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Re: [ARSCLIST] Pirated Mengelberg 78s
Happy New Year!
Eli Oberstein was an accountant who went to work at Victor in 1928. As
head of Bluebird from 1933 on and all popular A&R 1936-9 he developed
extensive contacts with European sources. When he returned to Victor in
the 1940's he was merrily leasing his 1939 Royale Jan Peerce sides to
Majestic while Peerce was making new RCA Victor red seal recordings.
Piracy is not the correct term for Obie's US Record Corp. imports. He
seems to have dealt with Ultraphon, which maintained its seperate
existence on paper as a Dutch company after being bought out by
Telefunken. Ethical? Certainly not after the German invasion in May
1940. Legal-probably since Holland was not annexed like Austria nor was
it placed under martial law. Note that English Decca leased some of the
same batch of Django Reinhardt sides that Obie did and they appeared in
the U.S. in direct competition. Most of the VarsityRoyale releases were
dubbed, possibly because of Oberstein's concern for eccentric grooves
that would trip automatic changers. He may have had only one original
stamper to work with, however. Royales also showed true mx. numbers, now
and then the original stampers were employed (waste not- want not!)
Several sides credited the Ultraphon Symphony Orch. Most of the Berlin
Phil. are credited on Royale though conductor credits are usually lost.
Oberstein began to pump out bunches of anonymous classical records after
1940. Musicraft's Masterpiece discs are probably the most familiar.
Concertone, Classics, Firestone Philharmonic and World's greatest
whatevers flooded the market. Sometimes US-prefixes were adulterated to
read "08." Others are completely renumbered with "I" (for Imperial)
prefixes and 12-inchers were renumbered into an "X" series. Oddly
enough, I just picked up some of the New world Symphony stuffed into a
After Pearl Harbor Obie managed to establish a pipeline to the Swiss
Elite label and several E-prefixed mxs. appeared on his Hit label during
the war. His pirate years began with the LP era when he was caught
bootlegging European opera broadcasts (probably via E.J. Smith). No
prosecution ensued but there were several changes in the Allegro Royale
catalog. Instrumental works were much more difficult to trace.
Re: Eric's excellent Eroica list
Concertone/Varsity/Gramophone 2002 should also be on Halo 5002.
According to Ernst Lumpe "Concertone 2002: Beethoven Symphony No-3 op.
55 "Eroica" (1956) "National Opera Orchestra" (no conductor named) The
Concertone sleeve contains a Gramophone disc, showing only one matrix
number on side 1 (1731 A). The performance is identical to the recording
which Franz Konwitschny made with the Dresden State Chapel for the East
German label Eterna in 1954, a recording which has been recently
reissued on CD (Amabile 0140008)." At least half of this performance
would also have appeared on Allegro Royale 1731.
LP Regent MG 5007 (Schubert cond. Hamburg SO) is almost certainly from
Oberstein, who traded a lot of material with Savoy/Regent. Possibly the
same as Allegro Royale 1218, also released as King K269-218 -credited to
the Berlin Symphony Orch. conducted by Franz R. Friedl. I have 1218
boxed up somewhere... but I think this issue is dubbed from 78's.
The Olympia SO/Mattos Acorn LP 613 is part of a netherworld of releases
which combined Oberstein material with other flotsam from Precision
Radiation Instruments (Tops, et al) and may also appear on Hudson and
Galaxy Series. It may well be the same performance as Concertone 2002.
Hope this helps,
David J. Diehl
Texas State Technical College