Was this your first LP?

The novelist Marina Lewycka in the Times today:

In 1960, much to my mother’s disgust, my father went out and bought a new Dansette record player. She was disgusted because, ever the thrifty one, she thought the money could be much better spent on household essentials, but I was delighted because I guessed I would have access to it, to play my own and my schoolfriends’ music. At the time we were living in Witney, a few miles up the road from Oxford, and I had a Saturday job in WH Smith, for which I earned 50p a day, so I was rich.

The next week my dad went to the HMV store in Oxford and started to build his classical record collection. Among the first vinyl LPs he brought home was one from Decca with a strange cover depicting bare, twisted, tormented-looking winter trees and a moody-looking Frenchman on the back, whom I mistook for Berlioz, but who was in fact the Dutch conductor Eduard van Beinum. I still have it….

Read on here.

Marina is the author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and The Lubetkin Legacy.

So what was your first?

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  • My first was Beethoven’s 5th, BPO under Karl Böhm. I wanted the Toscanini, which included the 8th, but was told, not incorrectly, that the sound would deteriorate at the end of such long sides so I accepted the Böhm DGG version. I later suspected this was because it was the most expensive one available. There was a loud tape join just before the clarinet solo in the 1st movement, which I still hear today whatever the version being played.

  • Brahms Piano Concerto #2 with Richter, Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the RCA Victor label.

    • That is a fantastic recording! My favourite of that Concerto, I think (and I always, always press Stop before the Appassionata starts).

      • You’re absolutely correct. The RCA Reiner was with Gilels I think, which may explain my misremembering. But my first album was definitely the Richter.

        • Reiner was Richter’s choice but he was ill-Leinsdorf also conducted the first SR performances in the US in Boston. My first disc was Beethoven PC 5-Serkin/Bernmstein.

  • The LvB piano concertos with Julius Katchen, Piero Gamba and the London SO. Made an indelible imprint at my very young age, a tad above toddlerdom. Let’s just say it transported me to wonderfully imaginative spheres.

  • Mine was Seiji Ozawa with the Boston Symphony in The Rite of Spring, with King of the Stars as the very unusual coupling. Not a bad way to start I think.

    • Actually, that was Michael Tilson Thomas, not Seiji Ozawa. His Boston Symphony recording (on Philips) had no additional works.

      • Which just goes to show the fallibility of human memory. I would have sworn blind that it was Ozawa, but going online (to prove you wrong!) I see that it was indeed MTT. Makes me doubt everything else I remember from my childhood!

  • Two things: In 1960, 50p was 10/- (ten shillings for those too young and thus unfortunate enough not to have known real money), a sum which would have gone a long way in those days. My first LP purchase was David Wilde’s incomparable recording of the Liszt B minor Sonata, a version I’ve never heard bettered by anyone, anytime, anywhere. I’m still grateful I first heard this masterpiece in such brilliant hands (and everything that went with them).

    • I still have my father’s Mozart Horn Concertos with Brain, PO, cond. Karajan: Columbia 33CX 1140, seriously stiff sleeve, seriously stiff price of 39s 11d written on back. Say he bought it in 1958, that’s £46 in last year’s money according to the Bank of England.

  • Gilels, Beethoven Concertos 1-5, Szell and Cleveland. I’d never heard of any of them, but played it endlessly. Bought it at Sam the Record Man — the most wonderful place I had ever been.

  • Lovely idea. My first three CDs, given to me simultaneously, were:

    1. Tchaikovsky’s First with Karajan and the Berliners, coupled with the Polonaise and Waltz from Onegin and the Marche Slave op. 31;
    2. Mozart’s Symphony no. 40 and Eine kleine Nachtmusik, with Stephen Cleobury conducting the LSO; and
    3. Beethoven’s Spring and Kreutzer Sonatas with Yehudi and Jeremy Menuhin.

