Chicago Gramophone Society

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This page presents an account of the Chicago Gramophone Society.

It is part of the site Classical 'Society' Records by Nick Morgan.

Documented from late 1926 until early 1928, the Chicago Gramophone Society was both an organization and a record label.

It was one of several North American groups modelled on the gramophone societies of Great Britain.

Little noticed, and absent from most histories and reference works,[1] the Society appears to have been the first publisher of records financed and sold by subscription in the U.S.A.

It issued just four 78 rpm discs, all but unknown today, yet of considerable musical and historical value. For the Society's discography, see Chicago Gramophone Society discography.

The brainchild of a few ardent enthusiasts, the Chicago Gramophone Society was small and seems not to have survived its founder's disenchantment with his hobby.

For dates of creation and latest update, please see 'Page information' in left sidebar.

Antecedents

Societies for the communal enjoyment, study and comparison of talking machine equipment and records were formed early. These are still poorly documented; a preliminary account is attempted elsewhere on this site. Given the paucity of research in this field, one should beware sweeping statements, but it appears that the first purely amateur talking machine societies were founded in Britain in the first decade of the twentieth century. After a faltering start, the second decade saw solid growth.[2] By the mid-1920s, other English-speaking countries were showing an interest in such societies,[3] although mentions in the US press seem extremely uncommon.[4]

The seed for this international growth was the first British record magazine aimed not at the trade but at consumers. Launched in April 1923, The Gramophone soon had subscribers in the British Empire and North America.[5] The magazine's advocacy of gramophone societies, and detailed coverage of the British scene, inspired the formation of imitators abroad, notably in Japan.[6] The Boston Gramophone Society appears to have been the first in North America, formed in the autumn of 1925;[7] its use of the term 'gramophone' instead of the American 'phonograph' was surely a nod to British models, although the Society had reverted to local usage by the end of 1926.[8] By then, Boston could boast a home-grown magazine, The Phonograph Monthly Review, effectively the Society's organ: its editor and main staff writer were both the Society's secretary at different times.[9] Clearly modelled on The Gramophone, the Review[10] was determined to encourage and support the formation of similar societies across the US.[11] Meanwhile, a society had been formed in Minneapolis in the spring of 1926,[12] and another in Philadelphia in October.[13]

It was into this seemingly receptive environment that the Chicago Gramophone Society emerged in late 1926, after a gestation of a year or so; it was soon followed by a second in the same city (see below). In one respect, though, the Society had no known antecedent or peers in the USA: it was the only such group to publish records, and the first US label to finance its issues by subscription. Previous American publishers of small-circulation recordings of classical repertoire operated either on a fully commercial, retail basis (e.g. Gianni Bettini[14]) or as private, non-commercial (and sometimes unauthorized) documentary recordists (e.g. Lionel Mapleson[15]).

The Society did have an apparent antecedent abroad: the National Gramophonic Society (N.G.S.) of Great Britain. Despite its name, the N.G.S. was not an offshoot of the gramophone society movement, but rather an attempt on the part of an impulsive, entrepreneurial outsider, the novelist and founding editor of The Gramophone, Compton Mackenzie, to circumvent what he perceived as the limitations of the commercial record market. In late 1923, Mackenzie took a step without known precedent in the gramophone business: he began soliciting subscriptions with a view to financing premiere recordings of complete works, to be issued to future members in limited editions.[16] In late 1924, his bold plan came to fruition as the N.G.S. distributed its first discs.[17] As a subsidiary activity of Mackenzie's magazine, the Society was well publicized in its pages, carrying the news of its formation and activities across the English-speaking world. In Chicago, one talking machine journalist took this as evidence of 'A Great Movement', agitated for a US equivalent, and soon founded a phonograph society.[18]

But it would fall to outsiders, again, to transplant Mackenzie's idea onto American soil.

Beginnings

The first known mention of the Society was published in October 1926, in the inaugural issue of The Phonograph Monthly Review. To judge from the report's content and title, 'Chicago Phonograph Society', the name had not yet been finalised. The author, Vories Fisher, who was introduced elsewhere in the magazine,[19] briefly described

'a small group of friends who, because of their interest in music and, because of their devotion to and interest in recorded music have fallen together into a very natural society where they have discussed new records – new machines [sic] in a most informal way. But their greatest activity has been the giving of concerts to each other in a "mock" formal way. Programs have been fashioned after the manner of the large Symphony Orchestras of the country. They have given recitals devoted to a particular artist – they have given concerts devoted to Beethoven, to Wagner, to Debussy and to Moussorgsky. These concerts have not only been a great pleasure in the actual enjoyment they offered but, in connection with the regular concerts of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, have added greatly to the enjoyment and understanding of that organization.'[20]

One of these concerts was the subject of a second report, published a month later, and written by Dorothy B. Fisher, Vories' wife. Chatty and perhaps lightly fictionalised, it radiates a warmth and informality rare in such accounts:

'During the past winter we have been giving concerts on the phonograph that have proved very interesting, not only to ourselves, but also to those whom we had room enough to invite. [...] Whom shall we invite to the concert? Let me see. There is Mr. Green, who is inclined to favor the classics more than the moderns. A Beethoven symphony, perhaps? There is an excellent Odeon recording of the Second. What say? But we must consider how many record [sic] it takes, for we must not make the concert too long. There must be time for encores; sixteen faces [i.e. sides] will be about right. The Beethoven Second in eight faces. That will be fine. But Harry and Bob will be there, too, and they favor the modern, the more unusual. What shall we have to please them? How would it be if we opened the concert with that little record of the Strawinsky Fireworks made by Victor? Good. [...] But then what? Aunt Marion, Uncle Will and Julian will want to hear some Wagner. Why not make the whole second half Wagnerian? We could give the very fine new records from Parsival [sic] made by Columbia, conducted by Bruno Walter and the Fire Music and Siegfried's Journey to the Rhine that Victor has just put out. That should please them, and make the concert just about the right length. [...] Do you think that will do? Good.'

The presence of family members - 'Aunt Marion, Uncle Will' - suggests small, intimate gatherings. The works listed above made up the 'First Program' of the 'Dorothy and Vories Fisher Symphony Concert', appended to the report and dated 22 October.[21] The phrase 'the past winter' implies October 1925; if so, the Chicago group was as old as the Boston Gramophone Society, although not formally constituted until a year later. The venue, alluded to above but not named, was probably 4928 Blackstone Avenue, the Fishers' Chicago home.[22]

Shortly after Mrs. Fisher's report was published, the Chicago musical retailer Lyon & Healy made its city-centre premises available for the first open meeting of the Chicago Gramophone Society proper, held on 9 November 1926 (see below).

The following sections examine in more detail the Society's constitution and activities, including all its documented meetings.

Officers

The first open meeting of the Chicago Gramophone Society, held on 9 November 1926, was presided over by Robert Pollak, acting as temporary chairman. After the main business of the evening, the following officers were elected, reportedly 'to serve for a short period of time and until the society was in good working order and the members better acquainted with each other':

  • President: Vories Fisher
  • Vice-President: W.P. Roche
  • Secretary-Treasurer: L.J. Harris[23]

Vories Fisher

Fisher's duties as President were never publicly defined. He was undoubtedly the Society's prime mover, as well as its co-founder: he addressed all but one of its open meetings, promoted it in The Phonograph Monthly Review, liaised with sister societies, and underwrote its two issues together with Robert Pollak. His contributions to The Phonograph Monthly Review are examined on the biographical page devoted to him; his known and conjectured roles within the Society are discussed on this page.

Walter P. Roche

When elected Vice-President, Roche was head of the talking machine and radio departments of Lyon & Healy. Born in 1891 in Elma, Iowa, Roche had joined the firm as an errand boy in the first decade of the twentieth century, and over two decades rose to the position of director (appointed June 1926). In early 1928, he would be elected vice-president in charge of the retail radio and phonograph departments, and of all wholesale departments except sheet music.[24]

In both Britain and the US, it was common for dealers to support phonograph societies in various ways. Roche does not loom large in reports of the Society's activities, and it would be easy to devalue his contribution by suggesting that he joined not as a private, music-loving citizen but as a retail salesman, intent on cultivating potential customers. The Society's members would certainly have seemed promising prospects, attracted as they were to the kind of music Roche had identified as good business in a profile published in a trade paper a year before the first open meeting:

'The popularity of the better class record is increasing steadily, and the recent new methods adopted for building up in the minds of the millions of listeners-in a memory of the names, personalities and styles of great recording artists, are helping to increase vastly the number of those who buy the best music in record form. We work constantly upon new ideas for the better education of our sales force and I may say that one of our most successful methods is found in putting a premium on the sale of the highest-class records.'[25]

Roche may have played an important part in the Society's short existence, by acting as an intermediary between it and Lyon & Healy's clientele. Another employee, S.B. Curren, was credited with putting the firm's concert hall and gramophones at the Society's disposal,[26] but Roche may also have had a hand in giving it this highly visible and reputable public forum.

His later career has not been investigated in detail. By 1942 he was working as an air conditioning salesman, and did so until he retired.[27] Roche died in the Chicago satellite of Hines, Illinois on 11 July 1955.[28]

L.J. Harris

For the present, Harris can be identified only tentatively (he is presumed to have been male, pending evidence to the contrary). He signed all but one reports of Chicago Gramophone Society meetings published in The Phonograph Monthly Review; they reveal nothing about the author.

Two candidates have been identified.

Of the two, the more likely is Leon Julian Harris (1901-93), always known as L. Julian or Julian Harris. Born in Nebraska, Harris studied law at the University of Chicago from 1920 to 1924, overlapping with the slightly younger Robert Pollak;[29] both were members of the Pi Lambda Phi student fraternity.[30] In addition, Harris appears to have been a member of the University Glee Club.[31] In May 1925, one Julian Harris acted alongside Pollak in a medieval French farce put on at Chicago's Arts Club.[32] By 1926 Harris was employed by a prestigious Chicago law firm as as an attorney;[33] two years later, he apparently had his own practice in Chicago's business district,[34] and thereafter he is attested in census returns and press reports as a general and corporate lawyer, ending his life as a parter in another prestigious firm, D'Ancona and Pflaum.[35] Intriguingly, a 'Julian' is mentioned in Dorothy Fisher's account of a 1926 gramophone recital, quoted above,[36] although no conclusive evidence has been found to confirm that he was a friend of the Fishers. More significantly, perhaps, L. Julian Harris was also mentioned in much later press reports as a supporter of classical music in and around Chicago. In 1950, he was apparently Co-Chairman of the Ernest Bloch Festival Association, which was responsible for organizing a 6-day festival in Chicago in honour of the Swiss-born composer's seventy-fifth birthday.[37] Later, Harris was a trustee of and fund-raiser for the Ravinia Festival, and as patron of the Chicago Symphony he accompanied the Orchestra on its first foreign tour, as well as on subsequent tours.[38]

The less likely and less well documented candidate is L.J. Harris M.D., regularly listed as a physician in Chicago business directories,[39] member of a medical fraternity at the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery (now Valparaiso University),[40] and President of a local lodge of a Jewish fraternal order.[41] No evidence has been found that Dr. Harris had any interest in classical music.

As far as is known, these officers remained in post throughout the Society's short existence. Confirmation, correction or any further information will be gratefully received.

Robert Pollak

After chairing the meeting of 9 November 1926, Pollak did not take up a named role within the Society, but he was probably its most important member alongside Fisher. Born in Indiana, Pollak had studied at the University of Chicago, where he and Fisher met, and had settled in the city. Like Fisher, Pollak was a stock and commodity broker, as well as music critic of an adventurous new Chicago bi-monthly magazine. Together, they would underwrite both of the Society's issues, and Pollak seems to have shouldered the lion's share of the work involved in their production. His life before and after this brief episode is summarized here.

Constitution

Commonly, amateur societies draw up more or less formal constitutions, statements of intent and/or rules of membership. They may publicize them at meetings, in circulars, in the press or elsewhere. Some charge a membership fee, to cover administration costs and other expenses.[42]

At the Chicago Gramophone Society's inaugural meeting in November 1926, Vories Fisher outlined the Society's purpose and plans (see below), but no formal statement of intent was published in the report of the meeting or subsequently. At the close of business, the Society elected provisional officers (see above), whose names were published a month a later.[43] At the second open meeting, the Society adopted a set of 'by-laws'[44] - presumably the terms and conditions of membership, and possibly a constitution. These too were never published; they may have been circulated privately, although no circulars were mentioned in reports. Thus, it is not known if the Society levied membership dues, which were likewise not mentioned in reports.

Membership

Reports of the Society's activities gave no figures for the size of the membership, or for attendance at meetings. Both were almost certainly small. The fact that its first issue of records, pressed in an edition of 200 sets, was fully subscribed,[45] is no indication of the size of the membership, as the Society did not restrict subscriptions (see below). The make-up of the membership was never characterized or discussed, and no members were named other than the Fishers, Pollak, Roche and Harris. No membership roll or list has been located. (Any information about members not named on this page will be gratefully received.)

Men almost certainly made up the majority of the membership, as in most such societies, but it included at least one woman, possibly more. Mrs. Dorothy B. Fisher was a prominent founder-member, and her account of an informal, pre-formation meeting mentioned another female attendee - fictitious, perhaps, but suggesting that the presence of women was not unheard of.[46] On the other hand, all three of the Society's provisional officers were men, as was the norm at that time.[47]

The social make-up of the Society's membership must also be guessed at. In Britain, members of gramophone societies, again predominantly male, ranged from less affluent city dwellers to professionals and the decidedly affluent; the two constituencies tended to display somewhat different interests and tastes.[48] The N.G.S. was atypical, in that the high cost of subscription to its issues was affordable only by the affluent or the very determined; among its known members were several high-status and even aristocratic individuals.[49] In the USA, the earliest documented phonograph societies also seem to have had mainly middle-class members; at meetings, they auditioned recordings mainly of classical music. Known members were drawn from the professions, business and finance, academia, and the worlds of music and the arts.

The scant evidence about the Chicago Gramophone Society's members tallies with this picture. At this time, Mrs. Fisher worked in advertising. Her husband and Robert Pollak, co-sponsors of the Society's issues, were both stock brokers. If correctly identified above, Julian Harris was a lawyer. Walter P. Roche exemplifies a different type of member: as an employee of Lyon & Healy, he was cultivating potential buyers of his company's stock of 'the highest-class records', as he termed them in his 1925 profile, quoted above.

Recruitment

The Society was under no obvious pressure to grow, unlike the National Gramophonic Society, which based its recording programme on a projected membership of 500, a target it never attained at any one time.[50] Yet Vories Fisher's very first published words about the group lamented its 'difficulties in gaining [...] publicity', and presumably in attracting more members.[51] Some weeks later, members attending its fourth open meeting debated the question of recruitment, but by now this was apparently less of a priority, and the Society opted for 'personal solicitation'.[52] It seems unlikely this had much effect on the size of the membership. It might also seem that, by not restricting its issues to members, the Society passed up a valuable selling point, but there was good reason to do so: subscribers who had no intention of attending meetings would have been an administrative dead weight, while enlarged attendance might have become unmanageable; and the Society might still not have recruited enough members to make its issues break even.

Commercial Partners

The Chicago Gramophone Society did not have its own premises, or any means of producing records or printed material, and relied on commercial partners to provide these.

