It would be impossible for me to list all of the recordings I have made in my long career, which must have amounted to thousands, but I have compiled a fairly long list which I think is representative.

I carried a diary, only noting the engagements I was to perform and did not note the music, or the artists and conductors present. On two occasions I worked for over three months without a day off, sometimes playing three sessions a day. My main objective was to keep the diary full of engagements as I had a wife, two kids and a mortgage. Kunst nach Brot! You never knew when the engagements would dry up, but, fortunately for me they never did.

Often you were not told what you were going to record; you were expected to know the entire standard repertoire and sometimes there was no chance of obtaining the music beforehand so you had to sight read, and if you didn’t “cut the mustard” you were out. Walter Legge, the Founder and Artistic Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra was also in charge of the recordings, and he changed violinists more often than he changed his shirt. We were paid very handsomely but there were no residual or repeat fees. Some of these recordings have been re-mastered but the musicians have received nothing, for as musicians from all over the world were clamouring to get into the Philharmonia Orchestra because of the big take home pay, (they came from the USA, Germany, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Australia, Poland, Czechoslovakia etc. etc.) the management could easily find a replacement if you did not like the conditions of employment.

I was told by an official of EMI/Angel that it was only possible to afford all of these classical recordings because they had the Beatles on contract which brought them in a huge amount of money.

It was hard work and like treading on eggshells, you had to be on your toes all of the time, also there was the travelling: I had to leave my home in Mill Hill, about ten miles from the centre of London, at 8.30 a.m. and would often not arrive back home until midnight.

Legge made things a lot more difficult for most of the orchestra by booking his sessions from 10 a.m. -1.00 p.m. and 6.p.m.-9 p.m. saying that the orchestra was fresher by having the long gap in between. I, for instance, had to allow six hours a day for travelling and would have much preferred 10-1 and 2-5. so I was not fresher, quite the reverse. I arrived back home past 2 p.m. and after a rest and an early dinner left home about 4.30 p.m. (you dare not be late) for the 6 p.m. session

Half way through the recording sessions or rehearsals there was a statutory Musicians’ Union break of 15 minutes. A few of the musicians listened to the “takes” but the majority scrambled out for a coffee, or sometimes a beer in the evening.
When I first started recording it was on the old 78’s made of a type of brittle plastic. This was very nerve-wracking because they had to be perfect and recorded in one “take” lasting about 13 minutes or so.

Later, vinyls came in at 33 ¹/³ RPM and when tape recording was introduced it made things a lot easier, for the tape could be spliced and edited. Sometimes the editing can be overdone. I know of one violinist who made 70 splices in the Beethoven Violin Concerto cadenza alone!

Nowadays with advanced technology a good tonmeister can tweak recordings so as to alter pitch, sound and resonance etc. No wonder people who attend concerts say that it is not as good as the CD.

The ’fifties and ‘sixties were truly the Halcyon days of recording in London. The main reason was that stereo recording had been introduced in the ‘fifties causing the entire repertoire to be re-recorded in stereo. Another thing was that the British musicians had a good reputation for sight reading, and recording companies throughout the world saw it as a financial asset – the recordings were completed in much less time.

At the present time, however, I am given to understand that there is very little recording happening in London. Much of the work is being done in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria because their fees are much lower and also their musicians are first- rate. I have a friend who is a composer and he wanted to have one of his works recorded. The fees in Canada were prohibitive; also a royalty fee had to be paid for every performance so he had it recorded in Sofia, Bulgaria, where there was a fine orchestra, choir, conductor and technicians in a beautiful studio. When he asked them if they had a good piano they replied ‘Yes, we have three Steinways!

As many of these recordings I have listed are over fifty years old, I can only approximate the recording date and sometimes cannot trace the conductor or soloist so I have marked these omissions with a?

I have divided the list into Symphonies, Collections of various pieces, Concertos, Opera/Operetta and Vocalists.

Most of the recordings were made in the Kingsway Hall, London, but sometimes recordings were made in the suburbs and I have noted these venues.

