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BSO Player, Earliest Known Recording

Posted by Geoff Edgers  November 24, 2006 07:58 AM
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Today, WGBH's Brian Bell debuts the earliest known recordings of a Boston Symphony Orchestra member, four sides by cellist Alexander Heindl most likely recorded on October 9, 1902.

You'll remember that back in October, Bell played the 1906 recording by the BSO Trombone Quartet, which led to the Heindl discovery.

Tune into WGBH starting at 1 p.m.

Here's more from Bell:

"The day after the BSO Trombone Quartet from 1906 aired on October 22nd, 2006, WGBH received an email from a listener, maintaining, indeed, the BSO trombone quartet masy be the earliest ensemble recording of members of the BSO, but that there are discs of BSO members that go back even earlier than that, and he had them!

Sure enough, Thomas Vendetti was right on the mark, as he uncovered for therest of us a whole 'nother chapter of BSO recording history. We'll see if this is the first!

His prize records are 4 sides by an Alexander Heindl, a 'cellist with the Boston Symphony. Fagan and Moran's discography of the 1900-1903 "pre-matrix" Victor recordings list these sides as having been recorded on October 9th, 1902. Two of the sides have an announcement at the beginning (common in the early days of cylinders where a "label" was limited), "by Alexander Heindl, 'Cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra", a thrilling utterence when heard 105 years later....

victrola.jpg

October 9th, 1902 is a defensible date. But one, and possibly two of them may have been done even earlier than that. Indeed, Alexader Heindl shows up enough in the early documentation of founder Eldridge Johnson's Victor Talking Machine that he might be considered something of guinea pig, as 'cellos were very difficult to record. His first session is listed as July 26th, 1900, one of Johnson's earliest!

All of them are 10 inch single side records, on the "Monarch" label (at that time the Victors were 7 inches).

This story is further complicated by the fact that Alexander Heindl, who was a member of the ensemble when it was first formed in 1881, had a son, named Alexander Heindl, who ALSO played in the BSO from 1900 to 1907. In fact, the Heindls rivaled the Fiedlers in making the BSO a family affair. (We have Heindls in the viola and flute sections....)

It uncovers yet another BSO father/son combination to add to the Knudsens (Ronald & Sato), the Voisins (Roger & Rene) the Fiedlers (Arthur and Emanuel) and the Valkeniers (Willem and his son who played for just a single season whose name escapes me....).

At this point in time, we're not sure WHICH Alexander Heindl it is
(let's ask the 4th player of the BSO Trombone Quartet....), though I'm
leaning towards the elder.

ANYHOW, these records will have their (most certainly) broadcast
premiere this Friday during the Pre-concert (and possibly intermission) of the Boston Symphony broadcast.

We're on the air at 1PM with the concert at 1:30, live from Symphony Hall in Boston. Out of towners can catch the concert on the WGBH HD-2 channel."

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About Exhibitionist Geoff Edgers covers arts news for The Boston Globe..
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