Lyon & Healy

Once the Society was officially formed, it met in the Concert Hall of Lyon & Healy, Chicago's most prominent musical instrument manufacturer and general music retailer, which occupied a building on the corner of Wabash and Jackson Avenues.[53] The company was sold several times from the 1950s to the 1980s, and its business archive has unfortunately disappeared,[54] leaving details of its relationship with the Society obscure. For instance, it is not known who proposed that Lyon & Healy host the first meeting. On that occasion, an employee, S.B. Curren, offered the Society the use of the firm's Concert Hall and gramophones;[55] all subsequent meetings were held there. As noted above, another employee considered it worth his while to act as one of the Society's officers. This was not unusual: several US phonograph societies had ties to record producers and retailers, although some individuals considered such ties problematic.[56] In Britain, too, producers such as the Gramophone Company dispatched lecturers to address gramophone societies, and dealers lent premises, equipment and records for society meetings. In early 1927, the National Gramophonic Society began holding open meetings in the showroom of a prominent London retailer, which agreed to act as a kind of shop-front, where prospective members could audition N.G.S. discs 'in a special room' and, if satisfied, join the Society and place orders for past and future issues.[57] Did Lyon & Healy also act as a hub for the Chicago Gramophone Society? Whatever the case, its Concert Hall surely lent the Society's meetings some of this sumptuous establishment's prestige.[58]

In addition, the inaugural meeting was attended by representatives of Brunswick, Columbia and Victor, who reportedly 'extended to the society any help which their respective companies might be able to give',[59] although later reports made no further mention these or any other record company employees.

Columbia Personal Record Department

The Society's issues were recorded and pressed by the Columbia Phonograph Company, Inc. The suffix -P appended to the discs' catalogue numbers show that they were products of the Company's 'Personal Record' Department. Thanks to research carried out by Tim Brooks, Columbia's 'Personal Record' rates for 1917-18 are documented.[60] It is not known if, or how much, the rates had changed by 1927, but calculations based on the documented rates yield highly plausible results for the costs of the Society's sessions (see below). The rates relevant to the Chicago Gramophone Society are as follows:

  • To record two 12-inch / 30 cm matrices [with one voice and/or instrument] and press three double-faced records = $150.00
  • To press over 100 and up to 250 12-inch / 30 cm double-faced records = $187.50 for the first 100 + $1.20 each for excess

See below for the Society's pricing of its issues, and for a discussion of their production.

Printers (unknown)

It is not known who manufactured the only known printed item published by the society, a leaflet which accompanied its first issue.[61] No copy has been located.

Meetings

The principal activity of the Chicago Gramophone Society was holding meetings, at which members discussed and voted on Society business, heard talks or lectures by members or guests, and listened to gramophone recitals. All open meetings were held in the Lyon & Healy Concert Hall in the evening; start and end times were not given in reports.

Pre-formation meeting(s)

The embryonic organization held an unknown number of meetings before its first open meeting as the Chicago Gramophone Society. As noted above, early reports by the Fishers made it clear they had been giving 'concerts on the phonograph' at least since 'the past winter', i.e. that of 1925-26, and described the first, dated 22 October [1925?] and probably held at their home.[62]

First open meeting

The Society's inaugural meeting was held on 9 November 1926, and presided over by Robert Pollak. The report in the December 1926 Phonograph Monthly Review was again titled 'Chicago Phonograph Society', this time clearly in error,[63] contradicting the body of the report, as well as a brief notice in the Chicago Sunday Tribune.[64] The Society never publicly explained or justified its unusual name; but its debt to British models was made clear in the meeting's opening address, given by Vories Fisher, and titled

'"The History and Purpose of This and Kindred Societies," in which he set forth in general what the gramophone societies had accomplished in England and what this society intends to accomplish here. Mr. Fisher presented some very interesting ideas on gramophone programs and on a public subscription foreign record library, which will in all probability elicit further discussion at the next meeting of the society.'

Exactly what the Society intended to accomplish was not spelled out in the Review. Significantly, there was no mention of issuing records: by 'gramophone programs' were meant phonograph recitals. Fisher's 'public subscription foreign record library', which very much reflected his own interests as a collector, was never again mentioned in reports of the Society's meetings or in Fisher's known writings. His talk was followed by a gramophone concert, its programme included in the report:

'Prince Igor – Polovetski Dance (Victor)				Borodin
Philadelphia Symphony – Leopold Stokowski, Conductor[65]

Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano – First Movement (Columbia)	Brahms
Toscha Seidel and Arthur Loesser[66]

Negro Spirituals
On ma' Journey (Victor)[67]						Arr. Lawrence Brown
Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen (Victor)[68]				Arr. Lawrence Brown
Paul Robeson

Sonata in B minor – Fourth Movement (Columbia)				Chopin
Percy Grainger[69]

The Valkyrie – Fire Music (Victor)					Wagner
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates[70]

The program was enthusiastically received by all present.'

After the concert, three officers were elected (see above). Then came an 'informal discussion', at the end of which members were invited to attend a lecture on electrical recording at a forthcoming meeting of the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.[71]

The meeting must have been judged a success, not only by the Society, but also by Lyon & Healy, which 'extended an invitation to the society to use the Concert Hall and machines of the company when it so desired.' Three record company employees, also in attendance, likewise 'extended to the society any help which their respective companies might be able to give'.[72] It is not known if they were invited by Lyon & Healy or by the Society, or how many further meetings they attended, if any, although Columbia's W.G. Link was possibly present at the March meeting which his company hosted to commemorate the centenary of Beethoven's death (see below).

Phonograph Art Society

Alongside its report of the Chicago Gramophone Society's inaugural open meeting, The Phonograph Monthly Review printed another, announcing the imminent formation of a second society in the city, the Chicago Phonograph Art Society. Like its sibling, this was the brainchild of a Chicago couple, William and Elizabeth Braid White, and had been in gestation for some time; Mr. Braid White was the journalist who had been agitating for US gramophone societies since 1925.[73] The report included an account of an informal phonograph recital held at the Whites' home, very like the one written up in the Review by Dorothy Fisher, and held on 28 October 1926. The programme, billed in some detail, consisted of works by Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Wagner.[74] The following month, the Review carried a report of the Phonograph Art Society's formal foundation at an administrative meeting on 30 November, when officers were elected and a 'Declaration of Principles' was drawn up and approved. Printed in full, this made clear how keen William Braid White was to see the N.G.S.'s example emulated in the US and elsewhere:

'4. The Society recognizes gratefully the pioneer work done by the National Gramophonic Society of Great Britain in organizing groups of music loving men and women throughout the world into Societies of which the aims are similar to those of the Phonograph Art Society of Chicago; and while desiring to maintain its own individuality intact, wishes to be affiliated with the N.G.S., and to assist in every practical way the valuable and unique work of publishing in record form music otherwise unobtainable in that form.'

The report named two women as present at this meeting, and three as having voted by proxy.[75] Would the city sustain two societies? The Phonograph Art Society and Chicago Gramophone Society did come into contact, as noted below, but the Braid Whites did not join forces with the Fishers. One reason, perhaps, was the determination, expressed above, of the group to 'maintain its own individuality intact'.

Second open meeting

At the start of the Chicago Gramophone Society's second meeting, held on 13 December 1926, 'by-laws of the Society were adopted'; these were not published. The main event of the evening was a substantial talk on Hugo Wolf, given by Robert Pollak and illustrated with both records and live performances at the keyboard by a young local pianist, Marion Roberts, then on the threshold of a promising career. Roberts played three songs, one each by Hugo Wolf, Schubert and Brahms (no titles were given), to support Pollak's argument that Wolf was the best song composer of the three. No singer was named; presumably, the songs were heard in reductions which included the vocal part, either prepared by Roberts beforehand, extemporised by her, or played in existing arrangements. Nor is it known whether she was already under consideration as a recording artist; four months later, she would make her first and only known recording for the Society. The talk ended with an audition of the following Wolf songs on records:

'Zur' [sic] Ruh Zur Ruh' (Victor)			Reinald Werrenrath [(baritone)][76] 
Fussreise (Polydor)					Elizabeth van Endert [(soprano)][77]
Der Freund (Polydor)					Heinrich Schlusnus [(baritone)][78]
Der Musikant (Polydor)					Heinrich Schlusnus[79]
Auf Den Grunen [sic] Balkon (His Master's Voice)	Elena Gerhardt [(mezzo-soprano)][80]
Verschwiegene Liebe (Polydor)				Heinrich Schlusnus[81]
Der Rattenfanger [sic] (Polydor)			Heinrich Schlusnus[82]'

The above list and Pollak's talk were printed in full in The Phonograph Monthly Review. Before the talk, 'it was decided to invite the cooperation of the Chicago Phonograph Art Society'; an open letter of invitation to the new group was included in the Secretary's report.[83] The following day, 14 December, Vories Fisher attended a meeting of the Phonograph Art Society and reiterated the invitation in person.[84]

Third open meeting

The meeting on 18 January 1927 brought news of an important development. Opening the proceedings, Vories Fisher

'told the Society about the private recording of the Caesar [sic] Franck "Prelude, Choral and Fugue" by Miss Marion Roberts which he and Mr. Robert Pollak are underwriting. Mr. Fisher announced that only a few more subscriptions would be accepted, as the edition will be limited, and that the subscription list would then be closed. Upon motion duly made, seconded and carried it was resolved that Messrs. Fisher and Pollak be authorized to have this new recording issued under the label of The Chicago Gramophone Society.'

(The Secretary's report was printed only in the March 1927 number of The Phonograph Monthly Review, and so appeared after the previous number's announcement of the Society's first issue.[85])

The main business of the evening was a talk, given by Fisher, on the life and music of Modest Musorgsky. It was illustrated with recorded excerpts from the opera Boris Godunov and was printed in full in the Review, after the Secretary's report. The text named no performers but gave catalogue numbers, allowing all the discs played by Fisher to be identified:

  • Part 1 / Prologue - 'Скорбит душа' (Coronation scene), Fyodor Chaliapin (bass), chorus, orchestra, Albert Coates H.M.V. DB900 (12-inch / 30 cm)[86]
  • Part 2 / Act I - scene i, 'Еще одно, последнее сказанье' (Pimen's tale), Dmitri Smirnov (tenor), Konstantin Kaidanov (bass), orchestra, Piero Coppola, H.M.V. DB765 (12-inch / 30 cm)[87]
  • Part 2 / Act I - scene ii, 'Как во городе было во Казани' (Varlaam's song), Fyodor Chaliapin (bass), orchestra, Josef Pasternack, Victor 558 (10-inch / 25 cm)[88]
  • Part 3 / Act II - 'Достиг я высшей власти' (Boris's monologue), Fyodor Chaliapin (bass), orchestra, Eugene Goossens [III], Victor 6489 (US issue) (12-inch / 30 cm)[89]
  • [-] / Act IV, scene ii, (Revolution scene), Walter Widdop (tenor), Robert Gwynne (tenor), Edward Halland (bass), B Mills, Frederick Kelsey (baritone), chorus, orchestra, Albert Coates, H.M.V. D1090, D1091 (12-inch / 30 cm)[90]
  • Part 4 / Act IV, scene ii, 'Прощай, мой сын, умираю' (Death of Boris), Fyodor Chaliapin (bass), Francis Lapitino (harp), orchestra, Josef Pasternack, Victor 6455 (12-inch / 30 cm)[91]

Fisher guided his listeners through each excerpt in some detail, dwelling mainly on the action and music, but occasionally passing comment on one of the recorded performances:

'The choral work is really very enthusiastic and Coates' spirited conducting shows a very sympathetic understanding of the work.'[92]

Fourth open meeting

According to the Secretary's very brief report of the meeting held on 21 February 1927, the musical programme consisted of a comparison of 'new piano recordings of the various recording companies, after which a general discussion was had as to the relative merits of each.' No details of the discs played were given. Before that,

'The business meeting was devoted to a discussion of whether or not the Society should endeavor to increase its membership. It was the consensus of opinion that this should be done to a small extent, and it was therefore decided to endeavor to do so by personal solicitation.'[93]

This decision is discussed below, in the section on the Society's Marketing and Publicity.

Fifth open meeting

On 24 March 1927, the Chicago Gramophone Society and Phonograph Art Society held a joint meeting at Lyon & Healy, commemorating the centenary ('centennial' in the USA) of Beethoven's death. The report by the Secretary of the Phonograph Art Society revealed that this was

'at the suggestion of the President, William Braid White. [...] The Phonograph Art Society is greatly indebted to Mr. F.N. Sard, Director of the Beethoven Centennial Committee, for valuable and interesting literature on the subject of the life and works of the great composer.'[94]

It was Frederick Nathan Sard (1889-1958), a music-loving New York publicist, who had had the idea of harnessing the gramophone to the commemoration, to their mutual benefit. He proposed a centennial programme to Columbia in New York, but found that only the British branch in London was prepared to make new recordings, an opportunity it seized eagerly and boldly. The resulting issues - all of Beethoven's symphonies and most of the string quartets, plus some sonatas and one trio, taking up more than 160 discs and costing over £20,000 to record - were heavily promoted in English-speaking markets, with a Beethoven Week, 20 to 26 March 1927, as a focus.[95] The Chicago meeting fell squarely within Beethoven Week, and it is noteworthy that Sard himself was attentive to events as small and local as this; possibly, he shared White's belief in the marketing potential of groups like the Chicago societies. (Sard's innovative and influential initiative was deemed so successful that it was followed the next year by another, again masterminded by Sard, commemorating the death of Schubert in 1828.)

This meeting was effectively a celebration of Columbia's celebration: all but one of the recordings auditioned during the evening were new Columbia centennial issues, as two other reports made clear (in addition to the Chicago Gramophone Society's report in The Phonograph Monthly Review,[96] the meeting was briefly noted in the Music Trade Review[97]). Vories Fisher opened proceedings with an illustrated talk 'on the improvement in Beethoven's orchestral records under the new [i.e. electrical] method of recording'; his illustrations, all from the symphonies, were listed without performers but are easily identified:

Next, the meeting was played a disc, donated by Sard, of a talk on the second movement of the Symphony No.3 in E flat Op.55 ('Eroica'), recorded by the conductor Walter Damrosch just weeks before (this appears to have been the only disc produced for the centennial by the US branch):

Damrosch was a veteran of musical appreciation: following the example of his older brother Frank,[103] he had been giving musical lecture-recitals and concerts (mainly on Wagner) since the mid-1880s,[104] and was an early and firm convert to radio as an ideal medium for musical appreciation and education.[105] On 19 March 1927, four days before the Chicago societies' joint meeting, he had broadcast a lecture-concert on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, live, from the Lyceum Theater in Carnegie Hall, New York, in the first of two radio programmes titled The Beethoven Hour, sponsored by Columbia and transmitted nationwide on NBC's Red Network.[106] Damrosch would soon be engaged by NBC as musical advisor,[107] and in 1928 would start presenting the long-running and influential radio series The RCA Educational Hour (later Music Appreciation Hour; the series ran until 1942).[108]

The evening ended with a talk on Beethoven's string quartets by Robert Pollak, 'bringing out the development of Beethoven's genius in this field.' His illustrations too were all drawn from Columbia's new recordings, made in London by the Léner Quartet (not named in the report), except one; this was not an act of perversity or rebellion on Pollak's part, but a pragmatic choice, necessitated by the fact that Columbia had not yet issued its centennial set of Op.135:[109]

After this, the Society is not known to have held any further meetings. The reasons for the cessation of its activities are examined below.

Publications

The Chicago Gramophone Society is known to have published:

  • Four 12-inch (30 cm) 78 rpm records
  • One printed leaflet (size unknown)

It does not seem to have published a catalogue, prospectus, or any other publicity or marketing material.