    I still cherish the first two CDs in particular. For a while, my childhood dream was to become a violinist with the LSO – well, that one didn’t work out, alas – and I also loved imagining what cold winters in Russia must be like, if that was the way the symphony sounded…

    The Beethoven recording isn’t great, but all three CDs were a brilliant introduction to classical music, from someone who didn’t really listen to it much himself.

    Little did he know he would set the foundation for a life enriched by music, with avid concert-going all over Europe, and now, aged just over 40, a collection of just over 6000 CDs…

  • Do people think that the first recordings they got colour performances of those pieces ever more ?

    My first LP was Moura Lympany and the Grieg+Schumann concertos. I realise all these years after that maybe they weren’t the greatest performances, but they shaped the way I thought about these masterpieces for a very long time – and were hard to shake off,

    • Absolutely. As a listener in general, but as a clarinetist I often found that the first recording of a piece strongly influenced my sense of how it should go:

      – Gervase de Peyer with the Rossini Intro and Variations and the Copland concerto, and to some extent the Brahms sonatas.

      – Robert Marcellus with the Mozart concerto (actually my second recording)

      – Stanley Drucker with the Nielsen Concerto.

    • “Do people think that the first recordings they got colour performances of those pieces ever more ?”

      Yes, yes, yes.

      My first New World was Fricsay with the BRSO on Heliodor, and my first Dvorak 7 was Schmidt-Isserstedt on Ace of Clubs.

      Somehow, no other performances can bring out the glories of these works to me. How delighted I was to find them transferred to CD by Forgotten Records.

  • Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra was mine. Played on one of those all-in-one record players around 1954 or ‘55, why I chose it is a mystery. There were two versions available then I have just discovered. Did I pick HvK’s version as I had recently been to the RFH to hear him and the great Philharmonia O? Anthony Collins and the LSO PLAYING Sibelius 2nd was the other early lp in my collection

    • I started with Dvorak’s “New World” with Toscanini/NBC Symphony, then Ravel with Asermet/Suisse Romande, Sibelius-Violin Concerto, Heifetz/Chicago-Hendl, etc, etc. If the piece (classical) was recorded, I probably have it.

  • I guess it all depends. The first album I acquired under my own power was “The Beatles” aka “The White Album”. Traded a defective Xmas gift for it. “Revolution #9″was my introduction to Music Concrete. The first “classical” record I bought was the final session of Sir Thomas Beecham, “Ein Heldenleben” with the Royal Philharmonic, a rehearsal for the recording planned for the next day. But the first disc I paid for was “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers”.

    And so it goes.

  • A double LP-album with Beethoven’s 8th and 9th with BPO/Karajan, the “iconic” DG recording from the early 60’s. In mu humble opinion the sound quality is superior to all late digital remasterings of the same recording.

  • Segovia playing Bach. An 8th birthday present from my parents. I knew several of the movements from the cello suites ad violin partitas on guitar before I started playing the violin. Segovia´s interpretations resonate to this day.

  • My late father was convinced that long playing recordings were a fad so we pretty much kept playing our aging 78s until the early 1960s, by which time stereo had come on the scene. My older sister claimed she was the ONLY person in her school who didn’t have a certain popular recording (perhaps Gene Pitney?) so for Christmas my dad reluctantly bought a small stereo and the desired LP for my sister. By coincidence my aunt sent me a recording for Christmas: Isaac Stern playing the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky Concertos with Ormandy and Philadelphia. So that was my first – very belatedly. We skipped the entire monaural LP era! It remains a good example of Stern in his prime.

    Two odd factoids about it. It took my dad years to stop standing up (and then sheepishly sit down again) during LP recordings when he sensed the side change he knew from the 78s (the old Kreisler recording for the Mendelssohn for example, or Toscanini in Brahms) was coming up.

    And even today I expect to hear (and am briefly surprised when I don’t hear) the “Auer” cuts in the Tchaikovsky that Stern and nearly everybody else at the time except Oistrakh and the other Soviets took in the Tchaikovsky. That Columbia stereo LP imprinted me on the cuts.

