Army who reached the town of Gardelegen on April 15, 1945. The troops were horrified when they discovered the atrocities of the massacring of concentration camp prisoners which had taken place only two days earlier.
George spoke French, German, Hungarian, English and Spanish, all fluently, and - as is reported - without an accent. He also mastered reading and writing these languages. He later learned some Russian and Albanian as well and could converse in Italian. Remarkable, and at the same time unusual, is that he also had a brilliant mathematical mind. He was able to multiply five numbers by five numbers faster than could be calculated when using an electrical calculator. He was a gifted, handsome man, was artistic and had a sarcastic sense of humor. But mostly he was a man of great character, honest and forthright in business.
His passive and active knowledge of so many languages made him a perfect broadcaster (as a side job) for the Voice of America in the nineteen fifties, the early, turbulent years of the cold war.
Relations and family ties are always important in business, especially in small emigrant groups. Gabor asked his cousin George to join Continental Records in 1945. George first became Manager of the Foreign Production Department of Continental Records from 1945 on and than switched to Remington Records, when the classsical catalog was started in 1950, working closely with Don Gabor.
The cooperation lasted until 1962. In that year George Curtiss started his own business, dealing with ethnic labels named Eurotone (featuring international recordings from Europe), Tikva (with the largest catalog of Jewish and Israeli recordings) and Anthology (which was his favorite presenting Oriental and African music with notes and photographs). And he was the importer in the USA of the Unesco sound recordings.
George Curtiss was responsible for the manufacturing of the vinyl, for the production of matrixes and plates, and for the pressings. He constantly tried to improve the quality of the final product, difficult as it was, given the limited budgets and the fact that a special mix of vinyl had to be used. On many an occasion heated discussions took place between Don Gabor, George Curtiss and Gabor's cousin Steve, about the recordings, the quality of the vinyl, and what could be done to make improvements. And George definitely had different views. As he considered that the quality of the final product that left the plant was also his responsibility, he often picked out several pressings and took these home to check the quality. While using a red "china marker" (wax grease pencil) he would pick out imperfections in the pressings and indicated that improvements or corrections should be made.
George Curtiss was also the man who wrote the liner notes for a number of early recordings before a host of professional writers, critics and musicologists was hired to fill the backsides of the covers with notes and biographical details, if available.
George set up a record pressing plant in Puerto Rico for Don Gabor. After the sale of the Webster factory and the pressing plants in Canada and Puerto Rico in 1959 to Thompson Record Corporation, a financial syndicate, Don Gabor reorganized his business and now operated out of resident offices in the Bronx. George Curtiss left the Remington Record Company in 1963, as views on how to continue in the new era of the stereo record were diverging. To make things easy in the beginning, Sam Goody offered George a work space to set up his Eurotone Record Company.
The photograph of George Curtiss conferring was taken around 1960 during a recording session. George Curtiss died in May 2003.
Don Gabor was a hard working man and a demanding entrepreneur. Total personal commitment is the trademark of many men who have a vision and start a business of their own. Gabor's vision was of building a record emporium, producing 'music for millions' and challenging the big companies. Gabor not only gave all his time and energy himself, he also expected total commitment from his workers in the office as well as in the factory.
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