The Kingsway Hall acoustics were very good, it was a central location but it became impossible to make a “take” sometimes when the red light went on because of the external noise caused by adjacent building works. I saw Legge occasionally go outside and give a workman a ten shilling note (a lot of money in those days) to bribe him not to use his hammer for the next twenty minutes!

Selected Discography

Often the records were released much later than the actual recording date, so my given dates have had to be approximated.


Beethoven Leonora#1, Leonora #2, Leonora #3, Coriolanus, Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI late ‘fifties

Berloz, Hector Overture “Roman Carnival”
Philharmonia/von Karajan Angel mid ‘fifties

Berlioz Overture “Roman Carnival” London Philharmonic/de Sabata London FFRR Walthamstow Town Hall, Essex

Brahms “Academic Festival” Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI ‘mid ‘fifties

Mozart Six Overtures Philharmonia/Klemperfer EMI mid ‘fifties

Rossini , Giachino “ William Tell”, “ Tancredi,” “ La Cenerentola,” “ La Gazza ladra”
Philharmonia/Carlo Maria Guilini EMI early ‘fifties

Rossini “L’Italiana in Algeria”, “Barber of Seville”. “Signor Bruschino”, “La Scala di Seta”
Philharmonia/Giulini Seraphim early ‘fifties

Turner, Robert “Children’s Overture” CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra/Avison CBC Vancouver Studios early seventies

Verdi “La Forza del Destino”, “La Traviata” (Preludes Acts 1& 3) Philharmonia/Giulini Seraphim early ‘fifties

Verdi Overtures Nabucco, Aida,Giovanna D’Arco Philharmonia/ Tullio Serafin Seraphim mid ‘fifties

Weber Overtures
Philharmonia/Wolfgang Sawallisch EMI mid ‘fifties

Wagner, Richard Overtures “Rienzi”, “Der Fliegende Holländer”, “Der Meistersiger von Nürnberg” “‘Tannhäuser” Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties


Bach, C.P.E., Symphony #1, CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra/John Avison, Ace of Diamonds CBC Vancouver Studio early seventies

Beethoven Symphony #3 (“Eroica”) London Philharmonic/de Sabata London FFRR Walthamstow Town Hall 1946

Beethoven Symphony #7 in A Philharmonia/Guido Cantelli Seraphim early ‘fifties

Beethoven Symphony #8 in F Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI late ‘fifties

Beethoven The nine Symphonies Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties (Ninth symphony recorded at the Musikvereinsaal, Vienna)

Beethoven The nine Symphonies Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI late ‘fifties

Beethoven Symphony #9 Philharmonia/Furtwängler (Live TV recording at Kunsthaus, Lucerne, Switzerland) early ‘fifties

Brahms Symphony # 2 Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties

Brahms Symphony #3 in F Phillharmonia/Erich Leinsdorf Pickwick ‘fifties

Brahms Symphony # 3 Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties

Brahms Symphony #3 Philharmonia/Giulini Seraphim late fifties

Elgar, Edward Symphony #1 in A flat Philharmonia/Sir John Barbirolli Seraphim ‘fifties

Mahler, Gustav Symphony #4 in G Philharmonia/Loose/Paul Kletzki EMI early fifties

Mozart Symphony #10 CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra/Avison Ace of Diamonds CBC Vancouver Studios early seventies

Mozart Symphonies #40/41 Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties

Mendelssohn, Felix Symphony 34 “Italian” Philharmonia. Cantelli Seraphim early ‘fifties

Prokofiev, Sergey “Classical Symphony” Philharmonia/Kurtz early ‘fifties

Schubert, Franz Symphony #8 “Unfinished” Philharmonia/Cantelli Seraphim early ‘fifties

Schubert Symphony # 9 “Great C major” Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties

Tchaikovsky Symphony #2 “Little Russian” Philharmonia/Giulini EMI mid ‘fifties

Tchaikovsky Symphony # 4 Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties

Tchaikovsky Symphony # 6 “Pathétique” Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties

Tchaikovsky Symphony #6 “Pathétique” Philharmonia/Giulini Seraphim early ‘fifties


Beecham, Sir Thomas “Love in Bath”, (a balletic entertainment) Handel-Beecham Royal Philharmonic EMI late ‘forties Abbey Road