But for The Phonograph Monthly Review, almost nothing would be known today about the Society's publications. Fortunately, announcements, reports and reviews in the magazine allow the bare facts to be established. At the Society's third open meeting on 18 January 1927, Vories Fisher presented fellow-members with a proposal to issue, 'under the label of The Chicago Gramophone Society', a recording of the Prelude, Chorale and Fugue by César Franck, performed by Marion Roberts and underwritten by himself and Robert Pollak; the proposal was voted on and approved.[113] The following month the recording was publicly announced as the work's gramophone premiere, to be issued on two 12-inch (30 cm) discs, in a limited edition of 150 sets, of which 60% had already been subscribed at a price of $5 per set.[114] By the time it was distributed in late May or early June, the edition had quietly been enlarged to 200 sets. Each was accompanied by a leaflet, whose author is unknown, as are most of its contents, besides a tribute to Roberts quoted in one review; presumably, the leaflet also discussed the composer and work, and possibly summarized the Society's aims, rules and activities. The same review revealed that the recording had been made by Columbia, and that the edition was fully subscribed at issue;[115] it was confirmed as 'long sold out' by January 1928.[116] The recording has been transferred by the British Library,[117] and in 2016 was republished in a post on its 'Sound and vision' blog.[118] (Full discographical details can be found on the page devoted to the Society's first issue.)

In October 1927, Fisher 'very tentatively' promised readers of The Review a second issue in time for Christmas, but could not reveal its contents, which were 'not [...] yet definite enough'.[119] In November, the magazine relayed another note from him, explaining that 'an over-crowded schedule at the recording studios has necessitated the postponement for a few weeks of the making of these records', again with no hint as to programme or artists;[120] perhaps these were still under negotiation. The issue was announced in full two months later: made up as before of two discs, produced by Columbia and pressed in an edition of 200, it included seven songs, performed by the mezzo-soprano Mina Hager and two pianists. The first record contained Water-Colors, settings by John Alden Carpenter of four Chinese poems in English translations, with the composer at the piano. One side of the second record contained two songs by Hugo Wolf, Auch kleine Dinge and Nimmersatte Liebe, with Blindenklage Op.56 No.2 by Richard Strauss on the other; the pianist was not named in the Review or on the record itself.[121] No leaflet accompanied this issue, which was distributed in late January or February 1928; it is not known when or if it sold out. No transfer of either disc has been made publicly available. (Full discographical details can be found on the page devoted to the Society's second issue.)

These bare facts raise many questions. How and why did the Chicago Gramophone Society become a publisher? Who chose the repertoire and artists for its recordings and how? Who supervised the production of these issues? Both were recorded and pressed by Columbia, as was disclosed at the time in a review of the first issue[122] and in the Society's announcement of the second.[123] This would also have been evident from the discs, whose labels identify the manufacturer. During the 78 rpm era, recording and manufacturing audio discs called for expensive equipment, studio premises (or an outside location) and heavy industrial plant. Small, independent record 'societies' did not own such facilities and had to use those of commercial companies, though their members might be involved in planning, editorial work, marketing and so on. Typically, the production process proceeded through six phases:

  • Pre-production: selection of artists and repertoire; negotiation and contracting; editing of works to be recorded
  • Studio production: technical and artistic supervision of recording session(s)
  • Manufacture, part 1: electro-chemical processing of recorded takes; manufacture of 'tests' (test pressings)
  • Post-production: technical and artistic assessment of tests; rejection or 'passing' for issue; re-booking of session(s), if required; label design and/or copy;
  • Manufacture, part 2: printing of labels, pressing of finished discs
  • Distribution, publicity, marketing

What roles, if any, did members of the Chicago Gramophone Society play in these phases? The sole contemporary comment bearing on this question was made by Vories Fisher in The Phonograph Monthly Review in August 1927, some months after the Society's first two discs had been distributed:

'I must admit they would never have been the success that they are had it not been for my good friend Mr. Pollak who did in reality more work than myself.'[124]

Fisher's self-deprecating reticence is frustrating for modern researchers, if typical of early testimonies. The 'recording room' (or studio) was a place of proprietary equipment and processes wielded by the 'experts' (engineers and managers) and shielded from public view, and, usually, of stress for artists. Press and publicity pieces about recording tended to depict its technical and industrial aspects with a very broad brush; only very few reminiscences by insiders or musicians addressed its artistic and editorial aspects in any detail. Fisher's discretion conceals a complex reality and compels considerable guesswork.

The Phonograph Monthly Review Contest

As the first label in North America to adopt the National Gramophonic Society's subscription model (or a version of it), the Chicago Gramophone Society is easily mistaken for a direct imitator of the N.G.S. But issuing recordings was not among the proposals aired at its first open meeting in November 1926, nor was the N.G.S. held up as a model until several months later. Unlike the N.G.S., the Chicago group started life as a conventional gramophone society, dedicated to communal listening, discussion and enjoyment, with no publicly declared intent to commission or publish records. In fact, procuring new recordings was originally the aim not of the Society but of Fisher himself. He first attempted to do this through The Phonograph Monthly Review. The magazine's launch issue introduced Fisher as Chairman of a Contest Committee, which would oversee two contests:

'The first will give our readers the opportunity of selecting a work to be recorded and the second [...] will be a comparative test of instruments [i.e. phonographs]. The leading recording companies in this country have shown themselves more than willing to co-operate with us. They are ready to record any work for which there is shown a demand. So it only remains for us to indicate our preference by voting for our favorite. Rules and directions will be printed next month.'[125] 

Both contests were probably inspired by those run by The Gramophone, from late 1923, which likewise covered both repertoire and reproducers.[126] The contests in the Review appear to have been Fisher's initiative; there is no sign that they were instigated by the Editor or any other contributor. After this introductory article, nothing more was heard of the 'comparative test of instruments'. The reasons are not known, but can be guessed at: as Fisher probably found out, running contests is time-consuming and demands a level of rigour and methodicalness well beyond those customary or even appropriate in the informal setting of, say, a small gramophone society. In addition, the magazine's advertisers may not have wished their machines to be subjected to tests over which they might not have control.

As promised, in the following number the recording contest was further explained and refined by Fisher, signing his first published contribution as Chairman of the Contest Committee:

'This contest itself is three-fold in nature.
(1) An orchestral work, never before recorded, to be contained on a single double-sided twelve inch record. [...]
(2) A work of any form, previously recorded under the old, mechanical [i.e. acoustical] method [...] This part of the contest, which, if possible, should include the name of the conductor and orchestra, or in the case of a concerto, the soloist, best suited to record it, is not intended to displace a good old recording, but rather to give the American public an adequate recording of a work which has been known only in an unsatisfactory version or one which is difficult to obtain.
(3) A work of any form, offered as a suggestion to the recording companies. Here is the opportunity to make known some favorite work, unknown to the majority perhaps.'

This was a more sophisticated scheme than early contests in The Gramophone: it offered readers a chance to nominate artists (somewhat over-optimistically, it should be said), and it showed careful consideration of commercial realities. Both this and the previous article suggest Fisher was in contact with commercial producers, and was aware of their sometimes fraught relations with his fellow-collectors:

'The demands and suggestions of the few enthusiasts who do write into [sic] the companies' Repertory Managers have usually been so extreme and impractical in nature that the companies are prone to view all suggestions with disfavor. [...] They themselves realize the value of the magazine in giving a voice to the public demand, a demand which they are only too anxious to discover and satisfy. So they have very generously consented to record any work for which it is shown there is a widespread demand among our readers. We must be exceedingly careful [...] We must not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. [...] Later on, contests will be held to select full length symphonies, concertos, chamber-music works, etc. For the present, we are anxious to start in a small and very practical way'[127]

Fisher's next contest article opened in the same vein:

'The average phonograph enthusiast has but a very inadequate idea of the difficulties to be overcome before a work can be recorded. The recording companies naturally must choose works which promise definite success, since the expense of hiring the orchestra and conductor, recording the work, pressing it, and finally, selling it, is so great that the companies cannot afford to make mistakes. [...] The layman must be taught the practical difficulties confronting the companies before he can make suggestions which will be of real effect. It is to be hoped that this department may be of value in educating the enthusiast while at the same time acting as a sort of safety valve for his ideas.'[128] 

Fisher's scheme was detailed and carefully thought out, if possibly over-ambitious, and it came to nothing - at least, under the aegis of The Phonograph Monthly Review. The above article and the next two were devoted almost entirely to lists of desiderata and readers' suggestions.[129] In March 1927, detailed rules were again promised, along with a voting form,[130] but neither materialized. (In February, the Review had launched a competition for a set of records of Beethoven's Symphony No.5, to induce readers to enrol new subscribers to the magazine; this was not overseen by Fisher.[131]) After a summer tour of Europe, Fisher presumably resumed direction of the recording contest, but he wrote instead about a new essay competition launched in his absence.[132] Only in November 1927 did the Review return to the recording contest, in an unsigned article, probably not written by Fisher, which noted ominously,

'Recent releases from the domestic and foreign manufacturers have diminished the list of the most desired recordings and re-recordings by no inconsiderable measure'[133]

Indeed, Fisher's attention was now divided. In January, he had unveiled a recording project to the Chicago Gramophone Society (see above), whose members had agreed to have it issued under the Society's imprint. The work in question was in fact mentioned by Fisher in that month's contest article, but as falling somewhat outside the contest's scope:

'While on the subject of large size works for piano record sets, we might suggest a few more compositions, many of which might not be suitable for issue today, but which will undoubtedly be recorded eventually. Franck's Prelude, Aria, and Finale, and his Prelude, Choral, and Fugue are widely played and admired.'[134]

When the new issue was publicly announced the following month, a new model was invoked by the unnamed author, possibly (but not certainly) Fisher:

'This is, as far as we know, the first attempt to issue privately in this country any records that are made for the express purpose of suiting the taste of the record collector and connoisseur. They are not being put out with the idea of profit behind them at all, but rather as an attempt to start an interest in this country such as there is in England, in private recordings of what is generally considered the better class of music.'[135]

This marked an important shift. Whereas the contest in the Review aimed to canvas the desires of any record-buying reader and bring them to the attention of the commercial industry, the Society's issue was aimed at the 'collector and connoisseur.' In Britain, too, Compton Mackenzie had gone from hoping 'to persuade the recording companies that there is an articulate body of potential buyers of records, clamouring for the best and willing to pay for it',[136] to issuing limited editions for subscribers through his National Gramophonic Society. Having persuaded his fellow-Chicagoans to subscribe to a 'better class of music', Fisher explicitly held up the N.G.S. as an inspiration:

'We are very proud in Chicago of the first set of privately made records that is soon to be issued; we will always look upon The National Gramophone [sic] Society in London as one of the really important movements in modern phonograph activities'[137]

In October 1927, Fisher indicated that the Society was preparing a second issue.[138] The following month, the Phonograph Monthly Review recording contest was officially dropped by the Editor:

 'after counting up the recent releases of major works, it begins to look as if there was hardly anything left to "contest" about any longer!'[139]

In a short time, Fisher had undergone an experience similar to that of the N.G.S., which found the commercial companies encroaching ever more on its territory, issuing complete recordings of chamber works new to disc, and so undermining the uniqueness of its proposition.[140] Possibly, too, Fisher calculated that the companies might renege on their undertaking to support his contest: the first repertoire contest run by The Gramophone had not in fact resulted in any new issues, although Fisher may not have been aware of this.[141]

Besides financing its recordings by subscription, the N.G.S. had taken the equally novel step of putting its proposed programme to the members' vote; but after some years it abandoned this system,[142] even though it had an Advisory Committee to oversee it, and volunteers to tabulate returns.[143] The Contest Committee of the Phonograph Monthly Review probably consisted of no more than Fisher plus one other person, and the correspondence it received must soon have brought home the drawbacks of planning by plebiscite: the administrative burden, the indecision caused by too much choice, the potential disaffection of disappointed voters. When Fisher turned to the Chicago Gramophone Society as a potential publisher, he apparently did not give fellow-members any say in the content of its issues. But this does not mean that he intended to go it alone. He surely understood that producing recordings requires musical expertise and experience in dealing with artists, neither of which he possessed. Luckily, someone was on hand who did have the necessary skills and contacts. Robert Pollak trained as a pianist, and although he did not go on to higher musical studies or a career as a performer, he was pursuing his vocation as a music critic, alongside his day job in Chicago's financial sector. With his training and entrée into professional musical circles, Pollak was well placed to assess artists, approach them and negotiate on behalf of the Society, and perhaps too to carry out editorial work.

Artists and Repertoire

Four artists recorded for the Chicago Gramophone Society:

They performed the music of four composers:

  • John Alden Carpenter
  • César Franck
  • Richard Strauss
  • Hugo Wolf

Neither the Society's reports and announcements, nor reviews of its issues in the press, divulged how or why these artists or their repertoire were selected. But clues can be found in the The Phonograph Monthly Review, in one of Fisher's contest articles, and in its report of one of the Society's gatherings. At its second open meeting, in December 1926, Pollak gave a lengthy talk on Hugo Wolf, hailing him as 'the greatest song writer that ever lived'. The talk was illustrated with recordings (listed above) and live performances. The latter were given by Marion Roberts, who played a song each by Schubert, Brahms and Wolf (apparently without a singer), in support of Pollak's contention that Wolf was the finest song composer of the three. She would certainly have been known to Pollak, having made her name in and around Chicago since 1920, in concert and on air. A few months after the talk, he would describe her sister, the violinist Stella Roberts, as a 'very, very talented' composer;[144] he could well have attended Stella's debut recital in March 1921, at which she played her own Violin Sonata, with Marion at the piano.[145] There can be no doubt that he engaged Marion to play for him at the meeting; less clear is whether he and Fisher were already looking for a pianist and trying Roberts out, or if her playing on that December evening made such an impression that they entrusted the Society's first recording to her. The routine report of the meeting mentioned no such plan;[146] but at the next meeting, a month later, Fisher submitted it to the members, naming Pollak as joint underwriter.[147] As for the work Roberts recorded, Franck's Prelude, Chorale and Fugue was just the kind of repertoire she would have studied at the Ecole normale in Paris. In the January 1927 instalment of his contest column in the Review, Fisher had relayed a long list of piano works nominated by readers, and continued,

'While on the subject of large size works for piano record sets, we might suggest a few more compositions, many of which might not be suitable for issue today, but which will undoubtedly be recorded eventually. Franck's Prelude, Aria, and Finale, and his Prelude, Choral, and Fugue are widely played and admired.'[148]

Fisher probably wrote those words in December 1926; on 13 December, Roberts played for Pollak at the Society's meeting, so it is entirely possible that she was already in discussions with Fisher and Pollak and had suggested these two works, but that at this stage Fisher still had hopes for the contest. The production of this issue is discussed further below.

On the face of it, it is much less clear why the Society's second issue should have been devoted to the art of Mina Hager. Unlike Roberts, she was not born locally. True, she had studied, lived and performed in Chicago since 1914, although she had recently moved to New York.[149] She had certainly caught Robert Pollak's ear, as the protagonist of Pierrot lunaire by Arnold Schoenberg,[150] and as soloist in John Alden Carpenter's Water-Colors. In 1917, she had been selected by the composer to join him in premiering a new version of the latter with orchestra and piano,[151] and they had struck up a firm artistic friendship. Pollak had recently been rather harsh about Carpenter's score for the ballet Skyscrapers;[152] but he classed Hager's late 1926 performances of Water-Colors as one of his 'pleasant memories' of Allied Arts,[153] a short-lived venture in which Carpenter had been closely involved.[154] Hager duly recorded the Water-Colors for the Society, in the original setting, with the composer at the piano (even a small chamber orchestra would have been prohibitively expensive for the Society to record).

