Monday, October 17, 2011

Albert Coates' 1923 Beethoven Ninth

This was one of my most popular uploads when I offered it before, back in November 2007, with over 300 hits.  It's the fabled acoustical recording of the Beethoven Ninth, by that great recording pioneer, Albert Coates (1882-1953).  I must say at the outset that the sound quality is not optimal - my source is a second-, possibly third-generation cassette dub sent to me by Frank Forman in 2003, but it's quite listenable, and gives some idea of what the recorders in 1923 were able to accomplish with an orchestra of 39 players and a mighty chorus of eight!  Frank's tape had, as a filler, short pieces by Liadov and Debussy that I also transferred, as a separate upload.

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125
Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Albert Coates
Recorded in October and November, 1923
HMV D 842 through 849, eight 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 140.4 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 69.13 MB)

Liadov: Kikimora - Orchestral Fairy Tale, Op. 63
Debussy: Golliwog's Cakewalk (from "Children's Corner")
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates
Recorded October 28, 1921, and April 25, 1922
HMV D 620, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC files, 16.74 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 8.24 MB)

A month after posting these, I posted the following additional early recording by Albert Coates:

Strauss: Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates
Recorded April 27 and May 11, 1923
HMV D 743 and 744, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 49.45 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 18.92 MB)

This posting represented the first in a long series of transfers of acoustically-recorded major symphonic and chamber works.  I had amassed quite a collection of these - some 150 discs - by 2003, mostly through various dealers (among them Raymond Glaspole, Dave Canfield, Peter Fülöp and others), when I was forced to dispose of most of my 78 collection.  Fortunately, a friend and fellow collector had the foresight to ensure that most of these very rare acoustical sets wound up in his hands, so that I was able to borrow them back for the purpose of making these transfers.

Finally, an electrical recording by Mr. Coates that I first offered in 2009, when his birthday (April 23) was being celebrated by various RMCR denizens:

Bach (orch. Esser): Toccata in F, BWV 540
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates
Recorded February 18, 1932
Victor 11468, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 24.70 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 9.35 MB)


  1. I'm surprised no-one's commented at all on this treasure-hoard! I'd heard Coates's electrical recording, but thank you enormously for giving me the chance of hearing the earlier version! And despite your fears the transfer still conveys the performance well (with obvious limitations in the finale!) I especially loved the opening - that mystical chord emerging quietly through the background fizzing, truly magical! (And I'm still trying to figure out how Coates makes the scherzo sound enormously fast & energetic, while the movement runs rather slower than many!)

    The Seidler-Winkler is also a treat, perhaps even a bigger treat. In case you or other readers haven't spotted it, there is a copy on YouTube now (so not the best sound quality!) of the whole symphony, and you even get to watch the needle travelling serenely over the surface of the records as it plays - the perfect virtual gramophone?

    Thaks again for this & all the other treasures discovered & still to be discovered!

    1. Have now moved the Seidler-Winkler to its own post since I found a complete copy. Belated thanks for the YouTube tip; I was completely unaware of it before you mentioned it. The same channel has Seidler-Winkler's Beethoven Fifth, issued at the same time.

  2. i have the entire set in old victor records set and album I found at a sale, wonder if set has any vale no scratches on records look very near mint.
    Has RCA Dog on each record going to list on Ebay records are in a green album.

    1. Are the Victor labels red or blue? Blue labels would be the 1923 version, red would be the 1926. The 1923 version is much rarer than the 1926.

  3. Bryan, great collection. Thank you!

  4. Dear Bryan.I have this set recorded in 1929.The records are in mint condition and the label with His master's voice is brown and is made in England.Can you tell me which is the value of this 8 records set.
    Than you