April 10, 2019 is the 120th anniversary since the first recording session in Russia

April 10, 2019 is the 120th anniversary since the first sound recording session in Russia. William Sinkler Darby carried it out on the initiative of gramophone inventor Emil Berliner (1851-1929). This date can be considered the birthday of a gramophone record in Russia.

In March 1899, the first recordings the Russian performers were made at the London Studio. The performances of choir of Sofia Medvedeva and its soloists were among them. These were the first recordings of the Russian artists in Europe. The recording turned out to be so successful that the Berliner’s Gramophone Company (later renamed Gramophone Company) sent the expert and one of the best tonmeisters - William Sinkler Darby to St. Petersburg with the aim to record the Russian singers’ performances.

On April 10, 1899, Darby made the first test record; hence, it was unsuccessful, as well as several others that were made the next day. Then things went better, though Darby had trouble with some materials and with the performers willing to be recorded.

Nevertheless, when the session came to its end on May 10, it turned out that in four weeks tonmeister managed to make about 243 successful master-records with the voices of the famous Russian performers.

Among them were the soloists of the Mariinsky Theater Ioakim Tartakov, Osip Palechek, opera performers Fedor Oreshkevich and M. Guschina, balalaika-player Vasily Andreyev, famous choirs and many others. Recordings of the baritone Rubin comprised the major part in the first series of the Russian performers’ recordings.

For the anniversary date, we have prepared a musical selection recorded from the music media that are stored in the Museum Collection Sound Library.

Ref.: article by Alan Kelly - the world's leading expert on the history of recording, compiler of the “Complete catalog of Russian gramophone records made by Gramophone Company from 1899 to 1929 in Russia and abroad”.