Hager's companion disc, meanwhile, clearly reflected the co-sponsors' predilections; her repertoire was so extensive, it is hard to believe they were not consulted. Pollak's talk on Hugo Wolf, given to the Society in December 1926, included illustrations from discs; introducing them, Pollak remarked, 'It is significant that all but one [...] are foreign recordings.'[155] Hager's forthcoming album must have seemed a good opportunity to add to the small stock of home-grown Wolf; is this why she apparently began singing his songs in concert only in October 1927, two months before her sessions for the Society?[156] Fisher, on the other hand, was not fond of Wolf, by his own admission; but when it came to another composer's songs, he was something of a completist:

'I have, let us say, in my collection some twenty or twenty-five Strauss songs, a section in which I am much interested. A new one is issued – one that has never before been made – and no matter what the quality of the record, no matter how well or how poorly it is sung, I am always tempted to buy, for if I do not it will mean that there is a Strauss song that is not among my records. I have now about five Hugo Wolf songs that no one can induce me to play.'[157]

Two years earlier, Fisher had helped compile an early discography of Richard Strauss,[158] and imported foreign discs of Strauss's music had apparently been played at one of the Fishers' private gramophone concerts.[159] Mina Hager, for her part, had performed Strauss's songs since at least 1922,[160] and she would have had no shortage of numbers to offer the Society. It is unlikely that Carpenter would have been asked to play for this second disc. A natural choice would have been Marion Roberts, although she seems never to have performed with Hager. But by then Roberts was dead. The pianist at both sessions for this disc was Lora Orth Kimsey. Like Roberts, Kimsey had had no known contact with Hager; most likely, she was supplied by the Columbia 'Personal Record' department, which perhaps retained her as a versatile accompanist, equally at home in the classics and at evangelical song meetings. Kimsey was not mentioned in the Society's announcement of this issue or in reviews, and her name was left off the labels of the disc, as house accompanists' names often were.

Recording

As stated above, the Chicago Gramophone Society owned no recording or manufacturing facilities. Its recordings were made in New York by Columbia's Personal Record Department. The Columbia recording cards documenting the Society's two issues survive, and are invaluable sources of information about the Society's sessions, including the names of the Columbia 'recording operators' who presided over them:

The resulting discs were also pressed by Columbia, presumably at its plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut. If, as proposed above, Robert Pollak approached and negotiated with the Society's artists, who in turn suggested repertoire, in consultation with him and Vories Fisher, it was Fisher who seemingly had contacts with record companies, so perhaps he contracted the Columbia Personal Record Department.

Before the first session could take place, preparatory editorial work was required: Franck's Prelude, Chorale and Fugue had to be divided into sections, to fit onto however many sides it was determined were needed (four, in this case[162]). Who did this for the Society, and who decided where the side-breaks should be? An obvious candidate is Marion Roberts herself, perhaps with someone to start and stop a timer. Pollak was a trained pianist and could have helped or given advice, as could Roberts's sister Stella; perhaps Fisher was also consulted, as a habitual gramophone user who might have views on satisfactory or irritating side-breaks.

(Another preparatory task was no longer necessary: making cuts. By the later 1920s, these were the exception in classical works. Announcing its first issue, the Society stressed that the Franck had never before been recorded, but did not state that it would be complete;[163] it could safely assume that readers took the latter for granted.)

Once the recording sessions were under way, decisions had to be made about which takes to process and press as 'tests' for audition by the artists and Society. In the 1920s, it was standard practice to aim to complete a session with two usable takes of any side, so that if one was damaged on the way to the factory or during processing at the plant itself, or if it had a defect undetected on the day, the other could be used instead. This does not mean that no more than two takes of any side were recorded; attempts which were clearly unsuccessful (spoiled by e.g. an unacceptable mistake or technical defect) were immediately rejected, and the wax blanks put aside to be shaved and reused. At the Society's sessions, technical faults (such as over-modulation of the recorded signal) could be spotted on the fly by the Columbia operators. What of artistic faults? It seems unlikely the operators would have pronounced on these. Was an external 'producer' (in modern parlance - the term was not then in use), in other words an artistic supervisor, allowed or recommended? If so, only Pollak, of the Society's two co-sponsors, had the musical expertise required; but there is no evidence that he travelled to New York. Roberts was staying in the city with a friend, colleague and former fellow-student from Chicago, the pianist and teacher Grace Welsh (1895-1999);[164] Welsh could have attended the session with Roberts, and acted as a second pair of ears (or helped prepare the side-breaks).[165]

(None of the items in the Society's second issue needed subdividing. On the other hand, three of the four sides contain two songs; presumably, Hager was asked to confirm that, sung at her or Carpenter's preferred tempi, these would not overrun the usual limit of approximately 4½ minutes per side.)

Columbia documented its sessions for the Society on cards which meticulously note all takes and tests - but, tantalisingly, not who took editorial decisions on the Society's behalf. Marion Roberts recorded two takes of each of the four sides of the Franck on 11 April 1927; the next day, all eight matrices were shipped to the Columbia factory for processing. Test pressings were 'received' (presumably, at the Columbia offices in New York) on 16, 20 and 21 April. These were 'reported' (i.e. assessments of their quality were made and logged) on 4 May; finally, on unknown dates, a 'Disposition' (i.e. action) was noted in each case, as 'Rej.' (for 'Rejected') or 'O.K.'. Roberts had sailed for France on 13 April, and during the night of 22-23 April was murdered near Paris. She cannot have auditioned any test pressings; the simplest hypothesis, therefore, is that eight tests were posted to Pollak in Chicago, for him to audition, reject or pass as 'O.K.'. Still, Roberts might have formed her own opinion of each take in the studio, immediately after recording it; and two unusual features of the issued recording may reflect that opinion. The second side was issued from take -2; yet on this side two 'noises off' can be heard, the first very intrusive and seemingly caused by an object in the studio falling over, the second less so.[166] Usually, such audible accidents would cause a take to be rejected. But this side includes the start of the Chorale with its tricky pianissimo crossing of left hand over right. Did Roberts feel take -2 was the better performance of that notorious passage, and request that it be issued, despite the noises? The only side to be issued from take -1 was the third; this side, too, includes hand-crossings and other technical difficulties, and take -1 could, again, have been nominated by Roberts as the better played.[167] Tempting as it is to imagine that the issued recording enshrines the unfortunate artist's wishes, it is equally possible that she left Pollak (perhaps in consultation with Fisher) to choose. Still, in either case the Society made a delicate and brave judgement, as subscribers might well object to the noises off (this happened to the National Gramophonic Society, some of whose issues were beset by technical problems[168]).

Mina Hager's recordings for the Society present a more straightforward case: all the artists were available to audition tests, although it is not known whether they did so. Hager recorded two takes of her four sides on Monday 5 December 1927; the matrices were shipped for processing the same day. Tests were received on Wednesday 7 December and could have been posted immediately to Carpenter in Chicago, and to Hager in New York (it seems unlikely Kimsey was invited to audition them). On Monday 12 December a second session was held, when the Wolf and Strauss songs were re-recorded, two further takes of each side. The simplest hypothesis is that the Carpenter songs had been passed as 'O.K.' by the composer and/or Hager, but that Hager was unhappy with the Wolf and Strauss she recorded on 5 December. The tests were 'reported' only on 28 December, which would have given Hager ample time to audition the takes recorded at the second session, compare them with the earlier takes if necessary, and make her final choices. After this, Pollak, and possibly Fisher, could bestow the Society's seal of approval. One small mystery remains: was the second session arranged before or after the first had taken place? If before, that might suggest either some uncertainty as to whether the artists could set down all the required satisfactory takes in the time allotted, with the second session booked as back-up, or perhaps that the Wolf and Strauss songs were last-minute choices which Hager had not had time to work up to the required standard. If, on the other hand, the second session was booked after the first, that might suggest that editorial decisions were indeed taken in the studio, on the basis of immediate memory of takes, as was argued above may have happened at Marion Roberts's session. (It should be borne in mind that freshly recorded waxes could not be played back in the studio.) Even though tests were received two days after the first session, was there enough time to book a second? Were the tests expedited because there was a feeling the session had not been successful? As ever, these hypotheses float in something of a void of knowledge, not only of the Society's editorial modus operandi, but also of those of custom and standard commercial recording activities.

Label Design

A further mystery is the identity of the designer of the Chicago Gramophone Society's record label. By now, Columbia's standard Personal Record labels were rather old-fashioned in appearance: Personal Record 50018-P, whose catalogue number falls between those of the Society's two issues, has a label of this design, presumably dating from the official launch of the Department in 1915, if not earlier.[169] By contrast, the Society's label has a strikingly modern 'art deco' design, which incorporates a small, 'jazzy' anthropomorphic monogram composed of the Society's initials. It is not signed.

Once again, Robert Pollak was well placed to commission the design. It is reminiscent of the work of at least three artists who occasionally illustrated Pollak's column 'Musical Notes' in The Chicagoan. It should be said that Professor Neil Harris, who has made a thorough study of The Chicagoan and its artists,[170] does not recognize any one hand in the design, characterizing it as 'somewhat conventionalized', and cautions against attributing it to an artist on the magazine's roster.[171] It is also possible that Vories Fisher or Dorothy Fisher commissioned the label; he later became a photographer and may already have had an interest or involvement in graphic and visual design, while she had worked in advertising for some years.

The labels of the Society's first issue were designed to be numbered; copies are not common, but none of those known carries a number in the space provided. Reportedly, they were also to have been signed by Marion Roberts,[172] but there is no obvious space for a signature; perhaps the design was only finalised after the pianist's untimely death in April 1927. The labels of the second issue did not allow for numbering, and no mention was made of artists' signatures.

Artist Fees

No currently known source reveals what type of agreement the Society entered into with its recording artists, or the fees it paid them to record. These were almost certainly one-off payments.

Pricing

In 1927, the Chicago Gramophone Society sold its records at $2.50 each. This was a high price. Typically, the leading US producers, Victor and Columbia, charged $1.50 per disc for 12-inch / 30 cm records of classical repertoire; Victor's premium Red Seal records cost $2 each, as did Brunswick's 12-inch classical issues.[173]

The Society was probably not aiming to be exclusive in charging this high price; rather, it was obliged to do so by the production costs. At Columbia's 1917 prices for Personal Records (see above), to have each of its issues recorded and pressed would have cost the Society $712.50 for runs of 150 (i.e. 300 discs), or $802.50 for runs of 200 (i.e. 400 discs). Initially, the Society announced that the first issue would be pressed in an edition of 150 sets; even without adjusting for inflation over the intervening decade, one can see that this would leave the Society with just $37.50 for additional costs such as Marion Roberts's recording fee (which is not documented). The edition was quietly enlarged to 200, which gave the Society a healthier buffer of $197.50. The second issue was also pressed in an edition of 200; this involved three artists, although only Carpenter and Hager would have been due recording fees, if Lora Orth Kimsey was indeed supplied by Columbia, whose charge for making a Personal Record included 'piano or organ accompanist, if desired'.[174]

Although the Society's exact outlay will probably never be known, these figures broadly corroborate its claim that the records were 'not being put out with the idea of profit behind them at all'.[175]

Subscriptions and Distribution

Subscription to the Society's issues was apparently open to all, whether members or not, and the cost, $2.50 per disc, was the same for members and non-members alike.[176] In this respect, the Society departed considerably from its two known predecessors. In Britain, the National Gramophonic Society initially restricted its issues to members, who were also obliged to take them all and pay for a whole year's worth in advance, a considerable outlay (in early 1927 the N.G.S. relaxed this rule, which appeared to militate against increased membership).[177] In Japan, Dainippon Meikyoku Rekōdo Seisaku Hanpu Kwai did not restrict its issues to members, but charged non-members a hefty premium of 60%.[178] The Chicago Gramophone Society could surely not afford to impose such conditions: it would probably not have covered the costs of producing its issues if they had been available only to members. The Japanese society also levied a non-refundable deposit on each disc subscribed for; not only did the Chicago Gramophone Society forego this security, it did not require payment in advance but only on delivery. These relaxed terms presumably exposed the underwriters, Fisher and Pollak, to some personal risk, although there is no mention of defaults in known sources.

Nominally, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Society was L.J. Harris, but would-be subscribers were directed to apply to Vories Fisher at 208 South LaSalle St. for the first issue,[179] and at 105 West Adams Street for the second[180] - both, presumably, Fisher's business addresses. It seems likely that Fisher managed the subscriptions, and that subscribers were required to collect their copies in person, as no mention was made of postage costs in the Society's reports and announcements - perhaps from a colleague or employee of Fisher's, since he and his wife were in Europe at the time of the first issue.[181]

Marketing and Publicity

In his first article about the Society, Fisher complained that it had

'encountered some difficulties in gaining the publicity that would give it the firm start that it knows is possible in a city of such extended musical taste as Chicago.'[182]

What were these difficulties? Had Fisher tried to place notices or generate coverage in Chicago's press? Papers such as the Chicago Daily Tribune (and Sunday Tribune) gave considerable editorial space to private societies with prominent citizens as members and leaders. Combining charitable work and recreation, their activities often included musical performances by professionals and amateurs. Many were women's clubs, usually covered on variously titled 'women's pages', unlike men's societies such as the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs. Understandably, a very small group such as the Fishers', which catered to a specialist interest and had no well-known members or charitable function, would struggle to attract the attention of the metropolitan press; whether that was also true of the suburban press is not known (few of Chicago's leading early twentieth-century newspapers are readily accessible online, let alone smaller publications).

Just one editorial notice about the Society is known to have appeared in a Chicago newspaper: a brief mention in the Chicago Sunday Tribune of the Society's forthcoming inaugural open meeting.[183] Lyon & Healy, which hosted the Society in its Concert Hall, was a very visible advertiser in the Tribune;[184] perhaps the firm used its influence to place the notice in the paper (and in other Chicago newspapers, not yet consulted). None of the Society's four subsequent meetings are known to have been promoted in this way. Lyon & Healy might also have displayed notices on its premises informing customers of them.[185]

But the general press was surely too blunt a tool for Fisher's purposes. In Britain, the National Gramophonic Society was able to use The Gramophone, published by its parent company, to address an interested, self-selected audience with announcements, reports, reviews and even advertisements. Fisher's article, quoted above, appeared in the first issue of the new Boston-based imitator of The Gramophone, and expressed the hope that

'with the advent of the Phonograph Monthly Review things will become easier and things that at first appeared impossible will be found to be well within the bonds [sic] of reason through the great assistance of this medium.'

