The Story of the Orchestras, Conductors, and Soloists of Both Record Sets
The Brochures of both the Basic Library and The Standard Treasury state that "We have agreed not to reveal these renowned artists because some of them are under exclusive contract with major record companies in the retail field." Turns out as we will find at the bottom of this page, the real reason for the anonymity is that the Standard Reference Works Publishing Company did not have the rights to the original recordings.
The origin of the recordings in these record sets has been a mystery for a number of decades. Thanks to the efforts of David Gideon of www.rediscovery.us (has free downloads of some of the music from master stereo reel-to-reel tapes) and Raymond Tuttle, reviewer at www.classical.net (who has several posts on Musical Mysteries), David Patmore of the U.K., John Waitee, Jerome Weber, and last, but not least, Dr. David Josefowitz (more on him below).
The following is a summary of the information that is of the greatest interest. Afterwards, there is a very detailed account of all of the information that I have found; more for the extreme enthusiast.
Major record companies, such as Decca (U.K.), RCA, Columbia, and EMI have always dominated the record market using retail stores. But there are other ways to market classical recordings. In the late 1950's, records were sold in super market grocery stores, one record per week to create an entire collection. In the 1960's, Longines Symphonette sold through the mail. In the 1970's, Time-Life took this up very successfully, by general collections, as well as specialized collections (works of Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner's Ring) by mail.
Below, are photos of a typical later Schwann Catalog, referred to in the section below it. This was a bible of sources of Classical Music from all of the major retail record labels. Of course the Basic Library and the Standard Treasury are never mentioned in this catalog.
David and Samuel Josefowitz
The origins of vinyl records and the grocery store record sets traces back to David and Sam Josefowitz. They were born in Lithuania, and in 1938, left Europe for America, where they both studied chemistry and chemical engineering. David was involved in improving the process to manufacture vinyl, which they realized could be used to make unbreakable records. Shellac had been used, and records were easily broken. Vinyl would allow records to be safely shipped through the mails. David was also a musician, organizing concerts at the M.I.T., and studying violin at the New England Conservatory of Music. In Boston he befriended William Schwann, creator of the monthly Schwann Record Catalog, which only listed major retail labels. From Boston the brothers moved to New York where Sam met Harry Abrams, who was a manager with "The Book of the Month Club"; which gave them ideas for starting the mail order "Concert Hall Society". They developed their own recording, mixing, and mastering systems, and began recording with orchestras in Hilverson (Holland), Winterthur (Switzerland), and Paris, using their musical connections in Europe. They created the concurrent "Musical Masterpieces Society" These recordings were made with excellent local European orchestras, and expert conductors and soloists. These two record clubs did identify the artists involved because the Josefowitz brothers had the rights to the recordings. From the documentation of the CHS and MMS, we now know the artists on "Basic Library" and "The Standard Treasury".
The Concert Hall Society was founded in 1946 by David and Sam Josefowitz, when professional reel-to-reel tape recorders were just beginning to be available. Ampex's first audio recorder, the model 200, came out in 1947 for $5000 each (a mid-range Cadillac was $3,000). The Concert Hall Society recordings were made in the late 1940's and the 1950's. They were experimenting with multi-channel sound very early in the 50's, and that’s why many of the Basic Library recordings did turn up in stereo on Concert-Hall reel tapes (and later on LPs, though they didn’t sound nearly as good as the reel tapes). These may have been some of the very earliest records based upon tape recording, compared to earlier real-time direct-to-disk wax record mastering. The Remington Records recordings were made beginning at about the same time and into the early 1960's.
The list of known artists are...
- Beethoven: Egmont Overture - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond.
- Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond.
- Bizet: Suite "Carmen" #1 - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond.
- Borodin: Prince Igor: Polovetsian Dances - Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, Paul Hupperts, Cond.
- Brahms: Violin Concerto in D Maj. - West Austrian Radio Orchestra, Hans Moltkau, Cond., Peter Rybar, Violinist
- Brahms: Symphony #1 - Frankfurt Opera Orchestra, Carl Bamberger, Cond.
- Brahms: Symphony #4 - Royal Danish Orchestra, John Frandsen, Cond.
- Chopin: Concerto for Piano #1 in E minor - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond., Noel Mewton-Wood, piano.
