First Classical Music Recording

The 1888 Crystal Palace Recordings as depicted by the London Illustrated News

The 1888 Crystal Palace Recordings as depicted by the London Illustrated News

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.”

 

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