Like its model, the Review set itself up as an advocate and forum for phonograph societies all over the country, and it remains by far the richest source of information about the Chicago Gramophone Society. Undoubtedly, there was a close relationship between the two: not only were the Society's doings chronicled in the regular 'Phonograph Society Reports' and occasional editorial mentions, the Review was the only publication to cover both of the Society's issues (see below). Still, if this 'great assistance' was the answer to Fisher's prayers, he was curiously reticent in exploiting it: he did not promote the Society in his writings, but only discussed its recordings - which, admittedly, was the brief of his column 'Recorded Remnants' - as well sharing news and rumours of foreign private recording societies:

'we heard with some surprise and much pleasure about the Japanese private recording society (has anybody in this country heard the records, by the way?); but, now comes news to me so very startling that I am almost afraid to pass it on until more details are at my command. I am told that there is in Berlin a semi-private recording society that goes under the name of the Berlin Philharmonic Recording Society. Their activities are apparently devoted to the recording of the more modern composers. Unfortunately, I have not in my possession a list of their works, but this much I am told: they have made much Ernst Kreneck [sic], they have made the Strawinski "Histoire d'un Soldat" [sic], and (and this one I consider the most important) they have made the Schöenberg "Pierrot Lunnaire" [sic]. You may depend upon it that when more details are at my disposal, they will be communicated to those that may be interested.'[186]

'Let it be whispered now that I think – mind you I say I think – that in the not too distant future the N.G.S. records will be made available in this country.'[187]

(The Berlin Philharmonic Recording Society has not been traced; Fisher may have been relaying a garbled account of Schoenberg's Society for Private Performances of Music, active in Vienna from 1918 to 1921.[188] Schoenberg did contract with Ultraphon, a Berlin-based record company, to record his Verklärte Nacht Op.4 with the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, but not until mid-1929; the project was aborted and the recording was never completed.[189])

Perhaps, in fact, by 'things that at first appeared impossible' Fisher did not mean enlarging the Society's membership, or attendance at its meetings, but was referring to more ambitious schemes, such as a 'public subscription foreign record library' (see above). Only on one occasion are members known to have discussed recruitment, when

'It was the consensus of opinion that this should be done to a small extent, and it was therefore decided to endeavor to do so by personal solicitation.'[190]

The National Gramophonic Society, too, seemed reluctant to advertise both within The Gramophone and elsewhere, and from the start urged members to enrol friends.[191] Unlike the N.G.S., the Chicago Society had no regular recording programme to fund, so this decision had no immediate financial consequences, and probably little effect on the Society's viability, which depended far more on the continued involvement and enthusiasm of Vories Fisher himself (see below), although increased enrolment might have brought in other members willing and able to carry it on without him. Perhaps selling oneself was slightly abhorrent to middle-class sensibilities, too reminiscent of the practices of the commercial industry? Nevertheless, Robert Pollak made creative use of his regular critical column in The Chicagoan, writing a notice of the Society's second issue; making no mention of his involvement in its financing and production, today it would be considered 'advertorial'.[192] (Pollak did not promote the Society's first issue in this way, perhaps because it sold out without his help.)

Finally, a well-worn publicity technique used by all record companies was the practice of sending out complimentary copies of new issues to individuals or publications, in the hope of generating reviews in the general or specialist press. The Chicago Gramophone Society is only known to have sent a copy of its first issue to The Gramophone; presumably, copies of both were also sent to the The Phonograph Monthly Review (see below).

Reception

As mentioned above, The Phonograph Monthly Review was the only consumer publication to report the Society's activities in detail. They were covered very briefly in two US trade periodicals:

The single reference in The Talking Machine World was almost certainly not solicited, but formed part of a wider campaign waged by a member of the magazine's staff: British-born William Braid White (1878-1959) had written several articles promoting the British gramophone society model to the US record trade, and was eager to report local progress on that front. Braid was also the founding President of Chicago's Phonograph Art Society,[193] and a champion of the player-piano; on 24 March 1927, he performed at a concert commemorating the centenary of Beethoven's death, and the following day, the Phonograph Art Society and the Chicago Gramophone Society celebrated the anniversary with a joint meeting in the Lyon & Healy concert hall. Both were reported by The Music Trade Review, the concert at much greater length than the meeting; in this article and in White's, the emphasis was very much on what such events could do for the retail trade.

The Society's issues were barely noticed in the general press. Criticism of classical records was apparently in its infancy in the mid-1920s US; there were few review columns in the general or musical press, and even fewer outlets for such specialised and non-commercial items as the Chicago Gramophone Society's issues. As ever, The Phonograph Monthly Review was the only publication to discuss both in detail:

Like much of the magazine's content, these unsigned reviews were probably written by Robert D. Darrell (1903-88).[194]

So far, only one review has been located elsewhere, in the long-running New York-based weekly The Outlook. As Lawrence J. Abbott (1902-1985) noted, these records' very limited availability posed a problem for publications aimed at consumers, but he admired both the performance and the Society's aims enough to overcome his scruples:

'It would be out of place in this department to include among the reviews mention of a privately issued set of records. But perhaps my readers will forgive me if I should mention it separately as an interesting example of the progress of recorded music in this country. [...] In two respects this recording of the Chicago Gramophone Society's is worthy of mention. It has caught in permanent form a performance which would otherwise have been lost to the world forever. It has also started a precedent. It has shown that a comparatively small group of people, by subscribing in advance, can have music made to order for their phonograph libraries.'[195]

The author (grandson of an influential early editor of The Outlook, and son of his successor[196]) was clearly the kind of person to whom the Society addressed itself, and he probably procured the records by requesting or purchasing them, rather than being sent them 'on spec'.[197]

Outside the US, The Gramophone was made aware of the Society by Vories Fisher, whose summer tour of Europe with his wife included a visit to the magazine's offices; there, they met its London Editor, who was also Secretary of the N.G.S. On his return to the US, Fisher sent The Gramophone a copy of his Society's first issue,[198] probably as a gesture of courtesy and friendship, rather than in the hope of a review, as the discs were effectively unobtainable by British readers. No mention was made of the second issue until several years later;[199] the magazine may not have received a copy.

The only other notice of the Society known to have been published outside the US appeared in a Brazilian newspaper:

  • 'Pingos de cêra...', in 'Discos e machinas falantes', O Paiz [Rio de Janeiro], Anno XLIII, No.15,624, Sunday 31 July 1927, p.14

The uncredited writer had probably not heard the records, but was relaying information garnered from The Phonograph Monthly Review; this practice, common at the time, can be observed in the Australian press of the period, for instance, which regularly passed on snippets gleaned from The Gramophone, The Musical Times and other British publications.[200]

In later years, the Society's issues were mentioned very occasionally, notably in reviews of subsequent recordings of works which it had been the first to issue on disc.[201] But, effectively, it was forgotten. Until contacted during research for this site, even the children of Vories Fisher and Robert Pollak were not aware of their fathers' very brief involvement in record production.

Decline

In April 1927, The Phonograph Monthly Review noted that Mr. and Mrs. Fisher would soon leave on a voyage to Europe.[202] In June, the magazine reported that

'The advent of the summer season finds a few of the Phonograph Societies suspending meetings until September, but for the most part meetings and concerts are continued in a less formal manner in the private homes of different members.'[203]

With the Fishers abroad, it seems unlikely that the Chicago Gramophone Society met over the summer, although its first issue was distributed around June. By late July, the couple had probably returned; in August, The Phonograph Monthly Review published Vories Fisher's account of their trip, which included a visit to the offices of The Gramophone in London and meetings with its London Editor Christopher Stone, also Secretary of the N.G.S.[204]

In the autumn of 1927, US record societies resumed their meetings, although in November The Phonograph Monthly Review observed that

'The Phonograph Societies are unexpectedly slow in getting under way; so far we have heard only from those in Philadelphia, Providence, New York, and Minneapolis. However, the season is barely begun yet, and next month will undoubtedly see full activities resumed.'[205]

But no reports materialized of any further meetings of the Chicago Gramophone Society. Instead, plans were announced for a second set of records by Christmas 1927, but this was delayed for some months.[206] In May 1928, The Phonograph Monthly Review published a detailed review. With this, the Chicago Gramophone Society disappeared from view. In October 1928, the Review reported,

'The Phonograph Societies are beginning to display signs of real life as the season is about to open. Except from Chicago (which is as silent as the grave), we have word of the activities of all the old societies and plans for several new ones.'[207]

This was the last mention in the magazine of the Society as an organization. Vories Fisher had contributed regularly to the Review since its inception, but published nothing after May 1928. Perhaps significantly, in the final instalment of his column 'Recorded Remnants', Fisher had written,

'I have found that my interest in phonograph records has somewhat cooled – perhaps not waned because I am still buying just as many records as before, but I do not find myself rushing to get them as I did a few years ago. [...] I do not get the excitement that I once did over ordering from a long way off something very choice once every two or three months'[208]

Fisher's engagement with records, and its sudden end, are discussed further on the page devoted to him. The Fishers, especially Vories, appear to have been the main force behind the Chicago Gramophone Society, which was neither large enough nor firmly enough established to survive Vories' loss of interest. Robert Pollak, who did not contribute to The Phonograph Monthly Review, was seemingly unable or disinclined (or both) to sustain the Society without the Fishers.

Archive

The Chicago Gramophone Society left no known archive.

Conclusion

The Chicago Gramophone Society was highly atypical in publishing recordings, but in other respects it closely resembled known North American classical record societies. All were probably small, founded and headed by enthusiasts who were strongly motivated (and, possibly, somewhat domineering), and none seems to have survived for very long. The Phonograph Art Society of Chicago also suspended meetings for the summer of 1927;[209] but in the autumn, nothing more was heard of it. Of the ten or so other societies whose activities were reported in The Phonograph Monthly Review, only one, the Winnipeg Gramophone Society, was still active in 1930.[210] It may seem foolhardy to draw conclusions from the evidence of just one magazine. Still, the Review had appointed itself the incubator and mouthpiece of the record society movement in America. At first, it regularly printed news of projected and newly-formed societies and extensive reports of the meetings and leading personalities of existing societies. But over time, society news and reports fell off in frequency and extent, as they did in its model, The Gramophone. In the December 1927 Review, an unsigned editorial note admitted that,

'Members of American phonograph societies have often expressed their wonder over the successful and smooth running British societeis [sic]. Discouraged sometimes by the efforts necessary to overcome the difficulties of gathering and keeping an American society together, they marvel at the apparent ease with which the British organizations seem to progress and develop. Perhaps the reason may be partly due to the fact that across the water programs and activities of the societies are more entertaining, better suited to hold the members together and to attract new enthusiasts.'[211]

Perhaps so; but another reason was that British and American societies, though superficially similar, were fundamentally different. The British ones were mainly gatherings of hobbyists with an overriding interest in mechanics and reproduction; the American societies documented in The Phonograph Monthly Review displayed a penchant for musical appreciation, and some delight in showing off hard-to-obtain rarities. In the late 1920s, as the industry increasingly catered to such listeners - using the new electrical technology to make domestic recordings, and issuing or importing foreign recordings - the urge to band together for solidarity, and to share information and records, dwindled.

The Chicago society was clearly the child of Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, and if Dorothy Fisher enjoyed the social aspect of communal listening and discussion, Vories Fisher was, by his own admission, a collector drawn to the all too familiar lures of completeness and rarity. This, allied perhaps to the fact that he was not a trained musician, made him a natural early adopter of recording, while his entrepreneurial bent made him, like Compton Mackenzie, seek alternatives to commercial production. If not for Fisher's sudden disenchantment with record collecting, and an apparent increase in his business commitments in early 1928, he might have made a go of his cottage venture; Chicago surely had enough music-lovers to make further pressing runs of 200 break even. But it is difficult, even now, to run a small amateur organization. When Fisher withdrew, there was nobody else ready to take on his role. Pollak too was very busy, and he was more at home in the theatre and concert hall than in front of a phonograph. Even Lyon & Healy did not take over the operation, as they might easily have done. Their main suppliers - Victor, Brunswick, and Columbia - produced more than enough to keep their customers happy. Small, specialist classical record labels, however they were financed, remained extremely rare in the USA until after World War II, and even then they would have a hard time of it.