    My father came around quickly enough to love the LP. Not only were there wonderful artists of the current day to be listened to that he was unfamiliar with, but then he discovered that there were historic reissues of the favorite singers he had heard in the 1920s and 30s such as Gigli, Schipa, Martinelli, Crooks, and Ponselle. It became rare to drag out the 78s.

  • Columbia mono ML 4044 – Ormandy/Philadelphia, Strauss Rosenkavalier Suite/Death & Tranfiguration. I still have it. They played Rosenkavalier on a 1948 US transcontinental tour. I attended one concert while still in high school. The power and sound of the orchestra blew me away.

  • My dad already had a small collection of classical LPs when I was a child, so when I was interested (and old enough to be trusted with his precious record player) I could simply start listening.

    Some of what I remember him having:

    • “The Beethoven Collection” I think it was called, issued by Time/Life. All the symphonies and overtures with Karajan/ Berlin (the early 60’s version) and Christian Ferras playing the Violin Concerto, and the piano concerti with Wilhelm Kempff, Ferdinand Leitner and the BPO.
    • “The Great Violin Concerti” (Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn) played by David Oistrakh, with various no-name orchestras and conductors. Issued by Musical Heritage society.
    • Beethoven Violin Concerto with Grumiaux/ Philharmonia/ Galliera.
    • Brahms Symphony #4 with Steinberg/ Pittsburgh
    • William Dawson’s “Negro Folk Symphony” with (I think) Stokowski

    There was a fair amount of other stuff that didn’t make an impression on me (I have a vague memory of a “Rigoletto” recording with Gueden and Del Monaco? Maybe Gobbi? and the big crash-and-bang Beecham “Messiah,” which I never listened to.)

    The first thing I remember picking out to listen to of my own volition was Mozart violin concerti played by Grumiaux, in an earlier recording than his well-known cycle with Colin Davis. It included an attributed concerto #6 called the “Adelaide” (I think?).

    • My first LP at age 5-Robertino Loretti singing Neapolitan songs. I thought he had the most angelic voice and I learned all the songs by heart.
      Got me hooked on the songs and the language forever.
      Second LP- Gigli, singing arias and, you guessed it-Neapolitan songs. The best Core Ingrato ever.
      Third LP bought with my own savings at age 9- Concert performance of Aida (1949) with Richard Tucker, Herva Nelli and Eva Gustafson, with NBC orchestra conducted by Toscanini. I still have it and my love affair with opera is still going strong.
      First CD-Vivaldi, the 4 seasons with I Musici.

  • Elgar Enigma and Brahms St Antony Chorale variations ; Pierre Monteux and I can’t remember which orchestra ( although I still have it so I’ll have a look ! ) . My most treasured LPs however are the Geza Anda Mozart Complete Concertos

  • Mozart’s Jupiter symphony coupled with Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on the RCA label with Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I still have it.

  • After emerging from successful dental surgery while a UCLA student, I went straight to Discount Records in Westwood Village and bought the De Peyer/Maag/LSO recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. The sound was so warm and loving, the playing so perfect that I’ve since never heard better. I was one happy dude, listening as the novocaine wore off.

  • My first LP was a RCA Victor disc of overtures, etc. with Toscanini and the NBC Symphony… My first CD – Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony with Bernstein and the Chicago Symphony

  • Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio with Jean-Pierre Rampal. Maybe it was the cartoon drawing on the cover…

  • Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite with Bernstein & NY Phil, purchased when I was 14 and finally had access to a stereo system. Nice performance, and as repertoire was about right for a 14 year old who had heard no classical music yet.

