Lost music

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Harrie Berkhout has one of the best collections of 78rpm records with classical pre-war violin music. Since this genre is not really my specialty, I have to take his word for it. In his enthusiasm for this music Harrie has gotten me into helping with starting a CD-label, on which he wants to publish some of the rarest records from his collection. That means records that are not known to exist. Well, I may not care very much for classical pre-war violin music, I do care about records that are so rare that even the most fanatic collectors don’t know they exist!
The first CD will contain records made by anonymous violinists. In the early days of recording music, people just wanted to hear tunes and the musicians were not always mentioned on the labels. The second CD will a compilation of extremely rare records made by Dutch violinists. Well, recorded by violinists in Holland. Most of the classical violin players in this Lost Music Project were Jews that didn’t really have a home country. But the records on the second CD were all made in Holland, and some of the musicians were truly Dutch.
My contribution to this project is to filter down Harrie’s flood of information into a readable text and to do the design of the booklets, labels, ads, posters, etcetera. Harrie is a walking library when it comes to this music. He knows every record and has read every book and article. He even owns a lot of original letters, diaries, manuscripts and pictures. It will take some time before the first CD will see the light, but if you want to be sure of a copy, you can contact Harrie. The project will be founded by Friends of the Lost Music Library; it is not clear what Friends have to pay and will get in return, but if you are interested, be sure your name is on the list. Harrie thinks that there are about 250 people worldwide, who are going to buy these CD’s. But there can only be 100 Friends.
I don’t think that among the readers of this Soundtrack there will be a lot of enthusiasts for pre-war classical violin music, so I choose a violinist from my own collection. (Sorry Harrie, I know you hate this!) It is a song from a cassette tape that was part of the Radiola Archive there was no info on the tape, but it contains 14 tracks. On the most of the tracks there is only somebody playing a violin, but there are also songs with piano, cello and somebody beating the rhythm with his/her hands on the table. In between the songs, or probably improvisations, you can hear somebody walking and moving around with instruments. I have no idea how good this music is, but to my ears this sounds as a well trained musician.