THE GRAMOPHONE Incorporating V 0 X, THE RA 0 I 0 C R I TIC and B R 0 A 0 CAS T REV lEW

London Office: 10a Soho Square

London, W.1


Edited by

Gerrard 2136, 2137



Vol. XVI


No. 184


Landon Ronald and Artur Toscanini

IN the first number of TnE GRAMOPHONE published in the month of April, 1923 I wrote the following words:

"The most impressive work issued during the period under examination is Beethoven's C minor Symphony, conducted by Sir Landon Ronald and played by the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra (H.M.V. D665, D666, D667, D668). There is no doubt that solely from the point of view of recording this new version is the best issued so far. Actually I prefer the old rendering conducted by Nikisch with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, now taken out of circulation. Still, there were some disastrous noises on that, particularly in the famous opening bars of the first movement, which sounded like foghorns being let off by a mischievous boy. I am a confirmed romantic, and I prefer the more romantic interpretation of Nikisch to Sir Landon Rona:ld's. Sir Landon makes i t altogether a much more practical affair, so much more practical that I have been tempted to transfer my allegiance from the Fifth Symphony to the Seventh Symphony, of which I possess a too much mutilated version conducted by Mr. Albert Coates and issued in France. I have also two records of th e finale of the Fifth Symphony, conducted by Toscanini. These have been published in America and Italy, but not in England. I think that Toscanini 's small orchestra is the most effective of all on the gramophone. I f a Beethoven fanatic will give himself the trouble to order these two discs, he will find them listed in the Italian catalogue, Nos. 3-0615 and 3-0616 ; and if he is content to wait for about six months while the French fool about with them in -transit, and if h e does not fear embarking on a long correspondence with the pompous buffoons who run the English customs, and if he will pay the exorbitant duty of 93t per cent., he will .one day have his reward. I f he IS wealthy enough, patIent enough, and fond enough. of music, ~e might or?e~ at the same time a Gaghardo by Vmcenzo Gahlel (3-0600), the Finale of Beethoven's First Symphony

(306 39), and the Third Movement and the Finale of Mozart's Symphony in E flat major (3-0596 and 30595)."

When I thus seemed to criticise Landon Ronald's handling of the Fifth Symphony I was unaware of the immense influence he had exerted over the gramophone as a musical instrument, that influence which, on another page of this number, has been so authoritatively explained by Mr. F. W. Gaisberg. However, I very soon did become aware of i t and I have no hesitation in affirming that his faith in the future of orchestral recording inspired one of the most valuable pioneer's trail, that was cut. I look back to that page and a half in the 1922 H.M.V. Catalogue with the long list of orchestral discs played by the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra under Mr. Landon Ronald and recorded on double-sided black 12-inch discs costing 6s. 6d. and recall the hours of delight they gave me in testing the claims of various soundboxes and the thrill of detecting a hitherto undetected instrument. That Fifth Symphony of Beethoven which is mentioned in the paragraph above was the first re-recording of a major work in full, and that Nikisch rendering of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has remained for several years the only complete major work in the catalogues. Landon Ronnld had never been allowed as I remember more than a couple of discs into which he would have to compress such works as Grieg's piano concerto, so that naturally he chose for recording as many shorter orchestral works as he could find. He certainly sacrificed his personal career as a conductor to the advancement of musical taste in this country and we owe him a gratitude that cannot be over-estimated . He was a man of great personal charm and with all the humour which has been so prodigally granted to the J ewish race, that humour which has preserved their vita lity through centuries of persecution . He was one of the first to welcome and encourage THE GRAMOPHONE and surprised me greatly one day at the Savoy by letting me know that h e read every word of i t every month. I thought at the time i t was a piece of kindly and