Saturday, December 3, 2016

Stravinsky from Concert Hall

A few months ago, Nick Morgan tipped me off not only to the existence of this LP, but to its availability on ebay at a quite reasonable price. (Thanks, Nick!) In December, 1954, when the record was released, it must have seemed the height of chutzpah for a relatively small record label like Concert Hall, with a little-known orchestra and conductor, to challenge major labels like RCA Victor and Mercury, who had the only available recordings of Stravinsky's Danses Concertantes and Dumbarton Oaks, respectively, conducted by Stravinsky himself! And quite creditably, too. For good measure, Concert Hall threw in their recordings, from 78s originally sold by subscription, of the Gordon String Quartet in Stravinsky's complete works for string quartet - which, I have to admit, was the main reason I was interested in this LP:

Stravinsky: Danses Concertantes and Dumbarton Oaks Concerto
Rochester Chamber Orchestra conducted by Robert Hull
Recorded c. 1954
Stravinsky: Three Pieces for String Quartet and Concertino
The Gordon String Quartet (Gordon-Rossi-Dawson-Magg)
Recorded c. 1947
Concert Hall CHS-1229, one LP record
Link (FLAC files, 116.63 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 81.29 MB)

I can find out very little online about the conductor, Robert Hull, and the sleeve-note for the record unobligingly offers no information either, focusing its attention on the orchestra (and advertising its previous releases). It appears that Hull was active also at Cornell University during this period, then went to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1957 to conduct the symphony orchestra there. In the 70s his name turns up as conductor of the Arizona Symphony on several LPs of contemporary music made by very small specialist labels such as Klavier and Laurel.  Jacques Gordon, the leader of the quartet that bears his name, had, sadly, been dead for six years at the time this LP reissued his Stravinsky recordings.


  1. Alternate links:



    1. Dear Bryan, Thanks so much for acting on my tip-off, which as I'm sure you guessed was motivated by interested greed! I'm so looking forward to enjoying your restoration of these recordings. I've just found Hull on, so I hope I'll be able to fill in more details about him - I'll report back when I know more! Best wishes and thanks again, Nick

    2. OK, Robert Leslie Hull:

      born February 11, 1916, the Bronx, NY

      B.Mus., 1939, & M.Mus., 1941, both University of Rochester

      Ph.D., 1945, Cornell University

      Associate Professor, Cornell (dates unknown)

      Married Jeanne Ethel (date unknown); no children?

      Dean of Fine Arts, U. Arizona at Tucson, for the last 15 years or so of his working life

      died February 12, 1999, Tucson

      buried East Lawn Cemetery, Ithaca

      That's it for now...

  2. Hi Bryan,

    I don't know anything about Hull myself, but several years ago I shared a recording that he conducted, also on Concert Hall, of music by Vaughan Williams and Robert Palmer.

    1. Dear Buster, Somehow I missed that earlier post of yours - I'm hotfooting it there now, thank you again for that reminder and for everything! Best wishes, Nick

  3. Looking forward to this, Bryan. Here's my contribution to the Robert Hull archive, a short piece from the January 10, 1949 Cornell Daily Sun. Since copying the link produced a very strange-looking result, here's the text:
    Hull Previews Violin Recital
    Professor Robert Hull of the Cornell Music Department was the guest speaker at the Browsing Library’s reading hour last night, discussed the programs to be given in Bailey Hall Tuesday by violinst Erica Morini. At the outset, Professor Hull stated frankly that he did not like the program. The Bruch G minor concerto, the main work on the program, “is not a great concerto; it is a pleasant concerto', easily listened to,” he stated. Professor Hull then went on to explain that he considers the work over-played, and that he in company with many others would prefer something far more substantial.
    He digressed momentarily to explain some of the elemenatry mechanics of concert contracting, pointing out that many managements do not offer the local impressario a voice in the selection of an artist’s program. Thus he is forced to select a performer rather than a group of compositions he feels would be of interest to his particular audience. Prior to discussing the G minor ■sonata by the eighteenth century Italian composer Tartini, Professor Hull briefly reviewed the physics of the overtone series and the undertone in order to support his contention that Tartini and the other late Baroque masters had a more secure feeling for sonority than any other composers in musical history. This sonata he considers to be “the only work on the program of any real musical substance.” At the end of his talk Professor Hull demonstrated many of the special techniques of the violin.

    1. Thanks so much, fascinating! I get the impression he was quite a high-brow. Late in life, at Tucson, he was also grappling with new technology, pondering the Arts School's need to engage with video...

  4. i appreciate your offerings very much, but not the file host that you use. i am constantly getting a "server load too high, try again later" error message when trying to download your shares. have you considered using one of the more hassle-free and smooth functioning hosts, such as zippyshare, dropzippy, mediafire, mega, etc? i'll keep trying, and hope to eventually be able to download this recording. thank you for your time and generosity.

    1. d'oh! my apologies. i just noticed the added mediafire links. embarrassing. thank you very much

  5. Thank you Nick, Buster, DF and all for your comments and excavation work! Oddly, Hull's dates (1916-1999) are the same as another conductor named Robert - Shaw (who was born two months later, and died one month earlier, than Hull).

    1. My pleasure, Bryan - it's the least I can do in return! A bit like you and PMR (in which I'm currently buried), I'm addicted to Ancestry - I think I might have to sign up to too! All the best, Nick

  6. Thanks a lot for that very rare recording featuring an excellent choice of the works: historical and captivating ! THX also to DF for the precisions regarding Pr Hull.

  7. Perhaps you or your loyal readers (myself generally included) would be interested in this
    if not already found.