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1902 is the year everything started to explode. Not particularly in the world of music, not really in the world in general, but very much so in on my computer in 2018. Suddenly there is just so much out there to listen to, and the idea of listening to everything starts to recede, swiftly, from my sight.

The fault here lies with a variety of engineers, who had recently perfected techniques to reproduce gramophone records and phonograph cylinders without any great loss in sound quality. No longer would performers have to play in front of a great bank of horns again and again – one single best performance was all that was needed, and so was born the profession of recording engineer – though nobody seems to have talked of it as a profession for quite a while.

With this came stars who were able to achieve fame on an international level – for example Enrico Caruso and Billy Murray, who are both featured here for the first time. Vaudeville troupes would come by the studio and lay down a version of their most famous routine, virtuoso instrumentalists would make definitive recordings of set pieces, and around the world, from Japan to Brasil to the Vatican City, recordings were being made for mass distribution. From the last of these we have some of the only recordings from a castrato, Alessandro Moreschi.

This  is all good news of course, but it’s all starting to be a bit much for me to get through. I’m happy to say that I personally love all the music featured in this hour-long mix – but this is perhaps just 2% of what I listened to. From the rest perhaps 30% is maudlin sentimental ballads about brave soldiers going off to meet their doom, and maybe 40% is badly-recorded, unremarkable recordings of solo opera singers. A good half of my month is involved in downloading, listening to and deleting these, just to pull out the occasional nugget of gold. So much time does this take, in fact, that I haven’t had time to write a proper blurb. So here we are – an hour of sounds from 1902. Enjoy.


Charles D’ Almaine – Down At Finnegan’s Jamboree (Excerpt 1) 0:00
Sousa’s Band – Trombone Sneeze 0:10
Campbell & Roberts – An Interrupted Courtship On The Elevated Railway 2:13
Arthur Collins & Byron G. Harlan – I’m A-Dreaming Of You 2:35
Collins & Harlan – Two Rubes In A Tavern 4:35
Bohumir Kryl – Carnival Of Venice 5:03
Charles P. Lowe – Carnival Of Venice 6:57
Len Spencer And Gilbert Girard – Daybreak At Calamity Farm 8:44
Edison Military Band – Lizard And The Frog 9:11
International Phonographic Language School – Spanish Lesson #9 11:12
Vess L. Ossman – Darkies Awakening 11:30
Charles D’ Almaine – Down At Finnegan’s Jamboree (Excerpt 2) 13:42
Billy Murray – Under The Anheuser-Bush 14:58
Len Spencer – 23rd Psalm 16:46
Choir Of A. A. Arkhangelsky – Axion Esti 17:11
Salomea Kruszelnicka – Vissi D’arte (Puccini) 18:50
Alessandro Moreschi – Crucifixus (Rossini) 20:09
Enrico Caruso – Una Furtiva Lagrima (Donizetti – Elisir D’ Amore) 22:40
M.A.A.Mikhailova And A.Semenov – Serenada 24:20
Len Spencer – The Lord’s Prayer 27:05
Instrumental Trio – Abkhazuri, Kabardinskiy Tanetz 27:23
Abdal Ali – Death Lament 28:32
Peking Opera – Old Valet Carries Master’s Letter 29:25
Performer Not Given – Japanese Song 30:17
American Quartet – A Meeting Of The Limekiln Club 30:55
Edison Symphony Orchestra – Down On The Old Plantation 31:23
Invincible Quartet – On Board The Oregon 32:44
Edison Symphony Orchestra – Old Folks At Home (Suwanee River) 33:05
Burt Shepard – Parody On ‘Suwanee River’ 34:44
Byron G Harlan & Joe Belmont – Merry Farmer Boy 36:09
Joe Belmont – Bird Imitations 37:40
Georg Tramer – Czardas 38:11
Cal Stewart – Fire Department 39:14
Arthur Collins – Under The Bamboo Tree 40:06
Invincible Quartet – Fireman’s Duty 42:10
Dinwiddie Colored Quartet – Poor Mourner 42:50
Dinwiddie Colored Quartet – Down On The Old Camp Ground 43:53
Haydn Quartet – Owl And The Pussy Cat 44:44
International Phonographic Language School – Italian Lesson #7 45:38
Little Russian Choir Conducted By A. Romanchenko – Since The Time I Got Married 45:47
Byron G. Harlan And Frank C. Stanley – The First Rehearsal For The Huskin’ Bee 46:43
Columbia Band – Arkansaw Husking Bee 47:00
George P Watson – Alpine Specialty 48:33
William Tuson – Nellie Gray 49:42
Victor Minstrel Company – On The Levee 51:12
J. Frank Hopkins. – Medley Of Reels 51:24
Invincible Quartet – Night Trip To Buffalo 53:31
Banda Da Casa Edison – Hino Nacional 53:48
Columbia Band – Reminiscences Of Scotland 54:11
Len Spencer – Arkansas Traveler 54.53
Will F Denny – Parody On ‘ Widow’s Plea For Her Son’ 55:08
Len Spencer – Arkansas Traveler 57:13
Prof D Wormser – Heimweh 57:22
Bohumir Kryl – Russian Fantasia 58:19

A note – we need you! Yes you! Centuries of Sound is made in my spare time and is presented for free. Right now I need a listener to write a review, and I always need people to make suggestions about upcoming years. If you feel that you can do either of these things, please get in touch at centuriesofsoundmail at gmail dot com. Cheers!

One thought on “1902”

  1. Wow. 1902 is the first time that sound quality actually becomes enjoyable to listen to. There is actual depth and nuance to the sound. Thanks for continuing this great series.

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