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Thread: Mandolin recordings of note

  1. #1
    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    In my 21 years of collecting mandolin 78s, this is the first of Bickford's recordings that I've seen come up for sale. I was going to keep quiet about it, but it's already out of my price range... The starting price was not that high before there were any bids, so I'm not sure how it got to be that high, odd amount with only one bidder.

    If any of you snag it, let me know.

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    Neil, if you make me a decent copy (cd, dvd or other) of everything you got, I'll buy this for you Seriously, I'd bid if he was playing mandolin or if with Foden on guitar. There are still 8 days left...

  3. #3
    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Since it's an arrangement, and played on mandocello rather than mandolin, that made it a little less interesting for me, but I still would have paid a reasonable price for it. Even the current price would already make it the third most expensive record I've ever bought. $250 for a Berliner disc of Seth Weeks (long story there), and $100 for a 10" LP of Pettine.




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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    I know the high bidder and he is one of us, meaning of the mandolin-loving persuasion. I will not "out" him at the moment, but I bet he will share the recording if asked nicely. He is very active in CMSA. So, as long as he wins, I think we are in good hands.

    I wonder if anyone has a list of other recordings these two made on their vanity label. What is with those oddball names BTW. Vahdah and Zarh?
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    Can't speak to Vahdah, but I recall reading that the "Zarh" came from a bout with numerology or some sort of quasi-mystical-theosophical interests that influenced Bickford. Same sort of thing that led to Aleister Crowley's adoption of the variant spelling of his first name. Eastern mysticism was hot at the turn of the century, with folks like Yeats joining magical orders. (Crowley loathed Yeats; was always asking people "What ARE Yeats?").

    Doubtless there's a hidden connection between the upsurge in unusual religious beliefs and the mando-boom, if only we were enlightened enough to recognise it. The rise of bluegrass is similarly linked to the interest in things Oriental by the Beats, and the subsequent 60s fascination in eastern religions.

    A good buddy of mine finds that the best guitars were made during periods of political dictatorships; the Roosevelt years were especially rich in this regard, he feels.

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    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (jgarber @ Feb. 02 2008, 19:09)
    I wonder if anyone has a list of other recordings these two made on their vanity label. What is with those oddball names BTW. Vahdah and Zarh?
    Here are the ones I'm aware of, but I haven't heard any of them:

    Bickford, Zahr Myron (1876-1960) [w/ Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, Gtr, except as noted.]
    Zarvah Art 3: To A Wild Rose (MacDowell) (Source: Auction list) [Mandocello and Gtr]
    Zarvah Art ?: Maiden's Wish (Chopin) (Source: Bickford Method, V4)
    Zarvah Art ?: Romance from L'Eclair (Halevy)(1922?) US-Bellson
    Zarvah Art 19: Andantino (Lemare) US-CST 0064/1225 [Lacy Coe, Vn, Z.M. Bickford, Vla, V.A. Bickford, Gtr]

    One was in Bellson's collection (I have a list of it, somewhere), and one is in Stanford. I wouldn't be surprised if they have all of them in the International Guitar Research Archive, since they do have the Bickford Collection there.

    As for the wacky names, they were born Myron A. Bickford and Ethel Lucretia Olcott, but changed them after they were married for astrolgical or numerological reasons, to put certain letters in key positions. Apparently it was a big scandal when they married, as Bickford left his first wife and several children to marry her. I'll bet they were constantly being hounded by paparazzi from The Cadenza!

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    What is this Bellson collection you speak of Neil (Albert or Julius, or Louis for that matter)?

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    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (RSW @ Feb. 03 2008, 03:30)
    What is this Bellson collection you speak of Neil (Albert or Julius, or Louis for that matter)?
    Some 20 years ago I met a collector who had corresponded with Julius Bellson. He had a list of all the mandolin 78s in Bellson's collection and made a copy of it for me. It wasn't huge, but it is my only source for the existance for some records.




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    If you have a moment, could you scan and send me a copy of this list, thanks. I'm not so much a collector of vintage recordings because I have nothing other than an ordinary 1920's period windup gramophone to play them on and a limited supply of needles. I have a Dounis cylinder of Calace's 1st prelude played by Dounis and another cylinder by V. Abt among my vintage recordings which remain silent. I would love to hear the Dounis someday and would like to offer this recording to someone or some organisation that could insure it's preservation and diffusion (transfer to modern recording media). Help me out Neil, you're the only person I know and trust on this.