References

  1. This page appears to be the first published treatment of the Chicago Gramophone Society. The Society is not mentioned in
    • Marco, Guy A. and Andrews, Frank Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound in the United States, New York: Garland, 1993 (Eric Bryant 'Gramophone Societies', pp.906-07, is entirely about British societies)
    • Sutton, Allan (CD-ROM: Nauck, Kurt R.) American record labels and companies: an Encyclopedia (1891-1943), with CD-ROM, Denver, Colorado: Mainspring Press, 2000
    • Hoffmann, Frank (ed.) Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, 2 volumes, London: Routledge, 2005
    The Society is covered in Sutton, Allan The Encyclopedia of American Record Companies and Producers, 1888–1950
    , Littleton, Colorado: Mainspring Press, published in early December 2018; this work was not available as this page was being prepared and has not yet been consulted
  2. The sole study of British talking machine societies remains Bryant, Eric Thomas The Gramophone Society Movement: a history of the gramophone societies in Britain, including their links with public libraries [MA thesis], Queen's University Belfast, 1972
  3. e.g. 'The Critic', Truth [Sydney, NSW], Sunday 12 June 1921, p.1; 'H.M.V.' 'A Gramophone Society' [letter], New Zealand Herald, 12 February 1924, p.11; 'Fidelio' 'Music', The West Australian [Perth, WA], Saturday 20 September 1924, p.11; 'Phonograph Society', The Sun [Sydney, NSW], Tuesday 14 October 1924, p.14
  4. Many historical North American newspapers are available to consult online, though by no means all; still, mentions of phonograph societies are strikingly rare, and the earliest located to date does not in fact report local activity, but quotes an unidentified publication of the Canadian Bureau for the Advancement of Music, which itself quoted an unknown report by the City of London Phonograph Society (founded 1919, still active as the CLPGS), see 'Music Notes', The Lincoln Star [Lincoln, Nebraska], Friday 9 May 1924, p.3
    Early North American phonograph societies have not yet been studied in detail; a brief, preliminary account can be found in Brooks, Tim 'A Survey of Record Collectors' Societies', ARSC Journal, Vol.16 No.3, 1984, pp.17-36
  5. e.g., in North America:
    • British-born Dr. Francis H. Mead (1862-1931) of San Diego, California, see Mead, F.H. 'Records in the United States', The Gramophone, Vol.I No.5, October 1923, pp.91-93
    • Dr. Kenneth E. Britzius (1898-1988) of Minneapolis, Minnesota, future founder-member of the Minneapolis Phonograph Society, see Britzius, K. 'Record Speeds' [letter], ibid., Vol. II No. 1, June 1924, p.25, and Sherman, John K. 'Minneapolis Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, pp.32-34 (on pp.32-33)
    The Gramophone was noticed early in North American newspapers, e.g. Garnett, Davie 'The London Literary Letter', The Courier-Journal [Louisville, Kentucky], Sunday 29 July 1923, Section 3, p.8; 'Compton Mackenzie starts "Gramophone"', in 'Of Interest to Eve', The Winnipeg Evening Tribune [Winnipeg, Canada], Saturday 6 October 1923, p.6
  6. As full an account as possible of the Japanese gramophone society is under preparation, under constraints of time, inaccessibility of documents, the language barrier etc.; for a preliminary account, see Morgan, Nick 'Dragon's head, snake's tail' (blog post), Grumpy's Classics Cave, 3 October 2017
  7. The Boston Gramophone Society appears to have existed for some months before it was noticed in the press: 'The Boston Gramophone Society was organized last fall', Donnelly, G.P. 'Boston Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, pp.32-34 (on pp.33-34); 'The opening meeting of the season of the Boston Gramophone Society, which was formed a while ago but is only now getting on its feet, was held Friday evening, October 1', Wilson, John H. ('Manager') 'The Trade in Boston and New England', The Talking Machine World, Vol.XXII No.10, 15 October 1926, p.107
  8. Darrell, Robert Donaldson 'Boston Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.4, January 1927, pp.175-77; Wilson, John H.(?) 'Boston Phonograph Society Meets' in 'The Trade in Boston and New England', The Talking Machine World, Vol.XXIII No.1, 15 January 1927, p.82
  9. Axel B. Johnson, Managing Editor of The Phonograph Monthly Review, was for a brief time secretary of the Boston Gramophone Society, see 'Boston G.S.' in 'Trade Winds And Idle Zephyrs', The Gramophone, Vol.III No.11, April 1926, pp.519-20 (on p.520); by late 1926, the post had been taken over by his assistant and staff writer Robert D. Darrell, see Darrell, Robert Donaldson 'Boston Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.2, November 1926, pp.33-35 (on pp.33-34); Frank B. Forrest, Business Manager of the Review, was also a charter member of the Boston Gramophone Society, see Johnson, Axel B. 'Topics of General Interest', ibid., Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, pp.29-30 (on p.29)
  10. The Phonograph Monthly Review underwent various name changes:
    • It carried this original name on its cover and masthead from Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, until Vol.1 No.9, June 1927
    • from Vol.1 No.10, July 1927, until Vol.2 No.1, October 1927, it carried the longer title The Music Lovers' Phonograph Monthly Review on its cover, but the original title on its mast-head
    • from Vol.2 No.2, November 1927, it carried the longer title on both cover and mast-head
    • from Vol.5 No.1, October 1930, until Vol.6 No.6, March 1932, the last issue, the title reverted from the long form to the old, short one, but The was now omitted on the cover
    On this page and throughout this site, the magazine is always referred to in the text and footnotes as The Phonograph Monthly Review or, in some contexts, simply as the Review
  11. The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, p.32, contained an article entitled 'Hints on the Formation and Maintenance of a Phonograph Society', by William S. Parks, credited as 'Manager of the N.E. Branch of the Columbia Phonograph Company' and another charter member of the Boston Gramophone Society, followed by three pages of 'Phonograph Society Reports', pp.32-35; the Review continued to chart the activities of such societies until 1930. A few reports were published in The Talking Machine News; other sources remain to be mined for such material
  12. Sherman, John K. 'Minneapolis Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, pp.32-34 (on pp.32-33)
  13. Yarnall, Jame V. 'Philadelphia Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.130-32 (on p.130)
  14. Gelatt, Roland The Fabulous Phonograph (second, revised edition), New York: Collier Books / London: Macmillan, 1977, pp.76-81
  15. Hall, David 'The Mapleson Cylinders. An Historical Introduction', in historical and programme notes (71 pp.) for 'The Mapleson cylinders, 1900-1904', R&H 100 (6-LP box), New York: Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, 1985
  16. Mackenzie, Compton 'Editorial', The Gramophone, Vol.I No.4, September 1923, p.[64]
  17. On the formation and launch of the National Gramophonic Society, see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, §2.4, pp.51-60
  18. White, William Braid 'Featuring the Musical Possibilities of the Talking Machine', The Talking Machine World, Vol.21 No.10, 15 October 1925, p.54; 'National Gramophonic Society Notes', The Gramophone, Vol.IV No.3, August 1926, p.119; White, William Braid 'The N.G.S. in America' [letter], ibid., Vol.IV No.5, October 1926, pp.189-90; Canty, Leonard P. 'Organize Phonograph Art Society of Chicago', in 'From Our Chicago Headquarters', The Talking Machine World, Vol.22 No.12, 15 December 1926, pp.101-08 (on pp.102, 104)
  19. 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded Coming Contests Conducted by Vories Fisher', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, p.23
  20. Fisher, Vories 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, pp.32-34 (on p.32)
  21. The 'First Program' did not give performers' names or labels, but details in Mrs. Fisher's report allow the records to be identified:
    • Beethoven Symphony No.2 in D Op.36, Berlin State Opera Orchestra, Frieder Weissmann, matrices 2-7891/2-7919, 2-7920/2-7892, 2-7893/2-7894-2, 2-7921/2-7922, recorded 21 January and 10 February 1925, Lindström studio, Berlin, issued in US in Odeon Set 16 (discs 5097-5100, 12-inch / 30 cm)
    • Stravinsky Fireworks Op.4, Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski, matrix B-27064-2, recorded 6 November 1922, Camden, New Jersey, issued on Victor 1112 (10-inch)
    • Wagner Parsifal - Act II, scene ii, 'Klingsor's Magic Garden & the Flower Maidens' (orchestral version), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bruno Walter, matrices WAX1156-2/WAX1157-1, WAX1158-14/WAX1159-2, recorded 22 November 1925, Columbia studio, Petty France, London, issued in US on Columbia 67190-D, 67191-D (12-inch / 30 cm)
    • Wagner Götterdämmerung - Prologue, Siegfried's Rhine Journey, symphony orchestra, Albert Coates, matrices CR136-3/CR137-1, recorded 25 May 1926, Queen's Hall, London, issued in US on Victor 9007 (12-inch / 30 cm)
    • Wagner Die Walküre - Act III, 'Magic Fire Music', symphony orchestra, Albert Coates, matrices CR134-1/CR135-2, recorded 25 May 1926, Queen's Hall, London, issued in US on Victor 9006 (12-inch / 30 cm)
    Discographical data from Arnold The Orchestra on Record, 1896-1926, Brown Great Wagner Conductors: a Listener's Companion, Discography of American Historical Recordings, Kelly His Master's Voice Matrix Series prefixed BR/CR, The Phonograph Monthly Review, Taylor Columbia Twelve Inch Records in the United Kingdom 1906-1930, Zwarg Parlophon 2-7500 — 2-8999 — German
  22. Fisher, Dorothy B. 'Programs', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.2, November 1926, pp.33-35 (on pp.34-35)
  23. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.130-32 (on p.131)
  24. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Card 3194, Cook County, Illinois, Roll 1613571, Draft Board 51; Canty, Leonard P. 'W.P. Roche Made a Director', in 'From Our Chicago Headquarters', The Talking Machine World, Vol.21 No.7, 15 July 1925, pp.115-31 (on p.118); 'Now Vice-President of Lyon & Healy', ibid., Vol.24 No.3, March 1928, p.75
  25. 'Why Lyon & Healy Stick to Basic Policy', The Talking Machine World, Vol.21 No.4, 15 April 1925, p.88
  26. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.130-32 (on p.131)
  27. Selective Service Registration Card U 1695, 27 April 1942, World War II (Fourth Registration) for the State of Illinois
  28. 'Obituaries', Chicago Daily Tribune, Tuesday 12 July 1955, Part 3, p.[10]
  29. 'Senior Class', Cap & Gown [University of Chicago Junior Class yearbook], Vol.XXIX, 1924, pp.49-147 (on p.85)
  30. 'Pi Lambda Phi Omicron Chapter', Cap & Gown [University of Chicago Junior Class yearbook], Vol.XXVI, 1921, pp.362-63; NB Pollak is incorrectly named 'Pollock' on p.362, but correctly on p.363
  31. 'Glee Club', Cap & Gown [University of Chicago Junior Class yearbook], Vol.XXV, 1920, pp.324-25 (on p.325)
  32. 'Mme X.' 'News Of Chicago Society', Chicago Sunday Tribune, 17 May 1925, Part 9, pp.1-2 (on p.2)
  33. 'Law Alumni Notes', University of Chicago Magazine, Vol.XIX No.1, November 1926, pp.34-35 (on p.35)
  34. Chicago Central Business And Office Building Directory, Chicago: Winters Publishing Company, 1928, p.228
  35. In 1946, for instance, Harris was one of two lawyers acting for the seller of two large city-centre skyscrapers, see Chase, Al 'Ex-Newsboy Buys 2 Loop Skyscrapers', Chicago Daily Tribune, Friday 27 September 1946, p.1; see also 'Deaths', University of Chicago Magazine, Vol.85 No.6, August 1993, pp.43-45 (on p.43)
  36. 'Aunt Marion, Uncle Will and Julian will want to hear some Wagner.' Fisher, Dorothy B. 'Programs', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.2, November 1926, pp.33-35 (on pp.34-35)
  37. Braun, Rachel Heimovics 'Ernest Bloch and His Chicago Jewish Colleagues', Chicago Jewish History, Vol.35 No.2, Spring 2011, pp.4-8 (on p.7)
  38. 'Ravinia Plans '65 Shakespeare', Chicago Tribune, Monday 16 November 1964, Section Two, p.3; Morgan, Gwen 'Another Tour in the Offing?', ibid., Thursday 7 October 1971, Section 2, p.16; 'Ravinia Festival Association', programme booklet for Ravinia Festival benefit concert "To Assure Ravinia's Future", Tuesday 8 April [1974], p.3; Page, Eleanor 'Ravinia boosters honored',Chicago Tribune, Saturday 7 December 1974, Section 1, p.17; 'Class News', University of Chicago Magazine, Vol.79 No.3, March 1987, pp.34-45 (on p.34)
  39. See e.g. Chicago Central Business and Office Building Directory 1916, Chicago: Winters Publishing Company, July 1916, p.215; Chicago Central Business and Office Building Directory 1927, Chicago: Winters Publishing Company, June 192[illegible] etc.
  40. 'Zeta Mu Phi Medical Fraternity', The Medicos [Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery Senior Class yearbook], 1917, p.204
  41. 'Columbus Lodge No.112, I.O.F.S. of I.', Chicago Jewish Community Blue Book, Chicago: Sentinel Publishing Co., n.d. [1917-18], p.87
  42. The Minneapolis Phonograph Society and Winnipeg Gramophone Society each charged membership dues of $1.00, presumably in their respective currencies, see Sherman, John K. 'Minneapolis Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, pp.32-34 (on pp.32-33), and 'Phonograph Activities in Winnipeg', in 'Phonographic Echoes', ibid., Vol.III No.11, August 1929, p.383-84 (on p.383)
  43. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.130-32 (on p.131)
  44. 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, pp.224-27 (on pp.224-26)
  45. 'The First Recording by an American Phonograph Society', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.10, July 1927, p.442; [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', ibid., Vol.2 No.4, January 1928, pp.134-36 (on pp.135-36)
  46. Fisher, Dorothy B. 'Programs', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.2, November 1926, pp.33-35 (on pp.34-35)
  47. Mrs. Marion Misch (1869-1941) was the prime mover behind the Phonograph Society of Providence, R.I., which held its meetings in her home, and listened to records from her collection; yet its President was a man, while she was only Vice-President, see Darrell, R.D. 'The Providence Phonograph Society', DeWeese, A.P. 'Providence Phonograph Society', and 'Mrs. Marion L. Misch [...]', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.6, March 1927, pp.269-74 (on pp.269-70)
  48. For an instance of tension between working-class gramophone society members and middle-class officers, see Bryant, Eric Thomas The Gramophone Society Movement: a history of the gramophone societies in Britain, including their links with public libraries [MA thesis], Queen's University Belfast, 1972, pp.50-51
  49. On the make-up of the N.G.S.'s membership, see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, §7.2, pp.237-43
  50. On the size of the N.G.S.'s membership over time, see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, §9.1.2, pp.307-11
  51. Fisher, Vories 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, pp.32-34 (on p.32)
  52. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.7, April 1927, pp.315-16 (on p.316)
  53. Founded in 1864, Lyon & Healy is still in business today. It had been involved in record retailing since at least September 1901, when Eldridge Johnson persuaded it to deal in Victor records, a coup described in a company memoir as 'a particularly notable event. At the time, it was the largest and most influential music house in the country'; see under 'Domestic Distribution', in Chapter 5, '1901-1905', in Aldridge, Bemjamin L. (ed. Bayh, Frederic) The Victor Talking Machine Company, RCA, 1964, unpaginated, available online at David Sarnoff Library archive
  54. Keri Armendariz, Marketing Manager, Lyon & Healy and Salvi Harps, personal communication, 1 February 2017
  55. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.130-32 (on p.131)
  56. See e.g. 'I observe with pleasure the tendency of the societies to have their meetings in Public Art Centers or in private homes, rather than in dealers' shops. The latter are all too liable - despite the sincere and splendid co-operation of some dealers - to give an unduly commercial atmosphere to the movement, and indentification [sic] with any of the manufacturing companies or the trade will destroy the absolutely necessary amateur and independent status of the societies.' 'Edwin C. Harrolds' [NB pseudonym] 'I trust that I am not (...)' [letter], The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.10, July 1927, pp.431-32
  57. On the N.G.S.'s relationship with Murdoch, Murdoch & Co., see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, pp.129-29, 253-55
  58. The historic Lyon & Healy building still stands, although no longer occupied by the company; Lyon-Healy now specializes exclusively in harps, and in 2005 opened a new hall to showcase its instruments, see von Rhein, John 'From harp factory, sweet sounds of chamber music', chicagotribune.com, 21 April 2005 (NB URL not accessible in Europe)
  59. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.130-32 (on p.131)
  60. Columbia's 'Personal Record' rates are summarized in Brooks, Tim Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919 (first paperback edition), University of Illinois Press, 2005, pp.442-43
  61. 'The First Recording by an American Phonograph Society', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.10, July 1927, p.442
  62. Fisher, Dorothy B. 'Programs', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.2, November 1926, pp.33-35 (on pp.34-35)
