History of Liederkranz Hall (RCA, CBS)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DMortensen, Feb 6, 2016.

  1. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    [MODERATOR NOTE: Many posts here were moved from the sprawling thread about the history of CBS' 30th Street Studios in an effort to keep that thread more focused on 30th Street, without having multiple tangents regarding Liederkranz Hall.]

    The Plaut Collection:

    For the past few days I've been diligently working on correlating the pictures that I intook (is that a word) at Yale in October with the index that is in each folder for its contents. After three days and about 15 hours I'm through two boxes and into a third (out of 16). Sheesh!

    Although it is very time consuming and particular, it's been fascinating to learn about these opera and other people who I have never heard of but who had quite significant careers and influence. (I learned a long time ago that whether or not I have heard of somebody says more about me than it does about them.)

    The other interesting thing is that most but not all of these early sessions were not in 30th St, although the ones that we've talked about here that look like they might be are actually at Liederkranz Hall. It is quite surprising to see the similarities in design and style between the two, and I've learned a few things today that I want to share with you.

    First of all, if you've read the thread you might recall some pictures of a Paul Robeson session that I hoped were at 30th St but which lukpac clearly said were at Liederkranz. I believed it and still do, but have some more perspective of what that hall might have been like. Here are some more Robeson pictures from the same session but different than what you've already seen. Note that I'm using my phone as a personal hot spot, so I've dialed the resolution back a bit so the file sizes are manageable but I think you can still see the space.

    [​IMG]

    This first one is of Robeson and his accompanist (anyone know who?). At the far right of the frame dead center through a considerable opening in the wall we can see the right side of what looks like a control room window. That side looks squared off. We've seen that before. (Extra points if you can find the Plaut dog in the picture.)

    Next is a view of Robeson leaning on the piano, looking across the width of the piano.

    [​IMG]

    Hey, there's another control room window! And it's the funny one with two pieces of glass forming a corner.

    Here's a more side-on view:

    [​IMG]

    These are partners in music and life Rae Davidson and Ethel Bartlett. You can clearly see the corner of the windows and the flat facing on the control room, as opposed to the polycylindrical diffusors on the walls. And also as opposed to the polycylindrical diffusors that were on the control room wall at 30th St. after January 1949 but before December 1949 until they were removed in or slightly before March 1956.

    Here's the best view of the inside of that corner that I've seen today:

    [​IMG]

    This is Gian Carlo Menotti on the right (I think; here's the wikipedia article about him Gian Carlo Menotti - Wikipedia ) who wrote the opera "The Telephone" in 1947. This picture must have been taken around then, as the woman is Marilyn Cotlow who is best remembered for originating the role of Lucy in that opera, and the guy in the middle is Frank Rogier her co-star in it.

    Two more pictures in the next post.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2017
    Bob F, bluemooze and lukpac like this.
  2. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    [​IMG]

    This is Charles O'Connell, who I learned today was a composer and conductor and was the director of Columbia Masterworks from 1944-47. One would think this picture (one of a series) is taken before 1947, both because he is in it and because Liederkranz was converted to TV studios in 1948 , or at least that's the date in this thread and the only one I could find just now.

    The singer he is hiding is Helen Traubel, who was a singer with the Metropolitan Opera. Maybe this is an Opera session? I don't know yet.

    The interesting thing is all the scaffold in the back. As mentioned here, there are lots of Liederkranz pictures full of scaffolding, but not the Robeson pictures. It will fun trying to find the dates of the scaffolding. One would think it might coincide with the TV transformation, but who knows?

    Look at the curtain to the left of the control room.

    Wait, there is no curtain. Rats, this wasn't the picture I wanted to show you. But I'm going to leave it because it's kind of a neat picture (haven't seen that lower microphone frame before, and the upper one is kind of bashed, which is better seen in other pictures that I won't show now. Maybe that's why they stopped using those lousy RCA mics....) and shows a Columbia official we haven't talked about in this thread yet. And it has the best shot of the scaffolding. Some day I'll compare all scaffolding to see if there were multiple sets in multiple places or only one in one place. And what was it for?

    This is the picture I wanted to show:

    [​IMG]

    It's another view of the two piano session posted above. Now look at the curtain; is that some kind of construction curtain? The walls look mighty fresh...

    This is a Sinatra/Axel Stordahl session in Liederkranz; anyone know which one and when?

    [​IMG]

    I think this is the other control room, although the clock placement made me think it was the same one. You can almost see the right edge of the window frame, and there's no angled glass, is there? The door to the control room is on the left, I couldn't see a door to the one with the angled glass.

    Ah, here's one:

    [​IMG]

    Different door, unless they remodeled. So two control rooms. Interesting, huh?