  11. #10
    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (RSW @ Feb. 03 2008, 08:29)
    I have a Dounis cylinder of Calace's 1st prelude played by Dounis and another cylinder by V. Abt among my vintage recordings which remain silent.
    I now have a copy of the Dounis Calace recording, which I received as a present from Alex (many thanks, again!), but it is not in the right format for my own cylinder phonograph, so I still need to get one of my friends to transfer it for me. Do you really have a cylinder of Abt? He only recorded on 78s that I am aware of. I will email you about the rest.

    Here, for everyone else's enlightenment, are the earliest print ads I have seen for mandolin recordings, from the February and August 1899 issues of The Phonoscope, a trade magazine for the recording industry. I've heard that the earliest mandolin recording was from 1893, but have not yet seen a reference for if.




  12. #11
    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    February, 1899:
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    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    August, 1899. Note that the soloist is not named. Many early recordings were just marketed by instrument, rather than by artist. People would buy something labeled "violin solo," and not know that it was Heifetz.
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  14. #13
    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Here is another one you don't see every day, the only released recording by Stellario Cambria, playing one of his own compositions. I believe that he recorded two pieces for Edison, but the other was not released. I already have this one, so I won't be bidding.

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    mandonucs John Uhrig's Avatar
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    That one looks nice, and my old Edison is up and running. I also have the Alessios Mandolin Quartet
    Side A: #Spanish Rhapsody
    Side B: Hungarian Serenade

    Just need to figure out how to record these onto a CD or tape and do them justice.

    FYI-- these old Edisons run at 80 RPM, and you need to play then on the Edison Diamond Disc Phonographs



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    Some of you may know about the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project

    Which contains a number of the recordings mentioned above as well as others. Here is what I found:

    1. Samuel Siegel and M. Loyd Wolf. -- #An autumn evening

    2. Samuel Siegel and William Smith. -- Castilian echoes

    3. Samuel Siegel and Roy Butin. -- Estellita waltz

    4. Samuel Siegel. -- Evening on the plaza

    5. Samuel Siegel and Roy H. Butin. -- Gavotte

    6. Samuel Siegel. -- Hawthorne Club

    7. Alessios Mandolin Quartet. -- Hungarian serenade

    8. Samuel Siegel and Marie Caveny. -- Kuu ipo i ka hee pue one medley

    9. Samuel Siegel. -- Manzanilo

    10. Samuel C. Siegel. -- My old Kentucky home

    11, Demetrius C. Dounis. -- Prelude.

    12. Len Spencer and Parke Hunter. -- The professor and the musical tramp

    13. Samuel Siegel and Roy Butin. -- Southern fantasie

    14. Demetrius C. Dounis. -- Souvenir

    15. Vernon Dalhart. -- That dreamy dreamy lullaby

    16. William Edward. -- Visions of sunny Italy

    17. Alessios-De Filippis Mandolin Orchestra. -- A walk in the forest

    18. Samuel Siegel and Roy H. Butin. -- Waltz

    19. Samuel Siegel and Roy H. Butin. -- Waltz

    20. Samuel Siegel. -- Zenda waltz



    Most of these are available in mp3s as well as unedited wav files.




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    Looks like they've added a few since I last looked.

  18. #17
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Ah, yes... I collected about 6 cylinders over the years but had no way to play them or even to transfer them to digital. I donated all to the cylinder project. A few of the Siegels were mine. The guy in charge there was quite appreciative and even put mine on the front burner (so to speak) so they were digitized and available in a matter of weeks. If you are more interested in the sounds rather than owning the actual wax it seems like a good thing to do. I don't like archives that hoard their treasures and don't make them available to the public but this project seems not to be that way.

    I think Neil works for a similar organization.
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    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    I didn't remember them having the Dounis recording of the 1st Calace prelude, so it was nice to finally hear that.

    "I think Neil works for a similar organization."

    Until 10 years ago, I worked in the Recorded Sound section of the Library of Congress, and I was much more active buying records, then. Whenever I got a new 78 auction list, I would spend my lunch hour checking it against the LC collection. If they had 10 copies, then I'd know it was a common record and put in a low bid. If they had no copy, then I would bid a lot higher. As a result, my personal collection dovetails the LC collection very nicely!

