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Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital firsts in Europe

Hello Tom,

here are the - lengthy - details I promised yesterday. Even if I can't give you a definitive answer, I hope that the information below will put more data points on the time line and help you to really identify the first digital recording DG made for release.

The recording I mentioned yesterday was: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Karl Böhm, originally released on DG 2532 005. My box set containing the last three symphonies only has the information that it was published in 1981. Two other sources confirm a recording date of 1980 (F. Endler: Karl Böhm. Ein Dirigentenleben and the liner notes to DG 413 721-2).

In another box (Bach Cembalo Concertos with The English Concert, cond. Trevor Pinnock, DG 2723 077) further dates for DG sessions in London can be found in the liner notes: The last analog sessions for this box took place on February 4 to Feb. 8 1980 and the first digital session was on October 20.
The Tchaikovsky has probably been recorded before, because in November Karl Böhm was already busy recording the Beethoven 9th digitally in Vienna (released on DG 2741 009 and on CD on 413 721-2 where the notes list the recording date).

This confirms that DG switched from analog to digital in London at some time between February and September 1980.

Other interesting data points come from a close examination of the record numbers of the early digital DG LPs (all record data below are taken from the Bielefelder Katalog 1/1986, the publication dates are taken from the LPs in question).
DG obviously started two new series in the 4+3 number scheme in use at that time for their new digital recordings. These are 2532 xxx for LPs and 2741 xxx for box sets. If one now assumes, that DG assigned the numbers in the order of recording, nearly everything makes sense. Even if this assumption should prove wrong, this list is a good starting point.

2532 001 Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Sérénade melancolique, L. Maazel, G. Kremer, Berlin Philharmonic

2532 002 Vienna New Year's Concert, L. Maazel cond.
(this must have been been between 1980 and 1986 with 1980 being most probable, because in 1979 Boskowsky was still conducting and it would make sense for DG to immediately follow up the 1979 digital New Year's Concert on Decca with an own production)

2532 003 Brahms Symphony No. 4, C. Kleiber, Vienna Philharmonic (published 1981)

2532 004 Mozart Die Zauberflöte (highlights), H.v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic

2532 005 Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, K. Böhm, London Symphony, see above

2532 006 Offenbach Overtures, H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic

2532 007 Bruckner Symphony No. 3, H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic

2532 008 Beethoven Piano Sonatas No. 8, 13, 14, E. Gilels (published 1981, as stated on DG 400 036-2, the original release on CD)

2741 001 Mozart Die Zauberflöte, H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic

2741 002 Wagner Parsifal, H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic

2741 003 Strauß-Family Waltzes et al., H. v. Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic

2741 006 Wagner Tristan und Isolde, C. Kleiber, Staatskapelle Dresden (recorded in Dresden in August and October 1980 and February and April 1981, source: http://members.tip.net.au/~jgbrown/Tristan/discography/index.htm )

2741 009 Beethoven Symphony No. 9, K. Böhm, Vienna Philharmonic (recorded in November 1980, see above, published 1981)

2741 010 Mahler Symphony No. 3, C. Abbado, Vienna Philharmonic (published 1982)

This strengthens the case that the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto you found earlier is indeed DG's first digital recording made for release and that is was recorded in late 1979.
I would even feel confident enough to state, that we now should know the first digital recordings for each of DG's major recording locations: 2532 001 for Berlin, 2532 002 for Vienna and 2532 005 for London. But given the fact that all DG LPs of that time that I examined don't list recording dates (except LPs on the Archiv label), this is conjecture.

Best wishes, Ulrich Sieveking

Tom Fine wrote:
Hello Ulrich:

This was a very good tip. Thank you!

According to Billboard as reprinted here:

DGG's first digital master was made in 1979:

"1979 - First digital recording (Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with Gidon Kremer and the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Lorin Maazel)"

Further Googling finds DGG's information for the download version of this recording:

which indicates a December 1979 recording date.

If all this info is accurate, this would indicate DGG was the last of the major European labels to move to digital recording. Decca and Philips started in January 1979, EMI in July 1979.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "G. W. Ulrich Sieveking" <sieveking@xxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 6:13 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital firsts in Europe

Hello Tom,

if I recall correctly, DG has been recording digitally for release before that time with the LSO in London. The three last Tchaikovsky Symphonies under Karl Böhm come to my mind, of which at least one must have been digital and recorded in 1979 or 1980. I'll dig out the LPs and post the details tomorrow.

Best wishes,
Ulrich Sieveking

Tom Fine wrote:
Hello All:

I am trying to track down the first digital recordings by all the major European classical labels.

For my ARSC Journal article, I confirmed Decca as being first to make a for-release digital
recording, the New Year's Day 1979 concert in Vienna. Philips followed the next day with Marinner
recording Handel's Opus 3 concerti grossi (although another listmember has pointed out that Philips
lists a different recording date on the CD issue; I will take the word of former Philips executive
Franz van Dongen). Decca developed their own digital recording system (described in an AES
convention presentation by F.A. (Tony) Griffiths), and Philips used a Sony 1600 system for their
first sessions.

EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" reissue of Andre Previn's July 2-3, 1979 recording of
Debussy works states in the booklet this was EMI's first digital for-release recording. The booklet
talks about a videotape-based system sampling at 50khz. Does anyone know any details -- was it a
modified Sony or JVC system or an EMI in-house development? Or was the booklet author wrong about
the sampling rate?

DGG's website:
"Deutsche Grammophon was the first to enter the (CD) market, when Herbert von Karajan recorded
Richard Strauss's "Eine Alpensinfonie" with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1981 - the first classical
work to find its way on to compact disc."

So was this 1981 Karajan recording DGG's first for-release digital session? And, what equipment did
DGG use in the early days?

Thanks in advance for any/all facts/answers.

-- Tom Fine

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