London Office lOa Soho Square

London, W.I

Edited by


Tolophono Gerrard 2136. 2137

Tol.,raml Parmaxto. Rath. London

Vol. XIV

MARCH 1937

No. 166


Old Friends

A FTER reading Mr. Ridout's editorial of last month I have come to the conclusion i t was a pity that we did not start "guest" editorials years ago. What is done by orchestras of every country, kind, and size may surely be done by a paper that exists through the recorded work of such orchestras. Although i t is Shrove Tuesday as I write these words, I am not going to indulge in the pleasure of a battle of flowers with Mr. Ridout, because I have never been able to hand him the most insignificant button-hole of a compliment, let alone a full-size bouquet, without his looking at me l ike what the ladies of Dickens's time used to call a quizz. It must be just over fourteen years ago that I had my first talk with him about THE GRAMOPHONE, which was actually born in the month of April 1923, and I could not commit myself to the statement that he was enthusiastic about the prospects of my proposed venture. He was candid, however, which to an optimistic person like myself is more useful than being enthusiastic. That candour he has never withheld from me on any occasion I have met him since, and its value to THE GRAMOPHONE probably only Christopher Stone and myself can fully appreciate. Mr. Ridout's office in Clerkenwell Road let in a great deal more light through its window than i t was customary to find in London offices even so short a while ago as 1923, and the candour I found there-and still find there, thank goodness, for Mr. Ridout's office is one of the few things in the gramophone industry which has not changed-is pleasantly associated in my mind with the lightness and airiness of the room in which I have always experienced it.

Readers who possess the first number of THE GRAMOPHONE must forgive me if I talk a little about that first number for readers who do not possess it. It consisted of 20! pages of matter, a supplement of 21 pages of translations from Italian opera, and 8 or 9 pages of advertisements. Of those 20! pages I wrote rather over 12 myself. I t began with a Prologue by Compton Mackenzie which, although he was forty years old at the time, reads to him to-day very much like editorials he used to write for a school magazine


when he was fourteen. Such is the blessed and rejuvenating effect of a new passion, and in making that remark I have the support of Goethe. The next article was A Royal Record by Warren Monk, who I shall now reveal was our old friend Walter Yeomans. In i t he says" i t has been thought advisable to delay, by a few days, the publication of the April number of THE GRAMOPHONE, in order that readers might be given the first authentic account of a record which Their Majesties King George and Queen Mary have been pleased to make of Empire Day messages to the children of the British Empire. . . . No other means are in existence by which the children of London, Inverness, Calcutta, Ottawa and Fremantle can at , say, 12 noon . . . hear speeches by their KingEmperor and their Queen-Empress delivered in their own voices."

That puts wireless in its place! It is amusing to read Warren Monk's euphemism for the delay by which a magazine advertised to appear on the first of April did not actually appear till the last day of the month. The next article was a plea by myself to play chamber music on the gramophone, morning and evening instead of doing physical jerks. I had been able to coUect fifteen" more or less complete" pieces of chamber music, which allowed one extra for Sunday evening. That they were much shortened can be judged by the fact that the fifteen pieces could be got on to thirty-two discs. The cost of these, I note, was £12 . To-day one could buy the complete versions of all these quartets and quintets for very much less than twice as much. Nine of the recordings were made by Vocalion and six by Columbia. His Master's Voice had not yet ventured to record more than as much of a single movement as would go on one side of a disc. Nevertheless, honour where honour is due, and that belongs to H.M.V. for the recording of the first complete string quartet, the choice rather curiously being Brahms's C minor, Op. 51, NO.1. That appeared in February 1924, played by the Catterall Quartet on four black d.s. discs at 6s. 6d. apiece. Mark Hambourg . followed with an article on piano-recording, and marvelled at the advance which had been made in