Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Gallery of Steinweiss Covers, Part 1

No links to sound files in this post - sorry!  In my last post I stated my intention to devote an entire entry to those wonderful Alex Steinweiss covers for Columbia Masterworks 78 sets.  Since writing that, I have discovered a marvelous blog, Collecting Record Covers, which is in the process of systematiclly putting up scans of all the Steinweiss covers, classical and popular, that the blogger, who specializes in collecting record covers, owns.  And this blogger owns a lot of them - far more than I!  So, in these posts I will merely fill in the gaps that I perceive, all scanned from albums in my own possession.

Steinweiss, as many of you may know, was the art director at Columbia from 1939 through the 40s, and in this capacity designed over 300 covers for the Masterworks series alone (along with quite a few for the Popular and Children's series).  His first Masterworks cover appears to be that for Set M-415, "Music of Victor Herbert" conducted by Kostelanetz, which appeared in 1940 (this is pictured at the above-mentioned blog, in a far better scan than I could manage).  There were, of course, earlier-numbered sets for which his cover designs exist, but they seem to have all been reissues of sets that had previously appeared with plain generic covers.  Here are two of those:

The Mahler was originally released in 1937, the Fauré early in 1939.  Steinweiss's designs date from c. 1943-44.

In the early years of his work for Columbia, Steinweiss appears to have focused on designing covers for the Popular sets; relatively few of the Masterworks sets numbered in the M-400's (roughly, 1940 to 1942) have his designs.  By the time the series hit M-500, however, a majority of the Masterworks sets were carrying his designs, and, from roughly M-550 to MM-700 (1945-47), almost all of them did.  Here are a couple from late 1942:

This cover for the 10-inch set of Schumann "Frauenliebe und Leben" isn't signed by Steinweiss, and therefore may not be his, but the Mendelssohn "Scotch" Symphony definitely is.  Both date from 1943:

And here are two from 1945 (the Lily Pons set is another 10-inch set):

To be continued....


  1. Excellent scans, Bryan, thank you so much!


  2. Outstanding Bryan! I'm glad you shared these. I especially like the Shostakovich with that clenched socialist fist!


  3. Thanks, Bryan - I enjoyed the covers. Also grateful for the link!