Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Symphonies from Sir Landon

Back in 2008 I posted three acoustically-recorded symphonies conducted by the Gramophone Company's "house conductor," Sir Landon Ronald (1873-1937).  Actually, he wasn't yet "Sir" when the first of these was made (he was knighted in 1922):

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 ("From the New World")
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, conducted by Landon Ronald
Recorded November 1, 1919, and September 8 & November 29, 1921
HMV D 536, 537, 587 and 613, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 90.14 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 33.38 MB)

All movements are cut except the Scherzo, and I've spelled out the cuts in detail, in a text file accompanying the download.  As of July, 2010, this had proven my most popular download, with Mediafire calculating 545!  Sir Landon did re-record the "New World" electrically, and complete, in 1927.  This is available from Historic Recordings, in Damian's fine transfer.

Landon Ronald's next recording of a symphony was of Beethoven's Fifth, a work that holds the distinction of being the symphony recorded complete the most times during the acoustic era.  Ronald's version is the fifth, after Friedrich Kark's for Odeon (in 1910), Artur Nikisch's for Deutsche Grammophon (1913), Josef Pasternack's for Victor (completed in 1917) and François Ruhlmann's for Pathé (of unknown date, but surely before 1922):

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, conducted by Sir Landon Ronald
Recorded in September and October, 1922
Victor Blue Label 55250 through 55253, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 95.07 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 37.89 MB)

I have the original album, a handsome "Music Arts Library of Victor Records" production, and I have included JPEGs of each sleeve, on each of which are printed liner notes in a florid style characteristic of the time.

Ronald also re-recorded the Beethoven Fifth electrically.  He did not, however, re-record the Tchaikovsky "Pathétique" (this job fell to Albert Coates):

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 ("Pathétique")
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, conducted by Sir Landon Ronald
Recorded in January, May and June, 1923
Victor Blue Label 55240 through 55244, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 123.66 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 42.7 MB)

Sir Landon made two further acoustical recordings of symphonies: the Schubert "Unfinished" (a complete version of 1923 to replace an abridged version of 1912), and the Brahms Second.  The latter can be heard at the CHARM website.  He also made the first electrical recording of a symphony: Tchaikovsky's Fourth (which, again, is available in Damian's transfer at Historic Recordings).


  1. Thank You So Much

  2. I think Landon Ronald is underestimated, as a dirigent I think he is f.i. from the level of Piero Coppola in France - and one of the real pioneers of acoustical recordings of orchestral repertoire. thanks a lot!

  3. I was surprised by how good this version of the Beethoven 5th was! I am now turning to the others here, to see if he is consistently as good :-) Thank you for the opportunity to explore these acoustic recordings! If you have Pasternack or Ruhlmann's Beethoven as well, I would love to hear those too - well, it's worth asking ;-)

    1. David, Ruhlmann's Beethoven 5 can be downloaded from here, thanks to Bill Anderson:

      FLAC - http://www.mediafire.com/?u741heuaiz6wmlf
      MP3 - http://www.mediafire.com/?aklwvfbp6cevl4a

      The Library of Congress' National Jukebox (see my links at the right) has Pasternack's of just the first and third movements.

    2. Thanks Bryan - fantastic! I am downloading eagerly. (I assume you have spotted the 1920s Beethoven 5 & 9 by Seidler-Winkler on YouTube? Not audiophile quality but at least it is possible to get a fair impression of his approach. I must say I felt Sir Landon did better, and I hope that's not just British patriotism..)

    3. PS For anyone else who wants it may I just add this link to Matthias Arter's site which adds Pasternack's 4th movement to the other 2 (but only in 128kbps): http://www.marterart.ch

    4. No, I missed those Seidler-Winklers! Thanks for calling my attention to them. The Ninth turned up on a Japanese Wing CD some years ago, but in a really awful transfer - this YouTubed version actually sounds better.

  4. Dear Bryan

    Missed you had already done this as I made another transfer on my blog Fluff on the Needle


    1. Quite alright Jols - yours is probably better anyway. Never was 100% pleased with mine and I no longer have the records to attempt a redo!

  5. Thanks, Bryan, another addition to my discovery of historical recordings.