Sad tidings: death of a master sound restorer

Sad tidings: death of a master sound restorer


norman lebrecht

April 12, 2011

Roger Beardsley, who swept the dust of ages off hundreds of classical recordings, has passed away. Here’s the announcement on Music Preserved website:

Roger Beardsley


It is with the heaviest of hearts that we report the sudden death of Roger Beardsley on 7 April. His loss will be felt keenly wherever good music and old recordings are treasured, but our condolences go first to his family. Roger was the transfer engineer responsible for remsatering all of Music Preserved’s archive of historic recordings: a mammoth task he undertook with the love, enthusiasm and expertise that made him acknowledged worldwide as foremost in a highly specialised field. His care and expertise were second to none. Roger took a leading role in the work and growth of Music Preserved. He leaves a huge legacy of music, of living experiences that would otherwise have been lost to the ravages of time, and that may now be absorbed, studied and most of all enjoyed for as long as there are ears to listen. He also leaves a wide circle of friends who counted themselves lucky indeed to enjoy the company of a warm, witty and affable man who was never short of a good joke or a sharply observed apercu. A fuller tribute to Roger’s life and work will appear here in the coming days.

Roger Beardsley

And here’s a fuller c.v

Roger Beardsley began his professional music and recording career at BBC Radio Leeds, where he was a presenter/producer of a weekly music programme (1974-1983). He then became a freelance recording engineer, producing first LP, then CD releases for a variety of organisations including the BBC, following the basic premise that too many microphones cloud the sound. As a second-generation 78 collector, Roger felt that historical re-issues were a travesty of the originals, hence changed his focus from ‘live’ recording to audio restoration. He has produced 400+ CDs to date, covering every sphere of ‘serious’ musical endeavour recorded over the last 110 years – from Vess L. Ossman in 1895 to Kiri Te Kanawa in 2005. He has received various awards for his work, including ‘Classic Record Collector’ for Bartók Quartets (Pearl, 2003) and Kathleen Ferrier and Friends (Pearl GEM0229, 2005), and a ‘Diapason d’Or’ for Gerard Souzay (Pearl, 2002).

Roger is Director of Historic Masters Ltd, which produces limited editions (in the form of direct pressings from original metal masters) of important 78 rpm material from the EMI Archive. He is also a Trustee of Historic Singers Trust, working with the EMI Archive Trust to catalogue their holdings of historic material. So far he has identified 24,000 original metal masters (1900-early 1950s) and located over 1,000 important masters thought destroyed in Germany during World War II. He has produced ‘Fonotipia Ledgers 1904-1939’ (CD-ROM, Historic Masters, 3rd ed.), a database-format discography detailing over 10,000 recordings made by this highly important Italian company.

Roger was a member of the Academic Advisory Board of CHARM and is Technical Consultant (audio restoration) to the Music Department of Ki
ngs College London
. He i
s also a member of the Music Preserved Council, an organisation dedicated to conserving, restoring and making available unique recordings of broadcast performances from the 1930 onwards that would otherwise have been lost.


  • Mac says:

    RIP Roger.
    Sad news, but he certainly left his mark on the BBC.
    – Mac 🙁

  • AVI says:

    Sad & unexpected news indeed. Though we never met, Roger very generously offered all manner of help on various projects, sharing his expertise willingly over the ‘phone and email. Only the other week he was talking enthusiastically about his plans for adding some more kit to his setup; an extremely knowledgeable and affable man. May he rest in peace.

  • Simon Trezise says:

    When my academic studies led me to historical recordings I quickly made contact with Roger. He was inexhaustible in the help he gave me. I spent many happy hours with him in his small studio in N. Thoresby. He has a lovely man, fun to be with, and wonderfully knowledgeable. Getting on without him is going to be tough. You are much missed, Roger.

  • Edward Power says:

    I was very sad to learn, from Stephen Beet, of the passing of Roger. I was aware of his work, and indeed a great admirer, as publisher of Mr. Beet’s book, “The Better Land”, and having been privy to some of the early work revolving around the Better Land series of CD Albums. If memory serves, I think I met Roger at the ‘The Better Land’ book-launch in The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, a few years ago.

  • Stephen Beet says:

    I was very sad to hear this news today. Roger was a wonderful and kind man and help me in my projects for nearly twenty years. He will be greatly missed by all for his kindness, gentleness and just being a great friend.
    Stephen Beet