    The Library of Congress has been digitizing a lot of their collection in recent years, which you can access from the American Memory page. A general search for mandolin from here will bring a mixture of recordings, sheet music, photographs, concert programs, stories about the mandolin, etc. Or, you can narrow it down by only searching a particular collection. This is your tax dollars at work for the mandolin, so take advantage of it!

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    It's Calace's 2nd prelude Neil, the most often played today. Unfortunately the copy they have is not in great condition. I have a 'visually' very good condition original cylinder of this prelude which I bought years ago. Maybe I should donate it to them (or you) or LC?

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    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (RSW @ Feb. 13 2008, 13:19)
    It's Calace's 2nd prelude Neil, the most often played today. Unfortunately the copy they have is not in great condition. I have a 'visually' very good condition original cylinder of this prelude which I bought years ago. Maybe I should donate it to them (or you) or LC?
    I've played the 2nd, but the Dounis recording is of the 1st. I have this same recording, as does LC, but they have not made a copy of it (yet). Do you really have a recording of him playing the 2nd? I was not aware of it.

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    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (ngladd @ Feb. 09 2008, 10:50)
    Here is another one you don't see every day, the only released recording by Stellario Cambria, playing one of his own compositions. I believe that he recorded two pieces for Edison, but the other was not released. I already have this one, so I won't be bidding.
    Yikes, this has gone over $300!!! I hope I'm not responsible. I said that you don't see them every day, but it's not THAT rare. I think I have three of them. I like to have 2 of everything in case one breaks, and Edison tended to release more than one take, so I probably have different performances on my copies. The Zarvah Art record was much more rare, and sold for the initial bid of $91.

    I think that some mandolin collectors with no experience in record collecting circles are bidding these things up to the moon, without really knowing which records are rare or common. I've also seen a dealer asking $125 for a $5 mandolin record. He has dropped the price a few times, but luckily, no one has paid him that for it.

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    Registered User Pasha Alden's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin recordings of note

    A good buddy of mine finds that the best guitars were made during periods of political dictatorships; the Roosevelt years were especially rich in this regard, he feels.

    Now that's a point to ponder - does it lend new meaning to strings attached? <big smile>

    This is an old thread, long before mandolin was an instrument of choice, but wonderful discussion all the same!

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin recordings of note

    Quote Originally Posted by Vannillamandolin View Post
    A good buddy of mine finds that the best guitars were made during periods of political dictatorships; the Roosevelt years were especially rich in this regard, he feels.


    Political dictatorships? The Roosevelt years? Who are you referring to, Oscar Roosevelt, Dictator of Offalistan?

    This doesn't really doesn't make very much sense. I don't know my US history very well, but I assumed both Franklin and Teddy were elected.

    I have Gibson mandolins made during the Wilson, FDR and Nixon administrations. A fairly broad political spectrum. They are all pretty rich instruments. I don't really play the guitar so I'll let others weigh in about those.

    I do think the original thread on "Recordings of Note" is pretty interesting, though.

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    Default Re: Mandolin recordings of note

    Hi
    the view on presidents not my own? But My comment a response to the guitars made in certain periods was the actual thing. Included the op's quote, for my remark to make sense. Actually I would have thought both presidents were elected, however, the thing that fascinates me is that there seem to be different quality in guitars? I would certainly not way in on that. it is just not my field.

    Perhaps the person also makes reference to the presidency itself? I cannot say. So my comment was actually meant as a question, a response to that. So my query: different periods: different levels quality for guitar?

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  26. #25

    Default Re: Mandolin recordings of note

    I am very interested in hearing any recordings by Myron Bickford and/or Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, whether on Zarvah Art or otherwise. If you have files you are willing share, please PM me. Not sure if any more of these Zarvah Art 48s have popped up since 2008.

    I also see the following recording sessions listed at the "Discography of American Historical Recordings," but I gather these are just entries on the Victor ledger, and not anything that was ever actually released or that now exists:

    http://adp.library.ucsb.edu/index.ph...ntalist_guitar

    Also, has anyone here visited and gone through the Vahdah Olcott-Bickford collection at California State University Northridge?

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