Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The First Electrical Beethoven Ninth (Weingartner, 1926)

Just in time for Beethoven's birthday later this week, here is the first electrical recording of what is, for many (myself included), his greatest symphony.  It features the London Symphony Orchestra, with chorus, conducted by Felix Weingartner, and a solo quartet consisting of Miriam Licette, Muriel Brunskill, Hubert Eisdell and Harold Williams.  The vocal portions are sung in English, as they are on Albert Coates' two recordings of the Ninth - the acoustical one of 1923 which I posted earlier, and the electrical one dating from seven months later than Weingartner's:

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 ("Choral")
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Felix Weingartner,
with soloists and chorus
Recorded March 16 and 17, 1926
Columbia Masterworks Set No. 39, eight 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 154.21 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 68.98 MB)

I had a request for this recording when I posted Weingartner's acoustical recordings of Beethoven and Brahms last month. Although I was a little leery of attempting a transfer, given the rather worn condition of the records, nevertheless they cleaned up better than I had any reason to hope, and so I offer my transfer here.  Happy Beethoven's Birthday, everyone!


  1. Thanks for this fine performance. (If only they hadn't used the awkward English text ...) I'll gladly accept your occasional remnants of disc wear for the greater detail and texture compared to the only other transfer I have (on Lys 190) which is cleaner, yet dull and muffled by comparison.

  2. Great! Thanks for this 1926 Weingartner.

  3. Many thanks for this fine transfer of this very rare recording.

    This was quite a technical feat to record this work in 1926. They managed to obtain a satisfactory result with reduced dynamics. This is a more lively performance than the later one.

    The first London Ninth in German was with Furtwängler and the Berliner Philharmoniker for the Coronation season in 1937. The Philharmonic Choir (conductor Charles Kennedy Scott) learned the German version especially for the occasion.

  4. Thank you for Your work! This is just great!!!

  5. Bryan -

    Thank you for this significant document...I have a decades old LP issue from Japan, but IMO your transfer is more immediate and listenable. Great project!

  6. Great transfer, it's really enjoyable to listen to. I wish I could say the same for the 2 male soloists & the English text; I quite like them in other recordings they made where they just don't sound so out of place, but here, and with that text ... Aaargh! I must go back & listen to the 2 Coates recordings; I don't recall having that reaction to one of his sets of soloists, but I can't recall which!

    Nevertheless it is a great pleasure to hear the 1st electrical recording, and to put it alongside the Coates acoustic & electrical - and other early 9ths in German which you & others have made available. Words are inadequate to say a proper thank you!

  7. Thanks very much for this. I'm not a musician, but the older performances appeal to me in ways the later ones don't. Weingartner strikes me as very detail-oriented. Individual phrases stand out - just his - or Beethoven's with his take on them - but right! To me he starts of cold, but whips it like a Vitamixer (c) by the end. How's that for unmusical musical criticism?! Thanks so much! Your transfers are great!

  8. Hi,

    I have that record columbia rec. Made in England L1775 in pristine condition and Scubert "Forellen" by Albert Coates L 2098 in Mint condition and I'm willing to sell it. Can you tell me how and where?

  9. Regarding L1775 and L2098 columbia records and HMV D1190-1194 you can contact me at my email: and I can send you images