James and Sean take you on a journey back to the year 1901 to listen to original, unmediated, often completely unacceptable recordings from the early days of the gramophone. This time we have rousing sort-of proto-proto-proto-jazz, stunning vocal acrobatics from a Russian soprano, vaudeville comedy which may or may not have stood the test of time, and our first recording from Japan. Some fascinating and often genuinely good stuff rescued from the vaults after 118 years – come join us!
Edit: Mixcloud embeds apparently are broken! So please follow this link for now – https://www.mixcloud.com/centuries_of_sound/centuries-of-sound-on-cambridge-105-radio-episode-9-1901/
Gustav Klimt – Judith and the Head of Holofernes
Pablo Picasso – The Blue Room
Winslow Homer – Searchlight on Harbor Entrance, Santiago de Cuba
Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo – The Fourth Estate
Akseli Gallen-Kallela – Kullervo Rides to War
Joseph Farquharson – The Shortening Winter’s Day is Near a Close
Camille Pissarro – Hay Harvest at Éragny
Anders Zorn – Girl from Dalecarlia Knitting
Ramon Casas – Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu in an Automobile
Gustav Klimt – Buchenwald
Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost
A Ride on a Tramcar through Belfast
Race for the Muratti Cup at Manchester
The Countryman and the Cinematograph
What Happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City
The Man with the Rubber Head
Cunard Vessel at Liverpool
The Big Swallow
Building Up and Demolishing the Star Theatre
Nankin Road, Shanghai
Jamaica Street, Glasgow
Kansas Saloon Smashers
Manchester Band of Hope Procession
Gordon Sisters Boxing
Alfred Butterworth and Sons, Glebe Mills, Hollinwood
Trapeze Disrobing Act
President McKinley Inauguration Footage
Here’s a wonderful thing. In 1994 a stack of negatives was found in a cellar by workmen demolishing a shop. The prints turned out to be the largest surviving collection of actuality films anywhere in the world, and their restoration is almost certainly the best window on to life in Edwardian England.
Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon made “Local Films For Local People” from 1899 to 1907. This meant traveling to different towns, filming real-life scenes, of people in the streets, sports matches and public events, then screening the films the same evening. Members of the public could come and see themselves projected onto the big screen.
There are two DVD collections of the films I’ve acquired. The first has full films, unedited, and is utterly fascinating, but the second, the DVD release of a BBC series, is perhaps better, offering in-depth historical analysis and even tracking down descendants of the people featured.
Research for this project is never a chore, but this is one of those things that I suspect I’d be watching even if I wasn’t researching the era.
Here is the first part of the BBC series – the other two parts can also be found on Youtube.
Theodore Roosevelt towers over the Progressive Era like nobody else – he rose to fame at its inception, became president at its height and died as it was spluttering out. Viewed from the 21st century he seems like a mass of contradictions – a strongman intellectual, a populist warmonger who won the Nobel Peace Prize. Reading about him, I am never sure whether to find him admirable or a monster – certainly he did plenty of good, but his decisive leadership also led the country into bloody colonial wars. In our mixes we will (eventually) hear his surprisingly reedy, intellectual voice, and hear songs about him, or the ‘teddy bears’ which bear his name.
The Ken Burns series on The Roosevelts is a good introduction to Teddy. Naturally the whole thing isn’t up on Youtube, but this clip is a nice starter.
The full DVD box set can be found here.
This from The Washington Post’s ‘Presidential’ podcast about how he created the modern concept of the presidency is also a good listen.
President William McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz on September 6th, 1901, during a visit to the Pan-American Exposition at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York. He died eight days later of gangrene caused by the gunshot wounds. He was the third American president to have been assassinated in forty years – an era in which the USA had turned away from the serious work of building the nation after the civil war to the excesses of the gilded age, the reversal of civil rights gains, and the nation’s first colonial wars. His successor would handle things in a very different fashion, though one no less fond of war.
Here is an episode of the Washington Post’s ‘Presidential’ podcast about McKinley
This is a section from the Ken Burns ‘The Roosevelts’ series about McKinley’s Assassination
And here is some original footage from his funeral
The Edwardian Era is a short one – a decade at its basic understanding, 14 years in its extended version – but it’s nevertheless an age that lives on in the memories more than any royalty-based-group-of-years since. Usually it’s referred to as a pleasant break between the stern seriousness of the Victorians and the horrors of the First World War, the ‘Edwardian Summer’ remembered by war poets, but of course the reality was very different. It was an era of unrest, the confidence of empire knocked out by the Boer War, the rise of the suffragettes and the Labour Party, vast changes in technology, fashion and daily life, and much in the way of political and social turmoil.
Roy Hattersley’s book on the era does a fairly good job of explaining all of this, though the entire first half (and it’s a big book) is taken up with minutiae of the political ins and outs of the House of Commons, which is a struggle to get through to say the least. The Rex Factor podcast on the reign of Edward VII is as entertaining as ever. Otherwise it seems that fictionalised portrayals are the way to go – The Go-Between, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, Howards End, Jeeves & Wooster, The Wind In The Willows, The Magician’s Nephew, My Fair Lady, basically any HP Lovecraft story. No, I’m not going to say Downton Abbey.