    That last picture is the singer Carol Brice, with conductor/composer/cellist Daniel Saidenberg. He seems to be best known for owning an Art Gallery with his wife Eleanore Block Saidenberg which was the exclusive Picasso gallery in the US or NYC at least for quite some time. Since I have capacity for one more picture in this post, here's one from that same session with a stylish and beautiful but unidentified woman talking with a photographer:

    [​IMG]

    Daniel and his wife met when she had him do the music for a ballet program she put together; this lady looks like a ballet dancer to me. Don't know who the photographer is. I know he's a photographer because he's taking pictures in other pictures.

    If you can't tell, I'm getting dingy tonight and will stop now. Hope you enjoy the pics. Feel free to comment about Liedenkranz.

    Oh, I found an article of the history of Liederkranz with an interesting take on Columbia's role as well as complete news to me about RCA's role:

    http://www.vjm.biz/new_page_3.htm

    I sent the author an email with a little more information about Columbia's role in the studio, as well as a link to this thread. It would be fun to hear from him, he sounds pretty interesting to me and seems to look at things pretty closely; I bet he'd fit in here.
     
    Bob F, bluemooze, 2xUeL and 1 other person like this.
  3. Walter H

    Walter H Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire, USA
    It's a guess, but Lawrence Brown played for Robeson since at least 1925 (on Victor 78s) and recorded with him for Columbia too. Brown also sang with Robeson on some of his records (both Victor and Columbia) and the mic placement in that picture looks right to capture the pianist's vocals.
     
    DMortensen and bluemooze like this.
  4. bmoregnr

    bmoregnr Forum Resident

    Location:
    1060 W.Addison
    Wow fantastic photographs. I am in awe and have to go back and re-read everything I was so mesmerized by those; kudos to your transfer process.
     
  5. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Note that's not through an opening in the wall, that's a mirror. The control room seen in that photograph is actually behind the photographer to the left. I believe we're just seeing the left side of it in the reflection.
     
    bluemooze likes this.
  6. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    !

    That must be a 16' x 8' mirror!

    Really? Are all those arches backed with mirrors?
     
  7. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yes. There are a few other shots (probably in this thread) where it's immediately apparent they are mirrors. Camera flashes, chairs, etc.
     
  8. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Looking through a couple of boxes of thumbnails doesn't show anything to immediately disprove you. In fact this shot of Isaac Stern simultaneously potentially backs you up and disproves bmoregnr's thesis that the pictures quality is awesome. There are a lot of clunkers in the batch, although I think some of it is due to the state of some of the negatives. Some were crisp and clear and black black and white white and all grays in between, while others, many others, were various shades of brown. That was kind of weird.

    Anyway, here's the pic

    [​IMG]

    I could believe that is a giant crack in a mirror just to the left of the arch with the door.
     
    bluemooze likes this.
  9. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't recall seeing that particular photo before, but yes, looks like a crack in the mirror to me.
     
  10. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Walter H, you never fail to amaze me with the depth of your offhand knowledge.

    Here's another look at him.

    [​IMG]

    He frankly looks like he doesn't take mess from anybody, in this pic.

    There's a wikipedia entry for Lawrence Benjamin Brown who played with Paul Robeson and who retired when Robeson's career ended, but no pictures. Recording for RCA is mentioned but not Columbia.

    Here are a couple more mystery men that perhaps you can identify:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I think I could have done a little more contrast to these; don't think I touched them and I'm too tired now.
     
    bluemooze and lukpac like this.
  11. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm no help for ID, Dan, in this shot you can clearly see it's a mirror. It doesn't go to the floor, and you can see the reflections of the music stand, the two subjects, and Fred right in the middle.
     
    bluemooze, bmoregnr and DMortensen like this.
  12. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Dang, that's pretty neat! I haven't been looking at these pics at all since December, and not much then or before. It's frustrating to have so much indexing to do and not have it done, but I really feel like it's almost a waste of time to look at them without knowing what is known about them and what is still unknown. When so much is unknown, as it is for me being unfamiliar with so many people in them, all that's understood is what's visible on the very obvious level, and it wouldn't occur to me to be looking for mirrors.

    Mirrors are a most unusual acoustical treatment for one of the best sounding recording rooms ever. I wouldn't be looking for the waterfall on the ceiling, either, or comprehending what it was when I saw it.
     
    lukpac likes this.
  13. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    OK, here I am at work again and this is the first folder I've gone through, which is Ezio Pinza at the session for the opera "Boris Godunov". What do you know but there are interesting things in Liederkranz, and they look nothing like what we saw in the Robeson pictures.

    [​IMG]

    Here he is standing in the studio with that angled window visible behind him to our left. But the angled part doesn't look like a window, it looks like plywood or something.

    That blurp in the lower left is a fingerprint on the negative, which is a reminder to you that I did no cleaning or anything to the negatives, and I left them in their transparent archival sleeves so dust and little moire patterns are visible in many. I left the sprocket holes on this one to prove that I am actually focused on the film; not sure why so many pictures look so foggy and don't want to exclusively blame the brown negatives.