  63. The editor of The Phonograph Monthly Review continued to use the wrong name for several months, e.g. 'Part of my visit in Chicago was spent in the pleasant company of Mr. and Mrs. Vories Fisher, Mr. Harris, Secretary of the Chicago Phonograph Society [...]': Johnson, Axel B. 'General Review', in 'Analytical Notes and Reviews', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, pp.228-36 (on p.228)
  64. Moore, Edward 'Old Standby, 'Aida,' Opens Opera Season', Chicago Sunday Tribune, Sunday 7 November 1926, Part 8: Drama, pp.1, 3 (on p.3)
  65. Probably matrix CVE-32550-2, recorded 29 April 1925, Camden, New Jersey, issued on Victor 6514 (12-inch / 30 cm)
  66. Brahms Violin Sonata in A major Op.100 (i) Allegro amabile, matrices W98188-7 / W98189-7, recorded 14 January 1926, New York, issued on Columbia 67180-D (12-inch / 30 cm, part of complete recording of Sonata in Masterworks set M-36)
  67. Matrix BVE-34439-3, recorded 25 January 1926, Camden, New Jersey, issued on Victor 20013 (10-inch); N.B. Lawrence Brown was in fact only the pianist on this record; according to DAHR, the arranger was Edward Boatner
  68. Matrix BVE-34438-1, recorded 25 January 1926, Camden, New Jersey, issued on Victor 20068 (10-inch); N.B. Brown was also the pianist
  69. Chopin Piano Sonata in b minor (iv) Finale. Presto non tanto, matrices W98181-1 (part) / W98182-1, recorded 11 June 1925, New York, issued on Columbia 67160-D (12-inch / 30 cm, part of complete recording of Sonata in Masterworks set M-32)
  70. Apparently, the same disc as pogrammed for the private 'Dorothy and Vories Fisher Symphony Concert' of 22 October 1926: matrices CR134-1/CR135-2, recorded 25 May 1926, Queen's Hall, London, issued in US on Victor 9006 (12-inch / 30 cm)
    Discographical data from Brown Great Wagner Conductors: a Listener's Companion, Discography of American Historical Recordings, Kelly His Master's Voice Matrix Series prefixed BR/CR
  71. The date and venue of this lecture have not been ascertained
  72. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.130-32 (on p.131)
  73. White, William Braid 'Featuring the Musical Possibilities of the Talking Machine', The Talking Machine World, Vol.21 No.10, 15 October 1925, p.54; id. 'The N.G.S. in America' [letter], The Gramophone, Vol.IV No.5, October 1926, pp.189-90
  74. 'Another Chicago Phonograph Society Planned', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.130-32 (on p.131)
    The records programmed for this recital were all imported from Great Britain, and nearly all electrically recorded:
  75. 'Phonograph Art Society Of Chicago', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.4, January 1927, pp.175-77 (on p.175)
  76. Zur Ruh’, zur Ruh’, with unnamed orchestra and conductor(?), matrix B-12168-2, recorded 9 July 1912, Camden, New Jersey, issued on Victor 17179 (10-inch / 25 cm)
  77. This listing appears to be in error, as Elisabeth van Endert is not known to have recorded Fussreise for Grammophon / Polydor or any other company; by this date, Grammophon had issued four other recordings of Wolf by van Endert:
    • Elfenlied, with unknown pianist, matrix 18875½Lb, recording date unknown, Berlin?, issued on Grammophon 14605 (10-inch / 25 cm)
    • Heimweh, with unknown pianist, matrix 17055L, recorded 1914, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 943233, (13264) (10-inch / 25 cm)
    • Heimweh, with unknown pianist, matrix 17149L, recorded 1914, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 2-43450, 943396, 61795, 13982 (10-inch / 25 cm)
    • In dem Schatten meiner Locken, with unknown pianist, matrix 15509L, recorded 26 May 1913, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 2-43421, 943421, 13994 (10-inch / 25 cm)
    If Fussreise was programmed for this recital, two recordings could have been meant:
    • Joseph Groenen (baritone), unknown pianist, matrix 1963ar, recorded 1922, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 62407 (10-inch / 25 cm)
    • Heinrich Schlusnus (baritone), Michael Raucheisen (piano), matrix 3578ar, recorded September 1924, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 70705 (10-inch / 25 cm)
  78. Der Freund, with Bruno Seidler-Winkler (piano), matrix 14122r, recorded July(?) 1920, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 70658 (10-inch / 25 cm)
  79. Der Musikant, with Bruno Seidler-Winkler (piano), matrix 14123r, recorded July(?) 1920, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 70659 (10-inch / 25 cm)
  80. Auf dem grünen Balkon, with Harold Craxton (piano), matrix Bb5928-2, recorded 24 March 1925, Gramophone Company studios, Hayes, Middlesex, issued on H.M.V. DA715 (10-inch / 25 cm)
  81. Verschwiegene Liebe, with Bruno Seidler-Winkler(?) (piano), matrix 14124r, recorded July(?) 1920, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 70660 (10-inch / 25 cm)
  82. Der Rattenfänger, with unknown pianist, matrix 1470ar, recorded summer 1922, Berlin, issued on Grammophon 70661 and 70660 (10-inch / 25 cm)
  83. 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, pp.224-27 (on pp.224-26)
  84. Oman, George W. 'Chicago Phonograph Art Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, pp.224-27 (on p.227)
  85. 'Special', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.224
  86. Matrices Cc7064-3▲ / Cc7066-1▲, recorded 26 October 1925, Gramophone Company studios, Hayes, Middlesex
  87. Matrices CP260-1 / CP261-2, recorded 24 June 1924, Gramophone Company studio(?), Paris
  88. Matrix B-26100-2, recorded 30 January 1922, Victor studios, Camden, New Jersey
  89. Matrix Cc3153-2, recorded 26 June 1923, Gramophone Company studios, Hayes, Middlesex
  90. Matrices Cc7166-2▲ / Cc7168-1▲, Cc7169-3▲ / Cc7167-2▲, recorded 3 November 1925, Gramophone Company studios, Hayes, Middlesex
  91. Matrix C-26101-1, recorded 30 January 1922, Victor studios, Camden, New Jersey
  92. Harris, L.F. [sic, recte L.J.] 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.6, March 1927, pp.269-74 (on pp.270-73)
  93. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.7, April 1927, pp.315-16 (on p.316)
  94. Oman, George W. 'The Phonograph Art Society of Chicago', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.8, May 1927, pp.353-55 (on pp.354)
  95. Ridout, Herbert C. 'Behind The Needle – XXXI', The Gramophone, Vol.XX No.236, January 1943, pp.108-09 (on p.108)
  96. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.8, May 1927, pp.353-55 (on pp.354-55)
  97. 'Centennial of Beethoven's Death Is Widely Commemorated in Chicago Trade', The Music Trade Review, Vol.LXXXIV No.14, 2 April 1927, p.23
  98. From complete recording in Masterworks set M-45 (US issue); matrices ⓌRAX2151-2 / ⓌRAX2152-2, recorded 10 November 1926, Scala Theatre, London
  99. From complete recording in Masterworks set M-47 (US issue); matrices ⓌRAX2141-2 / ⓌRAX2142-2, recorded 27 November 1926, Free Trade Hall, Manchester
  100. From complete recording in Masterworks set M-48 (US issue); matrices ⓌRAX2419-1 / ⓌRAX2420-2, ⓌRAX2421-2 / ⓌRAX2422-3, recorded 29 and 30 January 1927, Scala Theatre, London
  101. From complete recording in Masterworks set M-64 (US issue); matrix ⓌRAX2404-2, recorded 27 January 1927, Scala Theatre, London
  102. Matrices Ⓦ98313-1 / Ⓦ98314-3, recorded 8 February 1927, Columbia studios, New York
  103. e.g. 'The Young People's Concert the Third of Mr. Frank Damrosch's Explanatory Entertainments', The New York Times, Sunday 8 January 1899, p.6
  104. e.g.'Wagner Interpreted', Los Angeles Daily Times, Friday 2 March 1900, p.7; 'As Told In Music', The Topeka Daily Herald [Topeka, Kansas], Monday 18 April 1904, p.5; Damrosch, Walter 'Damrosch Tells of Muck Case', The Boston Sunday Globe, 24 February 1924, Editorial and News Feature Section, p.1
  105. e.g. Chapple, Joe Mitchell 'Biographic Flashes Face To Face with Famous Folk', Asbury Park Evening Press [Asbury Park, New Jersey], Friday 25 January 1924, p.[5]; Dooly, Louise 'Slams and Salaams', The Constitution [Atlanta, Georgia], Saturday 23 October 1926, p.14; 'Damrosch Recital On Opera, "Siegfried"', St. Louis Post-Dispatch [St. Louis, Missouri], Sunday 21 November 1926, Part 7, p.1B
  106. '"Beethoven Hour" Will Be Given On Saturday', The Richmond Item [Richmond, Indiana], Thursday 17 March 1927, p.8
  107. Moise, Lionel C. 'Music-Go-Round', Salt Lake Telegram [Salt Lake City, Utah], Sunday 29 May 1927, Screen–Drama–Music, p.5
  108. 'The Listener' 'On the Air', The Evening Sun [Baltimore, Maryland], Friday 13 January 1928, p.31; 'Children To Hear Damrosch On Air', Public Opinion [Chambersburg, Pennsylvania], Friday 5 October 1928, p.6
  109. The Léner Quartet's set of Op.135 for Columbia was seemingly a somewhat problematic production: a complete recording was made on 29 November 1926, processed and pressed as 'tests', but three of its six sides were rejected and remade on 3 March 1927, resulting in a slightly delayed release in April 1927, in the US in Masterworks Album M-55 (three discs, 67270-D>72-D, 12-inch / 30 cm)
  110. From complete recording in Masterworks Album M-66 (US issue, manual coupling), subsequently also issued on 72255-D (automatic coupling) in Album MM-66; matrix ⓌRAX1962-1, recorded 28 September 1926, Wigmore Hall, London
  111. From complete recording in Masterworks Album M-50 (US issue); matrices ⓌRAX2122-2, ⓌRAX2123-2 (part), recorded 7 November 1926, Wigmore Hall, London
  112. (Manual coupling) in unnumbered Musical Masterpieces album, later numbered M-8; matrices BVE-37292-2 / BVE-37293-9, BVE-37294-2 / BVE-37295-4, BVE-37296-5 / BVE-37297-6, BVE-37298-6, recorded 30 December 1926, 3 and 4 January 1927, Victor studios, Camden, New Jersey; subsequently issued on Victor 1417>19 (automatic coupling), in album AM-8
  113. Harris, L.F. [sic, recte L.J.] 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.6, March 1927, pp.269-74 (on pp.270-73)
  114. 'Special', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.224
  115. 'The First Recording by an American Phonograph Society', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.10, July 1927, p.442
  116. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.4, January 1928, pp.134-36 (on p.136)
  117. Transfer from Chicago Gramophone Society discs 50016-P, 50017-P, shelf marks 9CL0043973, 9CL0043974, British Library, London
  118. Morgan, Nick 'Murdered But Not Silenced: A unique recording of pianist Marion Roberts (1901-1927)', post on British Library Sound and vision blog, 27 July 2016
  119. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.1, October 1927, pp.9-10 (on p.10)
  120. Johnson, Axel B. 'General Review', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.2, November 1927, pp.[41]-45 (on p.44)
  121. 'The Chicago Gramophone Society (...)' [notice], The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.4, January 1928, p.146
  122. 'The First Recording by an American Phonograph Society', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.10, July 1927, p.442
  123. 'The Chicago Gramophone Society (...)' [notice], The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.4, January 1928, p.146
  124. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.11, August 1927, pp.462-63
  125. 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded Coming Contests Conducted by Vories Fisher', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, p.23
  126. The first competition in The Gramophone was run by an advertiser, Blüthner House, the London branch of the German piano makers: the December 1923 issue (Vol.I No.7) contained an entry form (missing from the copy consulted for this page), while on p.134 an 'S.O.S. from The Editor' urged readers to enter. The brief was to find a new name for a gramophone retailed by Blüthner, and the prize was the very substantial sum of 25 guineas (£26.25 in decimal notation). The results were published in 'Special Announcement' [advertisement], ibid., Vol.I No.10, March 1924, advertisements p.xvii (my thanks to Peter Adamson for an image of the announcement, also missing from the copy consulted for this page).
    Thereafter, competitions were run by the magazine itself with increasing regularity:
    • The first, a repertoire competition, was a clear model for Vories Fisher's recording contest in The Phonograph Monthly Review: readers were invited to vote for a symphony to be recorded by the Gramophone Company, see Mackenzie, Compton 'Editorial', The Gramophone, Vol.I No.8, January 1924, p.[146], and voting form, ibid., advertisements p.xviii (missing from the copy consulted for this page); the winners were named and the results published and analysed in Mackenzie, Faith [as 'F. Sharp'] and Mackenzie, Compton 'The Symphony Competition', ibid., Vol.I No.10, March 1924, pp.202-03
    • The next competition was a comparative test of gramophones, clearly a model for Fisher's second contest; it was conducted before an audience of Gramophone readers at the Steinway Hall (London showroom of Steinway & Sons) in June 1924, see 'Editorial Notes', ibid., Vol.II No.1, June 1924, pp.[1]-2 (on p.[1]), 'The Gramophone Tests at the Steinway Hall', ibid., Vol.II No.2, July 1924, pp.[33]-36, and Mackenzie, Compton 'The Gramophone Test', ibid., Vol.II No.3, August 1924, pp.77-82
    • In the June issue's 'Editorial Notes', a writing competition had been announced, the start of a series which furnished a model for later contests in The Phonograph Monthly Review: Gramophone readers were invited to nominate a dozen records, costing between 2s 6d (12½p) and 5s 6d (27½p), and to write brief notes justifying their choices; the winner would receive £2 worth of discs, presumably from this price range (the terms were rather vague, as the final adjudication acknowledged), see 'The June Competition Twelve Best Middle-Priced Records', ibid., Vol.II No.3, August 1924, pp.91-93. This was immediately followed by another, for 'Twelve Favourite Records of Gilbert and Sullivan Opera', see 'A New Competition', ibid., Vol.II No.3, August 1924, p.93, and 'The Gilbert and Sullivan Competition', ibid., Vol.II No.5, October 1924, pp.164-65
    • In March 1925, a competition was launched with the express aim of boosting the circulation of The Gramophone (this, too, would be copied by (The Phonograph Monthly Review); this did not require entrants to show any musical or discographical knowledge, or submit any original writing, see 'Competition', ibid., Vol.II No.10, March 1925, p.359, and 'Our Publicity Competition', ibid., Vol.III No.3, August 1925, p.136
    • From May 1925, readers were invited to vote on submissions published in the magazine's new 'Forum', of which the three gaining the most votes in each quarter would be awarded prizes, see 'The Forum', ibid., Vol.II No.12, May 1925, pp.476-79 (on p.476), and 'The Forum', ibid., Vol.III No.3, August 1925, p.136
    • By March 1926, the magazine was launching three competitions at once, including one for overseas readers only, who were invited to write an essay on 'What my gramophone and The Gramophone have done for me', see 'Competitions', ibid., Vol.III No.10, March 1926, p.496, 'The March Competitions', ibid., Vol.III No.12, May 1926, p.558, and 'Competitions', ibid., Vol.IV No.1, June 1926, p.21. In April, Compton Mackenzie had set another essay, on 'Why I don't like chamber music', see Mackenzie, Compton 'The January and February Records', The Gramophone, Vol.III No.11, April 1926, pp.[498]-504 (on p.500), id. 'March Records', ibid., Vol.III No.12, May 1926, pp.[543]-46 (on p.545), 'Chamber Music Competition', ibid., Vol.IV No.2, July 1926, pp.61-62, and Gilman, Lionel 'Why I like Chamber Music', ibid., Vol.IV No.8, January 1927, pp.350-51
    (These competitions were possibly modelled on those run in the general press at the time; the latter have not been investigated for this page)
    • In December 1925, the South-East London Recorded Music Society launched a competition for two prizes of records, one donated by Mackenzie, who was a patron, see Baker, Ernest 'The South-East London Recorded Music Society', in 'Gramophone Societies' Reports', ibid., Vol.III No.7, December 1925, pp.325-28 (on p.328), and 'An Interesting Competition', ibid., Vol.III No.8, January 1926, p.362
  127. Fisher, Vories 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.2, November 1926, pp.28-29
  128. Fisher, Vories 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', ibid., Vol.1 No.3, December 1926, pp.119, 122 (on p.119)
  129. Fisher, Vories 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', ibid., Vol.1 No.4, January 1927, pp.177-78; id. 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', ibid., Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.218
  130. Fisher, Vories 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.6, March 1927, p.252
  131. Prize Contest', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.219
  132. 'As announced in the April issue (...)' [untitled notice], The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.9, June 1927, p.396; Fisher, Vories et al. 'Prize Contest', ibid., Vol.1 No.11, August 1927, pp.472-73
  133. 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.2, November 1927, pp.56-58
  134. Fisher, Vories 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.4, January 1927, pp.177-78 (on p.177)
  135. 'Special', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.224
  136. Mackenzie, Compton 'Editorial', The Gramophone, Vol.I No.4, September 1923, p.[64]
  137. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.6, March 1927, p.274
  138. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.1, October 1927, pp.9-10 (on p.10)
  139. Johnson, Axel B. 'General Review', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.3, December 1927, pp.[81]-84 (on p.83)
