In the years 1895 to 1902, the gramophone grew from a noisy toy to an instrument capable of recreating and preserving serious performances of great music. At first, the field was occupied solely by Emile Berliner, its inventor, and his associates, but there were soon competitors. Thus, probably in 1899, the first Zonophone Record appeared. As with Berlinerís records, information was inscribed by hand direct in to the recording medium; sometimes made more legible by filling in with white paint. Soon both companies improved the appearance of their products with black paper labels printed in gold. Colored labels indicating higher status, at suitably higher prices, rapidly followed. Aggressive rivalry developed between Zonophone and theRead more Gramophone & Typewriter Company, as Berlinerís group had become. Zonophone was signing celebrity artists that G & T regarded as its own, Plancon and Caruso, for example, and was known to be negotiating with others, such as De Lucia and Tamagno. G & T responded by buying out Zonophone. This album offers a selection of operatic repertoire from Zonophoneís European catalog from the years 1901 to 1903. Most of the artists represented were regarded by Zonophone as worthy of issue with its higher-price pale blue labels (in France sometimes orange). Most of the records are of extreme rarity, a number of them very likely unique, thus the listenerís indulgence may be needed in a few cases where perfect copies are probably unknown. Read less
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