Today in 1888, Thomas Edison’s foreign sales agent, Colonel George Gouraud, made a wax cylinder recording in the Crystal Palace, London, of a 3016-person choir performing Handel’s Israel in Egypt at a distance of more than one hundred yards from the phonograph. It was the first “field” recording outside of a studio, as well as the first known recording of classical music. (Wikipedia has the audio file).
Later that year, the composer Arthur Sullivan, after hearing the phonograph for the first time, sent a recorded speech to Thomas Edison, saying, in part “I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the result of this evening’s experiments: astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever. But all the same I think it is the most wonderful thing that I have ever experienced, and I congratulate you with all my heart on this wonderful discovery.”