The Archive of Recorded Sound recently held its first ever listening party on October 17th. We were thrilled to welcome over 40 attendees to the event here at the Archive, who were invited to flick through multiple boxes of duplicate 78rpm records, dating from approximately 1900-1940, to select those they would like to hear played on our 1925 Victrola Credenza, just one example from our magnificent phonograph collection here at the Archive which dates from 1904-1930. More details about this collection, including images and demonstration videos, are now available on our website.
Partygoers had the opportunity to listen to at least one of their choices, and what choices they were! Those gathered were treated to over two hours of fantastic selections, including a 1926 recording of the Prelude from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, performed by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alfred Hertz; a popular Russian folk song entitled Stenka Rasin; and recordings by Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, and Jelly Roll Morton.
In addition to these commercially released 78s, examples of digitized rare materials from the Archive's collection were also made available for attendees to audition in the Archive's studio. Recordings chosen here included a performance of Clarinet Marmalade by the Dixie All Stars from the very first set of the inaugural Monterey Jazz Festival in 1958, part of the Monterey Jazz Festival Collection; a performance, also from the Monterey Jazz Festival, of Rey Del Timbal by Tito Puente and His Orchestra from 1982, featuring a very young Adrian Areas as guest percussionist; the 1960 New York premiere of Richard Maxfield's Cough Music, part of the Richard Maxfield Collection; the Seattle based premiere of John Cage's First Construction (in metal) from 1939, part of the Archive's John Cage Disc Collection; the world premiere of Henry Cowell's Rhythmicana, performed at Stanford in 1971; and finally a performance by Claudio Arrau of Debussy's Estampes No.1, captured at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, CA in 1981, part of the Ambassador Auditorium Collection.
Given the fantastic response we received for this inaugural event, the Archive will be planning further such parties in the future, as part of a regular series of events aimed at bringing students and faculty into the Archive to discover not only the richness of our collections, but also to connect with Archive staff in order to better understand how we can help our patrons. We also hope to curate some thematically focused listening parties in coordination with future initiatives organized by Stanford Arts and other groups on campus.