16 March 2009
New Classical Music section!
Learn from the interpretations of the great performers of the past and explore how performance styles evolved through the early twentieth century with the new Classical Music section. You can now explore 1,200 historical performances of works by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms dating from 1915 to 1958. A further collection of Chopin piano works is due to be launched shortly.
The vast majority of these recordings are now out of print, making this a vital resource for understanding Western classical music heritage. Today orchestras are made up of personnel from all over the world, but in the first half of the twentieth century they were made up of local musicians and certain orchestras and associated conductors had their own recognisable sound and identity. The broad scope of recordings in the Classical Music section allows listeners to compare performance styles from the USA to Denmark to Russia.
The collection also highlights how musical tastes have changed over the years. With 2009 marking Haydn’s 200th anniversary, the massive output this composer generated is being celebrated with countless performances on radio and in concert halls. But Haydn recordings held in the Sound Archive show that until around 55 years ago, the majority of his works were unknown or neglected. Less than 30% of recordings available on Archival Sound Recordings were recorded before 1950. The sudden upsurge in Haydn’s popularity was thanks to American conductor Jonathan Sternberg, the Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon, and a body of very hungry musicians in post-war Vienna.
Sternberg, who came to Vienna in 1947 as conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, worked with Landon, scouring the libraries, monasteries and churches for ‘lost’ Haydn manuscripts. Together they established the Haydn Society, for which Sternberg made a series of pioneering Haydn recordings. Most of Haydn’s works, beyond a handful of late symphonies, would at that time have been considered ‘obscure’. The Haydn Society ensured that as many of his works were recorded, paving the way for subsequent complete recorded editions.
Ginevra House, ASR2 Engagement Officer