There was a sizeable number of 78s which included the Gieseking Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Furtwängler’s Beethoven’s Fifth & Tchaikovsky Pathétique (although as a youngster I found the first and last movements both tragic and scary), Egon Petri’s Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto, Rawicz and Landauer arrangements of Mendelssohn, Isobel Baillie and Kathleen Ferrier duets, Ketèlbey conducting G&S, the Trumpet Voluntary, and D’Oyly Carte G&S acoustic and early electric HMV recordings.
It was a long time before the family invested in stereo but we owned all the Decca D’Oyly Cartes and several Decca LXTs (I vividly remember Knappertsbusch Wagner orchestral pieces, one of many we later swapped for the Decca Ace of Clubs pressings, and Ansermet’s Scheherazade and Prince Igor Dances) plus a few Klemperer and Karajan mono Columbias.
Gradually our collection was bolstered by numerous Decca Ace of Clubs (ACL) and Concert Hall Record Club LPs as well as the HMV Concert Classics series (XLP) and to judge by requests I receive to seek out older recordings there is a sizeable number of collectors nostalgic for these early reissues. (If that sounds like you, you can find many examples to buy in our latest catalogue, or if it’s easier, just contact me and I’ll search them out for you.)
As my interest in opera increased we collected Ferenc Fricsay’s Mozart operas on DGG – possibly because of the luxurious packaging but still among my favourite versions – with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Ernst Haefliger, Josef Greindl, Maria Stader, Rita Streich, Irmgard Seefried et al and after seeing Welsh National Opera perform Barber of Seville, Vittorio Gui’s ‘Glyndebourne’ recording on HMV Angel with Victoria De Los Angeles, Luigi Alva, Ian Wallace and Sesto Bruscantini became a much-played favourite.
Lastly there was a box of EPs, mainly on Decca, DGG, Columbia, HMV and Pye – dominated by the names Sir John Barbirolli (my first Chabrier piece was his version of Joyeuse marche which I later reissued on Magdalen, coupled with Stars and Stripes Forever and Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor overture), Fritz Lehmann (Mozart overtures, Rosamunde), Tito Gobbi (Otello and Barber of Seville), Jussi Björling (Tosca and Turandot), Ferdinand Leitner (Rossini overtures, Wagner choruses).
Through listening to these almost obsessively I built up a decent but precocious knowledge of well-known pieces but did not grow up totally ignorant of non-classical music: I was equally fond of Lonnie Donegan (My Old Man’s a Dustman, Jack o’ Diamonds), Johnnie Duncan (Last Train to San Fernando), Chris Barber (Petite Fleur & Mountains of Mourne), Max Bygraves (I’m a Pink Toothbrush), Danny Kaye’s Hans Christian Andersen & Tubby the Tuba, Flanders and Swann, Tom Lehrer and lastly, four Black and White Minstrel Show records (which, for all their un-PCness today, gave me an excellent grounding in show tunes!).
If anyone has similar memories of record collections they grew up with, do feel free to comment