- Dvorak: Symphony #5 (9) in E minor "From the New World" - Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, Otto Ackermann, Cond.
- Grieg: Concerto for Piano in A minor - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond., Grant Johannesen, piano.
- Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite #1- Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond.
- Liszt: Les Preludes - Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, Paul Hupperts, Cond.
- MacDowell: Concerto for Piano #2 in D minor - Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Henry Swoboda, Cond., Alexander Jenner, piano
- Mendelssohn: The Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave) - Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond.
- Mozart: Symphony #40 in G minor - Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Henry Swoboda, Cond.
- Rimsky-Korsakoff: Schéhérazade - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond.
- Rossini: Overture "The Barber of Seville" - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Alexander Kraanhals, Cond.
- Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond., Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
- Smetana: The Moldau - Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, Paul Hupperts, Cond.
- Strauss: Death and Transfiguration - Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, Ignace Neumark, Cond.
- Stravinsky: Firebird Suite - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond.
- Tchaikovsky: Concerto for Piano #1 in B Flat Major - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond., Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
- Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite - Hamburg Radio Orchestra/(Hans-) Jürgen Walther, Cond.
- Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr, Cond., Ricardo Odnoposoff, Violin
- Tchaikovsky: Symphony #6 "Pathétique" - unknown orchestra, Otto Ackermann, Cond.
- Vivaldi: Concerto for 2 Trumpets & Orchestra in C Major - Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, Otto Ackermann, Cond., H. Sevenstern and F. Hausdorfer, Violin
Gallery of the Music Artists
Pronunciation of the Artists
I have put the phonetic pronunciation of the Basic Library and Standard Treasury artists in this section, apart from our web page on Pronunciation, because I want to keep it with the photos and biographies.
Phonetic Pronunciation shown as [xxx]. A middle dot "·" within a syllable separates phonetic words, but the whole is still one syllable. An apostrophe indicates an accent, except when there are quotes. The quotes are the major accent, and the apostrophe is a minor accent. My phonetics may not be technically perfect, but you WILL sound very good to the natives.
Biographical Notes on the Music Artists
Walter Goehr [Ger] (1903-1960) Born in Berlin, studied with Arnold Schoenberg, moved to London in 1937 to become Music Director for EMI records. Conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Taught composition and conducting in London. Later worked for Columbia Records and conducted the BBC Theatre Orchestra; was a skilled arranger.
Otto Ackermann [Ah'-kur-mahn] (1909-1960) Born in Bucharest, he conducted the Royal Romanian Opera when he was only 15. Had many Operatic Appointments and recorded extensively all over Europe. Was a close friend of Franz Lehar, and recorded his operettas for Columbia.
Henry Swoboda [S·voh-bow'-dah] (1897-1990) He was a Czeck conductor and Musicologist; and made many recordings for the Westminster label, and was conductor with Radio Prague. He was a guest Professor at UCLA from 1931-1939, when he immigrated to the US.
Paul Hupperts (1919-1999) Born in the Netherlands, he conducted and recorded extensively during his career. He was the principal conductor of the Utrechts Stedelijk Orkest from 1949 to 1978.
Ignace Neumark (1888-1959) [Noy-mark] He was a Dutch-Polish conductor who conducted major orchestras in the Netherlands.
Hans-Juergen Walther (1919-2011) [Yur-gen Val-ter] He was a German conductor with a long career making my recordings, and was conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Hamburg. He had studied conducting in Hamburg.
Carl Bamberger (1902-1987) Born in Vienna, he came to the US in the mid-1930's. He taught at the Mannes School of Music in New York, and conducted for the New York City Opera and the New York Philharmonic. He made many recordings in Europe.
Noel Mewton-Wood (1922-1953) He was an Australian-born concert pianist who achieved international fame on the basis of many distinguished concerto recordings. When only 31, Mewton-Wood committed suicide by drinking prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide), apparently blaming himself for the death from a ruptured appendix of William Fedrick, his lover, feeling he had overlooked the early symptoms.
Alexander Jenner (1929- ) In 1949, Viennese pianist Alexander Jenner won the "Bösendorfer-Preisflügel", awarded to the best student of that year graduating from the Vienna "Musikakademie", where he had studied for almost 10 years. This fact and early performances put him in the limelight.
