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Thomas Edison’s Wagner Recordings

February 7, 2015 - 9:00 am

Believe it or not, many of the first of Thomas Edison’s two minute cylinder recordings were of opera singers. Many of the first issues were oriented toward recording Wagner, in spite of the duration restrictions of the cylinders. It seems that Edison had hopes of exploiting an untapped commercial market in America. Wagnerian opera was immensely popular at the Metropolitan Opera during the early 20th century and was also gaining wider exposure due to their national tours. Tours featured productions of Parsifal, Tannhäuser and the Ring.

Our guest speaker is Jeffrey McMillan who has been researching the Edison cylinders supported by a grant from the Association of Recorded Sound Collections. This research has so far led to several significant discoveries including the exact dates and locations of the Edison recordings. McMillan will present his findings and discuss how the National Phonograph Company’s cylinders compliment the overall history of Wagner singing in America before the Great War. Edison focused on tenors as has McMillan’s research. We will hear about the American careers of Heinrich Knote, Andreas Dippel and the most peculiar caree of them all, Alois Burgstaller. A product of Bayreuth training and the advocacy of cosima Wagner, Burgstaller sang exclusively Wagnerian roles throughout his career.

Jeffrey McMillan holds a graduate degree in Jazz History and Research and served as an archivist of the Metropolitan Opera for 10 years. Now based in the Bay Area, McMillan continues his work as a consultant to the Met, as a freelance writer and as Managing Editor of the peer reviewed Journal of Jazz Studies. He currently serves as the Executive Administrator for American Bach Soloists.

Members – Free of Charge

Guests are welcome for a $10 donation


February 7, 2015
9:00 am

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