  • Mozart Marches & Dances, Vienna Mozart Ensemble, Willi Boskovsky, (bought in 1966 or ’67 when I was 9)
    Ravel Ma Mere l’Oye, London Symphony, Pierre Monteux (bought in 1969 when I was 11)

  • The first classical LP I ever bought: Beethoven 5th Sym. / Bernstein / NY Phil. (Columbia mono LP)
    The first LP I ever bought: Dave Brubeck / Time Out – it’s got “Take Five” on it (Columbia stereo LP)
    The first music I ever remember hearing on my parents’ “hi-fi”: Rachmaninoff 2nd Concerto / Rachmaninoff / Stokowski / Philadelphia Orch. (RCA Victor 78s)
    I still have them all. The 78s too!
    BTW, That Rach 2 with Rach and Stoki: the greatest R2 of all time. REALLY. And the RCA CD reissue (in the complete Rach collection) sounds excellent to my ears.

  • Beethoven’s 6th with LSO/Josef Krips.
    I broke my parents’ copy by dropping it on the floor (it was quite an old lp) and I felt bad… Plus I liked the music… So as soon as I had enough money (3,99 at the beginning of the 70s when you’re 7 or 8 was a fortune) and got that version. I didn’t get it for the conductor or the orchestra but simply because it was cheap (ah, the good old Musidisc)… I could have done worse!

  • Tchaikovsky. Symphony No.4 played by the SNO under Air Alexander Gibson on CfP. I had attended my first orchestral concert the night before and was delighted that the musicians at the concert were the same as the Lp!

    I played that record into the ground!

  • Selections from Swan Lake, conducted by Joseph Levine on Music For Pleasure, bought in 1966 to christen
    our first record player – and still available for next to nothing on Amazon. Has anyone heard of Joseph Levine?

  • Mahler’s 1st. I worked at Discount Records in Lincoln, NE. The Everest recording with Adrian Boult and the RPO was and still is my favorite!

  • John Shirley-Quirk: but I can’t remember whether it was his first recording of English song on Saga (Songs of Travel, etc.) or the two Bach bass solo cantatas on L’Oiseau-Lyre (BWV 56 and 82) – one followed the other pretty quickly. The interesting thing was that, at the time (mid-1960s), I didn’t possess a record player!

  • My first LP was “Orchestral Fireworks” on MFP with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra under Felix Slatkin. My parents bought it me for Christmas and it included music by Gliere, Dvorak, Kabalevsky, Respighi, Saint-Saens, Rimsky Korsakov, Wagner and Falla. It was a really inspired intro to some very colourful music, which I treasure to this day. My first purchase was Beethoven 6 with Reiner and the Chicago Symph. Orch. on RCA.

    Perhaps it’s just me, but I think that our desire to introduce folk to so-called classical music through works by “the Greats” (Beethoven 5, Mozart 41, Haydn 101, Bach Brandenburg, Brahms 2, Schubert Lieder etc) is often misjudged. Capture their imagination with a piece of well-chosen Bartok, Stravinsky, Rimsky, Shostakovich, Copland, Britten, for example, and they can then be led to the “cornerstones of the repertoire”.

  • She says about her Ace of Clubs Berlioz LP:
    ‘a moody-looking Frenchman on the back, whom I mistook for Berlioz’
    I don’t think that can be right. I must have had at least a dozen Ace of Clubs LPs (first one Solti Suppe overtures) and they never had any illustration on the back of the sleeve. In fact I’m pretty sure that none of the rival bargain labels from Philips and HMV in the early sixties had that luxury either.

  • 1st classical: Five 78 RPM Beethoven 4th Piano Concerto performed by Jose Iturbi with Columbia Symphony
    1st LP: Paul Badura Skoda: Beethoven Emperor Concerto

  • Beet 6th sym: LPO/Erich Kleiber, Decca Ace of Clubs, and about the same time: Rachmaninov Paganini Rapsody/Dohnanyi Nursery Song Variations: Julius Katchen/LPO/Boult, also Decca ACL, cos cheapest at the time! My memories of “first” LPs are hazy as we already had many and i was discovering all these Marvellous Noises all at once in a flood of young teenage enthusiasm.

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