Beethoven Triple Concerto Philharmonia/David Oistrakh, Knushevitzky, Oborin/Sargent EMI early ‘fifties

Berlioz, Hector, Selections from “Les Troyens” (Royal Hunt & Storm etc.), “Damnation of Faust”(Ràkòcky March etc.) Philharmonia/Richard Kapp Vox early ‘fifties

Bizet, Georges Suites “Carmen” & “L’Arlésienne” Philharmonia/von Karajan late ‘fifties

Brahms Double Concerto Philharmonia/Christian Ferras violin/Paul Tortelier cello/Paul Kletzki EMI early fifties

Brahms Variations on a Theme of Haydn Philharmonia/Erich Leinsdorf EMI Pickwick early ‘fifties

Britten Four Interludes from “Peter Grimes”, “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” Philharmonia/Giulini EMI mid ‘fifties

Britten, “War Requiem” London Symphony Orchestra/Pears, tenor/Britten Decca early sixties

Butt, Yondani, conductor: Barber 2nd Essay, Saint-Saëns “Danse Bachanale”, Sibelius “Lemminkainen’s Return”, Liszt “ Mazeppa” Symphonie Canadiana Orion 1981, Centennial Hall, N.Vancouver, B.C.

Chabrier “Joyeuse Marche”, Weber arr. Berlioz “Invitation to the Dance”, Verdi “Aida’ Ballet Music“, Waldteufel “Les Patineurs”, Weinberger Polka from “Schwanda the Bagpiper” Farandole from “L’Arlésienne”, Ponchielli, Dance of the Hours from”La Giaconda”, Tchaikovsky Waltz from”Sleeping Beauty”, Chabrier, Espana. Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties

Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth ll Music, Coronation Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult BBC Recording

Copland, Aaron conducts his own works London Symphony Orchestra Decca early ‘sixties Wembley Town Hall

Debussy, Claude “La Mer”, “Three Nocturnes” Philharmonia/Giulini EMI mid ‘fifties

Debussy, La Mer, Nuages & Fêtes, Prelude “Faune” Philharmonia/Guido Cantelli Seraphim early’ fifties

Haydn, Joseph Divertimento Op. 2 #5, Vancouver Symphony Chamber Players CBC Ace of Diamonds N. Vancouver Centennial Theatre 1969

von Karajan Ballet music, Gaité Parisienne, Offenbach (arr. Rosenthal); William Tell, Rossini, Faust, Gounod; Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties

von Karajan, “ Stereo Showpieces for Orchestra” Tchaikovsky “1812”; Mussorgsky “Pictures”; Resphigi “Pines of Rome”; Liszt, Sibelius “Valse Triste”; Philharmonia mid ‘fifties

Khachaturian, Aram “Masquerade” & “Gayaneh” suites Philharmona/Khachaturian EMI mid ‘fifties

Kodály, Háry János Suite Philharmonia/Leinsdorf Seraphim early ‘fifties

Last night of the Proms various pieces BBC Symphony Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent BBC early ‘sixties

Leoncavallo, Ruggiero Intermezzo from “Pagliacci” Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI late fifties

Liszt, Franz “Les Préludes” Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties

Mahler, Gustav “Song of the Earth” Philharmonia/Fischer Dieskau/Dickie/Paul Kletzki, Seraphim early ‘fifties

Mendelssohn Complete incidental music to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Philharmonia/ Heather Harper/Philharmonia Chorus/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties

Mozart Divertmento #7 K.205 Vancouver Symphony Chamber Players Ace of Diamonds North Vancouver Centennial Theatre 1969

Mussorgsky, Modest Dance of the Persian Slaves from “Khovanshchina” Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI late ‘fifties

Mussorgsky “Night on the Bare Mountain” Philharmonia/Giulini Seraphim mid ‘fifties

Mussorgsky, “Pictures at an Exhibition” Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties

Ravel, Maurice “Rhapsodie Espagnole, “Pavane pour une infante défunte” Philharmonia/Giulini Seraphim,, mid ‘fifties

