Historical woodwind recordings on the National Jukebox

Photo, alexruthmann

The United States Library of Congress’s National Jukebox project makes American recordings from the days before microphones available for streaming online. This is a fantastic resource for recordings—classical, jazz, and more—from the turn of the 20th century until the mid-1920’s.

These recordings are not in the public domain, like you might think; Sony, the owner of the recordings, has given the Library of Congress special permission to stream them.

Naturally, I’ve been searching the National Jukebox for woodwind players, and here are a few of my favorite discoveries. Some of the gems include oddities like the Heckelphone and bass saxophone, and there are a few woodwind doublers in there, too. Take note of how woodwind playing, like recording technology, has changed over the past century!

To kick things off, here’s a nice tour of the woodwind section of the Victor Orchestra in 1912:

Read more

Paul Hindemith and the Trio Op. 47: Steps toward a mature style

Paul Hindemith was born in Hanau, Germany, in 1895. Unlike most of his composer contemporaries, who came from the privileged classes, his origins were humble ones.

Hindemith’s father, Robert, was a manual laborer and amateur zither player, who, despite a necessarily tight budget, saw that Paul and his siblings received musical training. Robert Hindemith raised his children with strict discipline, especially in terms of their music education. He took them to the local opera house, often on foot, and quizzed them on the way home, rewarding unsatisfactory answers with spankings. Later, Herr Hindemith organized his children into the Frankfurt Children’s Trio. Guy Rickards suggests that it was “despite” this “exploitative” upbringing that Paul and his brother Rudolf both went on to successful musical careers.

Read more