Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brahms: Symphony No. 1 (Ormandy)

The Extended Play (EP) record, a 45-rpm record capable of carrying up to eight minutes per side of music, was introduced by RCA Victor in 1952, and other companies quickly jumped on the bandwagon, reissuing material in the new format.  Among these, strangely enough, was Columbia, who initially showed antipathy to the 45-rpm record - perhaps not surprisingly, since the company began marketing a 7-inch 33-rpm record for single issues at the same time as it put LPs on the market, and only began replacing these with 45s at the end of 1950.  Columbia's first EPs were all single-record issues of pops and short classical works, but during 1953 the company quietly reissued several dozen sets of the most popular symphonic, concerto and operatic recordings in its back catalogue on EP, including this one:

Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recorded November 5, 1950
Columbia Masterworks A-1089, three 45-rpm Extended Play records
Link (FLAC files, 113.01 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 77.32 MB)

This was the first of three recordings that Ormandy and his Philadelphians were to make of this symphony; both of the others were also for Columbia, and in stereo.  This EP set may not be the optimal way to hear it - Columbia's 45-rpm records were manufactured from polystyrene rather than vinyl for almost their entire existence - and it didn't last long in the catalogue, but these classical EP sets are fun, and I've included the inner leaves of the triple gatefold cover, containing 4 pages of Columbia's EP advertising, as JPG files.


  1. The so interesting early recordings under Ormandy are too much forgotten....a real pity because sometimes they are different from the 'regular' ones he made after.....MANY THX for that excellent post.

  2. Thanks for this (and the Schumann Second Symphony). I agree with Centuri; Ormandy's earlier recordings are usually very different from his later takes on the same pieces. Quite often they crackle with a fire that later performance -- however gorgeous many of them are - don't share.