Prokofiev, Sergey “Peter & the Wolf”,” Classical Symphony”, “March from the Love for Three Oranges Philharmonia/Kurtz Seraphim early ‘fifties

Prokofiev, Lieutenant Kijé Suite Philharmonia/Erich Leinsdorf Seraphim mid-‘fifties

Prokofiev Excerpts from ballet “Romeo & Juliet” EMI mid ‘fifties

Rossini, Duo for ‘cello & bass Ian Hampton, ‘cello/Robrt Meyer d.bass CBC Festival Vancouver early seventies

de Sabata, Victor SibeliusEn Saga”, “Valse Triste”, Wagner “Ride of the Valkyries” London FFRR Walthamstow Town Hall 1946

Schmidt, Franz Intermezzo Notre Dame Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI late ‘fifties

Smetana “The Moldau”, Sibelius “Finlandia”, etc. Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties

Strauss, Richard “Die Frau ohne Schatten” – Suite, “Till Eulenspiegel”, “Salome’s Dance” EMI early fifties
Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties

Stravinsky “Firebird”, Ravel “Mother Goose Suite”, Bizet “Children’s Games” Seraphim mid ‘fifties

Stravinsky ballet “Petroushka” London Philharmonic/Ernest Ansermet Decca FFRR 1946

Stravinsky “Rite of Spring” Philharmonia/Igor Markevitch EMI mid ‘fities

Stravinsky Septet Vancouver Symphony Chamber Players Ace of Diamonds, N.Vancouver Centennial Hall 1969

Symphony Splash, Variety of small pieces Victoria Symphony/Peter Mc Coppin 1999 GSP Records

Stokowski conducts orchestral favourites London Symphony Orchestra/Stokowski Decca Wembley Town Hall

Tchaikovsky Suites from the ballets “Sleeping Beauty”, “The Nutcracker” Philharmonia/Yehudi Menuhin Violin/ Efrem Kurtz, EMI Early ‘fifties

Turner, Robert “Nocturne” CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra/Avison CBC Vancouver Studio early seventies

Verdi Giuseppe, Overtures Philharmonia/Tullio Seraphin EMI Watford Town Hall

Wagner, Richard Music from the “Ring”, “Tannhäuser’, “Parsifal” Philharmonia/Klemperer EMI mid ‘fifties

Wagner Flagstad, Kirsten Made C.1946., LPO I cannot remember them being issued Decca

Vaughan Williams Magnificat, Partita for Double String Orchestra, An Oxford Elegy, Five Tudor Portraits, Partita C.B.C. Festival Orchestra And Chorus/Harry Newstone CBC 1971


Bach Jauchzet Gott in Allen Landen ( Cantata, BWV 51) Scwartzkopf/Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties

Callas, Maria Opera Arias Philharmonia/Tullio Serafin EMI mid ‘fifties Watford Town Hall

Falla Manuel de, El amor brujo Victoria de los Angeles/Philharmonia/Giulini Seraphim early ‘fifties

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Concert aria for bass voice with double bass obbligato “Per Questa Bella Mano” CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra/William Reimer, bass/Robert Meyer, D. bass/Avison CBC recording, late ‘sixties

Various opera arias Schwartzkopf/Philharmonia/Galliera EMI mid ‘fifties

Mozart Exsultate Jubilate, Philharmonia/Schwartzkopf/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties


Britten, Benjamin Albert Herring English Opera Group Conducted by Britten British Council 1948

Janácêk Jenůfa, Philharmonia/Vilem Tausky BBC late ‘fifties Camden Theatre

Rossini, Barber of Seville, Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus/Callas, Gobbi, Alva/Galliera EMI

Strauss, Richard Der Rosenkavalier Philharmonia/Schwartzkopf , Ludwig, Stich-Randall, Wächter/von Karajan Angel mid ‘fifties

Verdi Falstaff Philharmonia/von Karajan EMI ‘mid fifties


Johann Strauss Die Fledermaus, Philharmonia/Schwartzkopf, Gedda, Kunz/von Karajan

Franz Lehar Merry Widow, Philharmonia/Schwartzkopf , Kunz, Gedda, Loose/Otto Ackerman EMI mid

