Abbey Road, the Beatles and the Symphony Orchestras

Abbey Road studios are situated in the genteel St. John’s Wood area a few miles from the centre of London, and were converted by HMV/Angel/EMI from a huge Victorian mansion into recording studios long before I entered the musical profession in 1945.

There is (or was) one very large studio and others accommodating only small groups. It is so well insulated that I doubt if it causes any annoyance to the private houses that surround it, although the parking of all the musicians’ vehicles well might.

I played in the large studio many times with various orchestras. It could house a large symphony orchestra as well as a choir. The conductors included Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Adrian Boult, Herbert von Karajan, Benjamin Britten, Klemperer and Artur Rodzinski also many famous soloists and they all seemed to be very satisfied with the acoustics as well as the end product, the recording.
I can only remember once glancing in the studios where the Beatles recorded. They were very sparsely furnished and small.

As I mentioned in a previous blog posting, an official once told me that it was only because of the huge profits they made from the Beatles and jazz groups that EMI was able to afford to keep the Philharmonia Orchestra going.


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