Grant Johannesen [Yo-hahn'-e-sen] (1921-2005) Born in Salt Lake City, he studied with Robert Casadesus, Egon Petri, Roger Sessions, and Nadia Boulanger. He won the Concours International when he was 28. He toured with the New York Philharmonic, and as a solo performer. His performances in Moscow were especially well received. He was once encored 16 times. He recorded the complete piano works of Gabriel Fauré. He was director of the Cleveland Institute of Music from 1974 to 1985, and frequent soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Utah Symphony.
Ricardo Odnoposoff [Ode-no-poe'-so·ff] (1914-2004) He was a Jewish Argentine violinist, and concertmaster of the Vienna State Opera and Vienna Philharmonic. He became a citizen of the United States. studied violin under Carl Flesch and composition under Paul Hindemith. At the end of his studies, at the age of just 17, he first appeared as a soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Erich Kleiber. Many of his photographs reflect the great joy that lay behind his playing.
Peter Rybar (1913-2002) He was a Czech-Swiss violinist who taught first at the Conservatory of Winterthur and then at the Conservatoire de Genève. Most of Rybar's recordings were produced by The Concert Hall Society, Westminster, and Le Chant du Monde.
The master reel-to-reel tapes used for the following two record clubs (who had rights to the recordings) were the also the source of the music for the Basic Library of the World's Greatest Music and The Standard Treasury of the World's Great Music (whose principals apparently did not have the rights to the tapes).
The Josefowitz brothers also owned the following record clubs in Europe and other countries around the world:
- Edition Limitée
- Musikalische Meisterwerke Serie
- Muzikale Meesterwerken Serie
A Full Page Ad from a Popular Magazine from 1954 Shows How the Musical Masterpiece Society records were Marketed
A partial page advertisement for the earlier Concert Hall Society from a Popular Magazine - 1951
What happened to David and Sam Josefowitz in their later years?
They both became very wealthy from selling their recordings and books in many countries around the world. They were able to acquire large collections of art, and donate them to notable museums. David, the musician of the pair, had a long career of conducting.
(1918-2015) David has died aged 96, was a chemist, violinist, conductor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who founded mail-order record companies, set up the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, paid for a recital hall at the Royal Academy of Music and established an art foundation. Through his wartime PhD research into vinyl materials Josefowitz had been involved in the genesis of the long-playing record, and in 1946 he and his younger brother Sam started the Concert Hall Record Club in New York. Having lived in Switzerland since the 1950s, Josefowitz moved to London in 1980, where he ran his orchestra. By the time the company was sold in 1981, Josefowitz was a rich man. Through the Fridart Foundation, which the family set up in 1960, he bought paintings by artists such as Rodin and Matisse , as well as violins, cellos and violas by Stradivarius. In 2002 the foundation lent £150 million of art to the Courtauld Institute, while in 1999 six valuable instruments were provided to the Royal Academy of Music. The David Josefowitz Recital Hall at the Academy, a barrel-vaulted room with seating for up to 150, was opened in 2001 and won several awards. He enjoyed laying on post-concert dinners in his Knightsbridge apartment or organising chamber music evenings in Gstaad, Switzerland. For his 80th birthday he brought together his children, grandchildren and others to perform The Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns. Josefowitz, who was appointed CBE in 2006, is survived by his wife Tanya Kagan, an artist, and two daughters. Another daughter predeceased him.
Nov. 18, 1998 - Indianapolis Museum Buys 30 Gauguins From Swiss Collector
Eli Lilly Foundation purchase of paintings from Sam Josefowitz.
Mr. Josefowitz, who was born in Lithuania, is a former chemical engineer who made his fortune as a co-founder of mail-order book and record clubs in 21 countries.
Sam Josefowitz Obituary
JOSEFOWITZ--Samuel, passed away peacefully on July 30, 2015 at the age of 93. Beloved father of Nina Josefowitz Myran and the late Paul Josefowitz. Dear father- in-law of David and Ellen. Loving brother of Rachel Siegel and the late Rose Choron, David Josefowitz and Fenia Oren. Adoring grandfather of Laura, Nicholas, Aaron and Daniel. He had a full and loving life and will be missed by family and friends.
The Continuing Story of the Tapes Used For These Record Sets
I have been exchanging e-mails with David Gideon of www.rediscovery.us, which has free downloads of some of this music. He has acquired some stereo reel-to-reel tapes from The Concert Hall Society, which are the original recordings on the Basic Library and the Standard Treasury. I greatly appreciate his information which he is providing to me and to you.
