Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol. 5, No. 10 (1931-07)

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286 The Phonograph Monthly Review Correspondence Editor’s Note: The editorial in the last issue brought forth a large number of letters, all re- vealing a very lively interest in the present state of the phonograph and recorded music, and a very genuine desire to improve that state. It is impossible to print more than a few examples of these letters, and it is perhaps unfortunate that the writers oftentimes reveal considerable preju- dice. It should be distinctly understood that pub- lication of these views does not mean that they are endorsed by the magazine. They are printed, however, because we believe that they are written in all sincerity and that they reveal a state of mind that prevails very largely today among record buyers. Expressions of other points of view will be welcomed. Suggestions from Canada Editor, Phonograph Monthly Review: Undoubtedly there is something decidedly wrong in the gramophone business these days. How are we to account for the fact that in England H. M. V. and Columbia last year were able to declare a dividend of 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, and yet those self same companies in America today would have us believe that they cannot afford to advertise in their own and only magazine in America? To my mind, the psychology of the busi- ness is wrong. We have had two years now of bad business, and yet I am willing to bet that the phono- graph industry has been relatively little hit. The introduction of the talkies must have opened up a vast field for profit, and there can be no doubt of their popularity with the public. For many con- cerns, over-advertising has been one of the causes of their present position. I do not think that anyone would claim that the gramophone companies have over-advertised. The trouble is, perhaps, that they see other people cutting their advertising along with other expenses, and they feel that they ought to do the same. So far as I can recall, I have never seen an advertisement, which met a wide public, drew attention to the issue of album sets and celebrity series. No wonder that the large majority of people do not know of their existence. In the companies’ opinion these are for the select few and do not need advertising. What they do not realize is that by the judicious use of advertising, these “select few” could be increased to a considerable body. The great increase in the sale of good recorded music is not, as I see it, so much due to an uplifting of the musical taste (although that of course is a sizable factor) as to the increase of realization of the fact that good music has been recorded by good artists. There is, I think, quite a need for some form of rationalization in the industry, and the present Co- lumbia-H. M. Y. amalgamation is a step in the right direction. There is nothing to be feared from such a monopoly. The benefits that should accrue from it are numerous, one of the most important being the elimination of stupid competition and duplication. Another would be an improvement in distributive machinery, which is not at present the height of suc- cess. Again valuable time and money would be saved in the perfection of new processes and the like, on account of the pooling of such huge resources. Un- fortunately, amalgamation by itself is no guarantee that the silly duplication will not continue. That will depend on the policy adopted. Much has been said about the duplication of major works, and in many cases there is a lot to be said for it. The public seems to be able to stand any number of Unfinished Symphonies and Fifth Symphonies (witness Comp- ton Mackenzie’s editorial in the Gramophone for January, 1931). But why this should be carried to other and lesser known works is beyond me. Take the case at present of Strauss’ Bourgeois Gentil- homme. Within a few months we have had three sets with little to choose between them. Would it not have been better if one or two of these had been “given the miss” for the time being? Imagine what the situation would have been if we had had the Sibelius First issued by Brunswick, Columbia and Victor! The issue of more versions is not likely to increase the number of persons who would buy it by any considerable margin. A point in favour of the duplication of recordings is, of course, that it often leads to better versions. But once the companies realize that it pays to get the right artist to record the work then better versions are inevitable without the necessity of duplication as we have seen it in the past few years. Fortunately this realization is coming to the companies, and much more care is generally Being used than formerly. In regard to recordings, I express a hope that the Victor Company has not forgotten its contract with Toscanini. We have not had anything from him, in a long while, and when we consider his greatness, it seems rather unfortunate. With the New York Philharmonic Symphony he achieves the finest of work, yet his list of recordings is scant. There have been considerable suggestions for re- cordings from the readers of the P. M. R., and I should like to add mine, small as it may seem beside such requests as the completion of the Brandenburg Concertos or more Sibelius symphonies. At a con- cert a few months ago by our local orchestra, a piece was played entitled By the Tarn, from a “Suite for Strings and Clarinet,” composed by Goossens. It seemed to me to be exceptionally beautiful, and one that would be worthwhile recording. The rest of the suite I have not heard. In length, it would probably fit one side (at the most two) of a 12-inch disc. In the article “An Interview with Eugene Goossens” in the February, 1930 issue, “Observer” mentioned that Goossens was about to conduct a new work for strings with the Boston Symphony. Could this be the same? In mood, By the Tarn is something like the Swan of Tuonela, but has not the varied color and sonority of the latter, nor yet is it as elaborate. The Swan of Tuonela has been more or less my introduction to the music of Sibelius, and I am glad that it has been so superlatively recorded by