  140. On the growth in commercial recordings of chamber music in Great Britain after 1926, see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, §5.3, pp.179-88; on the competitive threat this posed to the N.G.S., see ibid., §9.2.3.1-3, pp.324-32
  141. In April 1924, Compton Mackenzie stated, 'As far as the result of our Symphony Competition is concerned, we are promised more than half the six chosen symphonies by H.M.V. [i.e. the Gramophone Co.] in the moderately near future', Mackenzie, Compton The Gramophone, ibid., Vol.I No.11, April 1924, p.[217]. This was partly correct, if somewhat misleading: the Gramophone Company had already recorded three of the symphonies chosen by readers (Mozart's Symphony No.41 in C major K.551, Beethoven's No.9 in d minor Op.125 and Brahms's No.2 in D major Op.73); one (Franck's Symphony in d minor) was recorded but issued only in France; the Company did not record the remaining two (Mozart's Symphony No.40 in g minor K.550 and Beethoven's No.6 in F Op.68) for several years
  142. On the N.G.S.'s voting system, see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, §3.6, pp.94-98; N.G.S. members voted only on repertoire, not on artists
  143. On the N.G.S.'s Advisory Committee, see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, §3.3-4, pp.67-88
  144. Pollak, Robert 'Musical Notes', The Chicagoan, Vol.3 No.2, 9 April 1927, pp.14-15 (on p.14)
  145. R[uth].M[iller]. 'Stella Roberts Earns Unstinted Praise in Debut at Violinist', Chicago Daily Tribune, Wednesday 9 March 1921, p.19; see also 'Fiddle Strings', The Violinist, Vol.XXVIII No.1, January 1921, pp.124-126(?) (on p.124)
  146. 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, pp.224-27 (on pp.224-26)
  147. Harris, L.F. [sic, recte L.J.] 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.6, March 1927, pp.269-74 (on pp.270-73)
  148. Fisher, Vories 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.4, January 1927, pp.177-78
  149. 'Radio Programs', The Citizen [Ottawa, Canada], Tuesday 17 November 1925, p.7
  150. Pollak, Robert 'Musical Notes', The Chicagoan, Vol.1 No.1, 14 June 1926, p.22
  151. Donaghey, Frederick 'Of Ballads, Songs, and Snatches', Chicago Sunday Tribune, 30 December 1917, part 7, p.3; id. 'Saturday To Monday In Music', Chicago Daily Tribune, Monday 31 December 1917, p.9
  152. Pollak, Robert 'Musical Notes', The Chicagoan, Vol.2 No.5, 15 November 1926, pp.16-17 (on p.17)
  153. Pollak, Robert 'Musical Notes', The Chicagoan, Vol.3 No.11, 13 August 1927, p.30; see also Moore, Edward 'High Praise Is Won by Ballet of Allied Arts', Chicago Daily Tribune, Monday 27 December 1926, p.19
  154. 'Mme X.' 'Tonight's The Night We Greet World Flyers', Chicago Sunday Tribune, 9 November 1924, Part 10, pp.[1]-2 (on p.2); Moore, Edward 'Of New Things in Ballet and Music', ibid., 23 November 1924, Part 8, pp.[1], 8; 'Latest Thing In Fine Arts', The City Club Bulletin, Vol.XVII No.38, Monday 22 December 1924, p.154
  155. 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, pp.224-27 (on pp.224-26); the only American recording played by Pollak was by Reinald Werrenrath, see above
  156. Hager is first known to have sung Wolf at the New Theater in Staunton, Virginia, on 19 October 1927, see N.D.D. 'Music', The Staunton News-Leader [Staunton, Virginia], Thursday 20 October 1927, p.3
  157. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.6, March 1927, p.274
  158. Fisher, Vories & Britzius, Dr. K[enneth]. 'List of Recorded Music of Richard Strauss', The Gramophone, Vol.III No.4, September 1925, p.183
  159. 'I well remember a Richard Strauss concert where all the records were Polydor.' Fisher, Dorothy B. 'Programs', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.2, November 1926, pp.33-35 (on pp.34-35)
  160. Hager is first known to have sung Strauss on 4 February 1922, during her earliest documented broadcast, see 'Here Is Tonight's Program Of News Service By Radio', Chicago Daily Tribune, Saturday 4 February 1922, p.13; she next sang his music in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 24 October 1922, see Davies, James 'Mina Hager Recital', Minneapolis Morning Tribune [Minneapolis, Minnesota], Wednesday 25 October 1922, p.10
  161. All details of Columbia recording sessions for the Chicago Gramophone Society were ascertained, from original Columbia cards now held by Sony Music Entertainment in New York, by Michael H. Gray, whose kind help is gratefully acknowledged; personal communication, 30 September 2015
  162. The subdivision of long works for recording on 78 rpm sides was not a straightforward matter, and depended on:
    • the number of sides required (i.e. projected overall duration)
    • the work's internal structure
    • the performer's intended tempi
    • taste
    • financial imperatives, such as the desire to use as few sides as possible; the N.G.S.'s issue of Debussy's String Quartet in g minor Op.10 presented the movements in the order (i), (iii), (ii), (iv) for this reason
    • commercial imperatives, such as the desire to present shorter movements such as scherzos on a single, easy-to-sell disc (not a consideration relevant to the Chicago Gramophone Society)
    All five commercial recordings of Franck's Prelude, Chorale and Fugue published in the decade after Marion Roberts' were, like hers, all issued on 12-inch (30 cm) discs; of these,
    • 2 occupied four sides
    • 2 occupied five sides
    • 1 six occupied sides
    (See summary discography)
  163. 'Special', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.224
  164. When Roberts was found shot dead near Paris on 23 April 1927, a scrap of paper was found on her body, on which were written the names of Grace Welsh, and Welsh's colleague and friend Aletta Tenold (1894-1968), with a Manhattan address; Welsh's surname was abbreviated to 'W.' and Tenold's was much garbled in press reports, although at least one confirmed these details and added others, see 'Letter Indicates Pianist Had No Thought Of Impending Tragedy', Freeport Journal-Standard [Freeport, Illinois], Tuesday 26 April 1927, p.9
  165. Aletta Tenold could also have accompanied Roberts to the Columbia studio, but no reports of her whereabouts at the time have been located; based in Flandreau, South Dakota, she reportedly studied in New York, and in 1928 taught at the American Conservatory in Chicago, was appointed to its staff in 1929, and formed a piano duo there with Grace Welsh at about the same time, see 'Rosary College News', Forest Park Review [Forest Park, Illinois], Saturday 16 February 1929, p.[2]; M.R. 'Music Activities', The Vancouver Sun [Vancouver, British Columbia], Saturday 9 March 1929, Section Three, p.3; 'No.1 Miss Aletta Tenold of Flandreau (...)' [photograph caption], The Daily Argus-Leader [Sioux Falls, South Dakota], Sunday 8 September 1929, Sunday Magazine And Feature Section, p.7; and 'Aletta Tenold' in 'Obituaries', Chicago Tribune, Saturday 27 July 1968, Section 1A, p.16
  166. Roberts' recording can be auditioned today via the media player embedded in Morgan, Nick 'Murdered But Not Silenced: A unique recording of pianist Marion Roberts (1901-1927)', British Library Sound and vision blog, posted 27 July 2016. The player has no time counter, and it is easier to locate the 'noises off' on the second side by downloading the sound file and playing it locally: they occur at 6:01 and 7:36
  167. I am indebted for this observation to Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music at the British Library Sound Archive
  168. As the worst instance of this, on the second of the three N.G.S. discs containing Brahms's Piano Trio in c minor Op.101, performed by the Pirani Trio, catalogue numbers 147>49, 'an intermittent "swishing" noise like that of a chaff-cutting machine was perceptible [...] naturally a good many members have written in about this or even returned record No.148 as "faulty" and asked for it to be replaced. It is most unfortunate that this cannot be done and [...] if any member prefers to return all three records at once credit will be given for the cost of them.' 'National Gramophonic Society Notes', The Gramophone, Vol.8 No.85, June 1930, p.11
  169. Thanks are due to Douglas Brown, archivist of Groton School, for kindly furnishing a photocopy of the label of Personal Record 50018-P (personal communication, February 2017)
    For a brief history of Columbia's Personal Record Department, see Brooks, Tim 'Columbia Corporate History: Personal Recording', from Rust, Brian and Brooks, Tim The Columbia Master Book Discography, Volume I, U.S. matrix series 1 through 4999, 1901-1910 with a history of the Columbia Phonograph Company to 1934, Westport, Connecticut Greenwood Press, 1999
  170. Harris, Neil, assisted by Edelstein, Terry J. The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age, University of Chicago Press, 2008
  171. Professor Neil Harris, personal communication, 22 May 2017; Professor Harris's kind help is very gratefully acknowledged
  172. 'It was most unfortunate that they could not have been numbered and signed.' 'The First Recording by an American Phonograph Society', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.10, July 1927, p.442
  173. Commercial record company retail prices are easily ascertained from contemporary sources, such as supplements and bulletins, trade and consumer magazines and newspapers. They were routinely listed in advertisements, reviews and other editorial matter in The Phonograph Monthly Review, e.g. in Vol.1 No.5, February 1927:
  174. Brooks, Tim Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919 (first paperback edition), University of Illinois Press, 2005, p.442
  175. 'Special', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.224
  176. The Society's announcements neither stipulated that subscribers must be members, nor offered members a special rate, see 'Special', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.224, and 'The Chicago Gramophone Society (...)' [notice], The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.4, January 1928, p.146
  177. On the N.G.S.'s terms and conditions of membership, and their evolution, see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, §3.5, pp.88-94
  178. 'Declamation. Dainippon Meikyoku Records Seisaku Hanpu Kwai [sic], Tokio' [leaflet], reprinted in full in 'An Eastern N.G.S.', The Gramophone, Vol.IV No.3, August 1926, p.120
  179. 'Special', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.5, February 1927, p.224; many companies had offices at 208 South LaSalle St.; it has not been possible to identify which Vories Fisher was then working for
  180. 'The Chicago Gramophone Society (...)' [notice], The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.4, January 1928, p.146; again, it has not been possible to identify the business then trading at this address
  181. The Fishers' trip to Europe was first announced in 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.7, April 1927, p.299; they had apparently left by June, see 'As announced in the April issue' [notice], ibid., Vol.1 No.9, June 1927, p.396, and were back by the end of July, see [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', ibid., Vol.1 No.11, August 1927, pp.462-63
  182. Fisher, Vories 'Chicago Phonograph Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.1, October 1926, pp.32-34 (on p.32)
  183. Moore, Edward 'Here and There in Music', in 'Old Standby, "Aida," Opens Opera Season', Chicago Sunday Tribune, 7 November 1926, Part 8: Drama, p.3
  184. Lyon & Healy placed prominent advertisements in the Chicago Tribune, from 1864, when it was founded, until at least 1979, when it closed its retail outlets in the city, see e.g. 'New Music Store Lyon & Healy' [advertisement], Chicago Tribune, Friday 4 November 1864, p.[1], and 'Lyon & Healy's big January piano & organ clearance sale' [advertisement], ibid., Monday 1 January 1979, Section 2, p.1
  185. Lyon & Healy was sold several times from the 1950s to the 1980s, and its business archive has disappeared, leaving details of its dealings with the Society obscure; Keri Armendariz, Marketing Manager, Lyon & Healy and Salvi Harps, personal communication, 1 February 2017
  186. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.6, March 1927, p.274; Fisher was unable to discover anything more about the putative Berlin Philharmonic Recording Society, see id. 'Recorded Remnants', ibid., Vol.1 No.8, May 1927, p.341
  187. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.11, August 1927, pp.462-63 (on p.463)
  188. Auner, Joseph A Schoenberg Reader. Documents of a Life, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2008, pp.150-53
  189. Schmidt, Carsten 'Schoenberg versus Ultraphon', Classical Recordings Quarterly, No.62, Autumn 2010, pp.39-42. Schoenberg's incomplete recording of Verklärte Nacht Op.4, in the version for string orchestra, can be auditioned on the website of the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna, but readers are warned that the transfer has been subjected to excessive processing and does not give a reliable, meaningful or enjoyable impression of this extremely important document; 'new raw transfers together with well-documented restorations ("listening versions")' of this and Schoenberg's other recordings, which Schmidt stated were due to be issued in an 'annotated critical edition' by the Center, in association with the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung in Berlin, do not appear to have materialised to date
  190. Harris, L.J. 'Chicago Gramophone Society', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.7, April 1927, pp.315-16 (on p.316)
  191. On the N.G.S.'s approach to advertising and reliance on word-of-mouth recommendations, see Morgan, Nick The National Gramophonic Society, Sheffield: CRQ Editions, 2016, §4.3.2, pp.134-40, and §4.3.4, pp.146-47
  192. [Pollak, Robert] 'Current Records', The Chicagoan, Vol.4 No.8, 14 January 1928, p.26
  193. Canty, Leonard P. 'Organize Phonograph Art Society of Chicago', in 'From Our Chicago Headquarters', The Talking Machine World, Vol.22 No.12, 15 December 1926, pp.101-08 (on pp.102, 104); 'Phonograph Art Society of Chicago', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.4, January 1927, pp.175-77 (on p.175)
  194. '[...] when the pioneering Phonograph Monthly Review was running as a two-man operation, with my writing under various pseudonyms supplying all the reviews (purportedly "By Our Staff Critics") and much else, I was wont to fill out the correspondence columns, and provoke real letters, by writing as "A Delian," "Ravel Fan," or "Sibelian," etc.' Darrell, R.D. 'O Pioneer (A Half Century Later)', ARSC Journal, Vol.19 No.1, 1987, pp.4-10 (on p.5)
  195. Abbott, Lawrence Jacob 'Rolls and Discs', The Outlook, Vol.146 No.14, 3 August 1927, pp.456-57 (on p.456)
  196. Ward, Roger 'Abbott, Lyman (1835-1922)', in Shook, John R. (ed) Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, Bristol: Thoemmes, 2005, pp.7-8
  197. Abbott's career has not been investigated in detail but would surely furnish a rewarding case study in independent record criticism and and musical appreciation; in 1928, his contribution on musical notation to a children's encyclopaedia received a glowing review, see 'Music In Book Of Knowledge', The Pittsburgh Press [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], Saturday 3 March 1928, p.5, while in the 1940 US Federal Census, his occupation was given as 'radio writer', 'N.B.C. Radio'
  198. 'Trade Winds and Idle Zephyrs', The Gramophone, Vol.5 No.4, September 1927, pp.171-72 (on p.172)
  199. Potter, Robert W.F. 'The Songs of Richard Strauss', The Gramophone, Vol.XIII No.154, March 1936, pp.407-10 (on pp.409-10)
  200. e.g. 'Minim' 'Music', The Western Mail [Perth, WA], Thursday 22 January 1925, p.19
  201. e.g. 'Piano', Disques, Vol.1 No.1, March 1930, pp.21-22 (on p.21); R[obert].D[onaldson].D[arrell]. 'Current Importations', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.V No.3, issue 51, December 1930, p.104-05, 108 (on p.104); R.H.S.P. 'Instrumental Piano', in 'Reviews of New Records', ibid., Vol.VI No.3, issue 63, December 1931, pp.50-60 (on p.54); Pakenham, Compton 'Recent Recordings', New York Times, Sunday 25 July 1937, p.136
  202. 'Is Your Favorite Work Recorded?', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.7, April 1927, p.299
  203. 'Phonograph Activities', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.9, June 1927, p.395
  204. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.11, August 1927, pp.462-63
    NB from Vol.1 No.10, July 1927, to Vol.2 No.1, October 1927 (inclusive), the Review carried the new, long title on its cover but not on its mast-head; from Vol.2 No.2, November 1927 (inclusive) onwards, it carried the long title on the cover and mast-head
  205. Johnson, Axel B. 'General Review', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.2, November 1927, pp.[41]-45
  206. Johnson, Axel B. 'General Review', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.2, November 1927, pp.[41]-45
  207. Johnson, Axel B. 'General Review', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.3 No.1, October 1928, pp.1-5
  208. [Fisher,] Vories 'Recorded Remnants', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.8, May 1928, p.298
  209. Oman, George W. 'The Phonograph Art Society of Chicago', in 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.1 No.8, May 1927, pp.353-55 (on p.354)
  210. 'Canadian Activities', in 'Phonographic Echoes', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.4 No.9, June 1930, p.311
  211. 'Phonograph Society Reports', The Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol.2 No.3, December 1927, pp.104-06 (on p.104)