1906 Boston Symphony Recording Surfaces

Classic Arts News   1906 Boston Symphony Recording Surfaces
 
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has unearthed what is believed to be its earliest recording: a pop ditty called The Kerry Dance, made by four BSO trombonists in 1906, reports The Boston Globe.

Not much is known about the recording sessions that led to The Kerry Dance, which is probably named after the county in Ireland, according to the paper. Three of the players — Carl Hampe, August Mausebach and Leroy Kenfield — were longtime members of the BSO. It's unclear who the fourth trombonist was.

The record came to the attention of Douglas Yeo, a longtime BSO trombonist, two years ago; he was contacted by Florida resident Howard Knapp, a trombone player and record collector who had bought The Kerry Dance on eBay for $30. He wrote to Yeo, a respected music scholar, to see if he could track down the names of the BSO's trombone section in 1906, according to the Globe.

Yeo wasn't aware of the historical significance of the recording until he was contacted by a WGBH producer who had been leafing through the Victor discography and saw a reference to the quartet's session.

The historical importance of the recording then came to light. "I'm hoping when people hear this, they'll realize that these four players are not just making a difference in the musical life of Boston or New England, they're making musical history," Yeo told the Globe.

The work was played on WGBH radio last week.

The recordings are an exciting discovery, New York music historian Joseph Horowitz, the author of Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall, told the paper. "This is a period when Boston was the preeminent orchestra in the country. So anything that brings attention to that period is of intense interest. It's a time capsule, a window on another time that was a glorious time for symphonic music in Boston."


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