Hi David, I know that the Lee Lambert** cassette tapes were mastered with mono reel-to-reel from a mint set of original records. You claim stereo downloads or CDsl does this mean that you have acquired some of the original stereo reel-to-reel tapes that the Josefowitz brothers made? I have a lot of information on the Basic Library on my web site, and I would like to have this information to add to it. Any additions to the story from your standpoint would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for helping to keep this music alive. Best regards, Gary L. Sanders
**On the Basic Library main page, near the bottom, there is an article about Lee Lambert who made and sold cassette tapes of the Basic Library more than 20 years after the Basic Library was introduced.
Yes we have acquired quite a few of the stereo reel tapes and made our masters from them. The downloads are all free; give them a listen. We weren’t able to find stereo reels for all the titles in the BL but we did for quite a few of them and they sound pretty good!
PS: Interesting point: David Josefowitz had no idea that the Basic Library was made up of his Concert Hall Society recordings! Apparently someone involved with-Collier (who had US rights to Concert Hall Society) left that company and formed a new outfit [The Standard Reference Works Publishing Co.] that produced the Basic Library (and one other similarly titled grocery store series[The Standard Treasury]). He just happened to have the Concert Hall tapes from the Collier’s days, and after putting out some devious PR about non-existent recording sessions for the Basic Library, went ahead and used the Concert Halls without telling anyone. David Josefowitz didn’t know about it until I asked him a few years ago!
Here is the Billboard announcement for Bouree Productions, the company that pretended to record the Basic Library sessions but actually used Concert Hall tapes. Note that one of the execs, George Simon, was a producer for Crowell-Collier (who distributed Concert Hall recordings in the US), while another of the execs, Fred Grunfeld, was engineering chief for Concert Hall. So they both had access to Concert Hall tapes and obviously took advantage of it.
NOTE: Tina Louise later played the movie star "Ginger" on the 60's TV comedy Gilligan's Island.
[ Note from Me as Editor: The first article above clearly shows that Bouree Productions involved Simon and Silver who had access to the Concert Hall reel-to-reel tapes. The second article, 1½ years later, clearly shows that Bouree claimed to have made new recordings for the Basic Library and the Standard Treasury. This was the decoy so that people wouldn't suspect copyright infringement when they simply used the Concert Hall tapes. Now back to David Gideon ... ]
There are notes included with the downloads. As our series progressed more and more info was uncovered so you may spot some info in there you don’t already have on your very comprehensive website.
P.S. I have a few LPs from the Webster Library and the packaging is almost identical to the Standard Treasury. Only the recordings (all taken from Remington sources) are different, and inferior. I think the same companies produced the packaging for Standard Treasury and Webster Library, even though the recordings were made by different companies. Similarly the boxy Basic Library packaging was replicated by the Philharmonic Family Library, though their bright red boxes tended to look a little snazzier than the dull green of the Basic Lib.
ME as Editor
Now we know why the orchestras, conductors, and soloists were not mentioned in the Basic Library or the Standard Treasury. This was the first time, in 1958, that these music recordings were used without permission of the owners of the copyrights. This is also why Lee Lambert was able to copyright the recordings and Listener Guides.
The Concert Hall Society and the Music Masterpiece Society did have permissions from the Josefowitz brothers to produce their recordings.
Both E. Alan Silver and George T. Simon mentioned in the article were also listed as contributors to the Basic Library and Standard Treasury Listener Guides; they are the only ones without Classical Music credentials, hmmm.
Both record sets state, "We have agreed not to reveal the names of these renowned artists because some of them are under exclusive contract to major record companies in the retail field." Well, the real reason is that these were apparently illegal bootleg recordings, and few people knew it. Now this is amazing!
This is also why the records were so inexpensive, and still made money for the principals. They were easily competing with RCA, Columbia, London, Capitol, EMI, and many other labels. This is certainly unfair competition, but, it did allow a lot of people and families to learn about classical music, including Me; and this was a worthy cause. The argument that making the Basic Library and Standard Treasury cheaply, which introduced more people to Classical Music, thereby creating a larger market for the Retail record companies, has some merit, but that doesn't make it right.