Johann Strauss Der Zigeuner Baron, Philharmonia/Schwartzkopf, Gedda, Kunz, Prey/Ackerman EMI Mid ‘fifties


Mozart, The Two Concertos plus Andante in C Philharmonia/Elaine Shaffer, Flute/ Efrem Kurtz Hampstead Studios, early fifties


Brahms Concerto Philharmonia/Nathan Milstein/Anatole Fistoulari Seraphim early ‘fifties

Bruch, Max Concerto in G minor Milstein/Philharmonia/Barzin Seraphim early ‘fifties

Chausson “Poème” Philharmonia/Milstein/Fistoulari Seraphim early ‘fifties

Khachaturian, Aram, Violin Concerto Philharmonia/David Oistrakh/Khachaturian EMI late fifties

Mendelssohn, Concerto in E minor Milstein/Philharmonia/Barzin Seraphim early ‘fifties

Paganini, Niccolò, Concerto # 1 in D Michael Rabin/Philharmonia/Sir Eugene Goossens Seraphim early ‘fifties

Saint-Saëns Concerto Philharmonia/Milstein/Fistoulari Seraphim early ‘fifties

Wieniawski, Henryk, Concerto in D minor Philharmonia/ Rabin/Sir Eugene Goossens Seraphim early ‘fifties


Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations Phiharmonia/ Rostopovitch/ ? EMI mid ‘fifties

I was with the Philharmonia in the ‘Fifties and with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the early ‘sixties and recorded much of the’ cello repertoire with the following :- Starker, Fournier, Navarra, Tortelier, Rostopovitch, Nelsova etc. and their recordings are possibly in the archives.


Discovering the Double bass (Orchestral tuning) Robert Meyer Double bass/Josh Layne harp/ Deborah Rambo piano/ Mary Rannie d. bass/ Peter Smith piano/Christopher Symons Harpsichord/Nancy van Oort bassoon. Solos including Paganini “Variations on a Theme from Rossini’s Moses in Egypt”; “A Little Concerto for Double bass” Gordon Jacob ( Robert Meyer, dedicatee); Albert Roussel “Duo for Bassoon & Double bass”; Duet for 2 Double basses, “Polacca”; Aria from “Il Trovatore” Verdi arr. Bottesini; Rossini, Duetto for’cello & bass; plus several orchestral excerpts. 2006 to be issued shortly.

Hindemith, Paul Sonata for double bass & pianoforte. Robert Meyer, d.bass, Hugh McLean pianoforte CBC Vancouver Studios late ‘sixties


Segovia Various solos including a concerto Maida Vale Studios 196l BBC Symphony Orchestra/ ?


Mozart, The Four Horn Concertos Philharmonia/Dennis Brain/von Karajan EMI mid ‘fifties. Hornsey Town Hall/Kingway Hall

Richard Strauss, 2 Concertos Philharmonia/Dennis Brain/Wolfgang Sawallisch EMI mid’fifties Hornsey Town Hall


Beethoven The five pianoforte concerti Philharmonia/Solomon/ Herbert Menges Seraphim Abbey Road mid ‘fifties

Beethoven Concerto #5 (Emperor) Philharmonia/WalterGiesekimg/Galliera Seraphim early ‘fifties

Brahms, Johannes Concerto #2 in B Flat Philharmonia/Claudio Arrau/Giulini Seraphim early ‘fifties

Liszt, Franz Concerto #1 in E flat Philharmonia/Annie Fischer/Klemperer Seraphim early ‘fifties

Michelangeli Various Concertos Philharmonia/ ? EMI Abbey Road late ‘fifties

Schumann, Robert Concerto I A minor, op. 54 Philharmonia/Annie Fischer/Klemperer Seraphim early fifties

Published on November 16, 2006 at 12:25 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Are classical music recordings heavily produced like pop music is?…

    Splicing was common throughout much of classical music recording’s history. In the analog days it was done with tape and a razor blade. Classical bass player Robert Meyer, who was a member of the London Philharmonic and other well-known orchestras, wr…

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