    Anyway, here it is from the inside, same session:

    [​IMG]

    From here it looks like a drape or masking paper or something. But it's not just a normal drape hanging there, it looked pretty precise and limited in size in the front picture. Could it be protecting that part of the window from something?

    Don't know who the fellow on the left is, or who that conductor in the first picture is. The choices from the index of people present are:

    Wilfred Pelletier;
    Raoul Jobin;
    Emil Cooper.

    Consulting my friend Barney Google gives pictures of those three people that I'm not going to post here, but none of them look like either of the people we've seen. Wilfred looks closer, but this other picture from the same session looks more like him to me.

    [​IMG]

    His hair looks white in this one and black in the first picture, so I'm assuming both pics are not the same person.

    Here's another shot of Ezio up on the podium and looking at the musicians:

    [​IMG]

    Damn, that wall treatment looks brand new, doesn't it?

    [​IMG]

    And there's the scaffold, rolled out onto the floor next to the brand-new looking wall and polycylindrical diffusors.

    I'm going to guess that we're seeing the studio in the midst of a remodel, and that it is after CBS bought the building from the Liederkranz society.

    If you go to the Liederkranz Club's history website (they still exist but another 30 or 40 blocks uptown) http://www.liederkranzny.org/history.html , and if you read carefully and don't skip one line in the dense paragraph like I did the first couple times, you'll learn that their membership took a huge hit during WWII and they were forced to sell their old building. Although it doesn't say to whom or on what date, I think we know close enough.

    So this is the conversion to a state of the art (for the time) recording studio and must be after the mirrors and arches were removed. Yes?

    And it must have been before the purchase of 30th St., which was acquired to compensate for the loss of Liederkranz to TV studios. Right?

    So they must have torn all this out a very few years after when they went to TV. Just had a thought: could they have trucked all the acoustic stuff over to 30th St. and put it up there? Don't know how we could tell.

    You would think that this opera recording would be in the AFM sheets, but I just went through from 1946-50 and it wasn't there. Anybody know when this was recorded?

    Well, there went an hour. My cellphone internet connection is lousy today; must be people watching the Super Bowl here. So that's it for my posting till I'm home.

    Back to the indexing for the next 8 or 10 hours.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
    bluemooze, lukpac and Turmatic like this.
  14. mdr30

    mdr30 Active Member

    Location:
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    O'Connell's recording memoirs are a great read, and very revealing about the stars and divas.
     
    bluemooze and DMortensen like this.
  15. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Lots of the pictures that I looked at so far have been before the time of 30th St, and so I assume they are in Liederkranz. This series seems to be before the remodel that we saw above, and they are a little confusing or perhaps a little enlightening. This and my next post will both be from the same folder in the Plaut collection, but I think they are two different locations.

    [​IMG]

    This first one is apparently of the conductor Ray Noble, and shows some of his surroundings in reasonable detail. The window and door to the right of him look to me like that in Liederkranz before the remodel, and there is a tantalizing hint of some pillar decoration on the left edge of the picture.

    This next one

    [​IMG]

    shows a little more detail on that pillar, and the decoration seems clearly painted and what I would imagine might be in a German place.

    The next one

    [​IMG]

    is clearly in the same location and is part of the same series. Because of that, I think it's the Ray Noble Orchestra, which is the backing group for a number of vocalist sessions that I've seen in the AFM recording reports. This picture shows several of the painted pillar/wall decorations.

    Have we seen these decorations before, and do we know they are in Liederkranz Hall?

    I presume that this gorgeous hunk of man

    [​IMG]

    is the vocalist for the session. You can barely see the decorations behind the nape of his neck, but I can't tell if the musicians are the same as in the previous picture.

    Here's another one of him with Ray Noble in the control room

    [​IMG]

    Any ideas who he is?

    Before leaving this post and moving on to the next, since we've reached our 5 picture limit, let me say that I just realized I forgot to credit the pictures provenance in the posts over the weekend, which is from MSS 52, The Frederick and Rose Plaut Papers in the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library of Yale University, gathered with the help of Richard Boursey and Emily Ferrigno, wonderful librarians. My apologies for omitting that.
     
    bluemooze and lukpac like this.
  16. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Only an educated guess, but my hunch is these are both looking in the same general direction, before and after remodeling. Before:

    After:

    The second shot is at more of an angle, but it seems both are looking at the back wall. The original ornamental detail having been painted over or otherwise covered up.
     
    DMortensen likes this.
  17. Walter H

    Walter H Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire, USA
    Pinza's album of Boris Godunov selections was conducted by Emil Cooper. No chorus in the picture, so this must be 22 December 1944. The Met chorus (Giacomo Spadoni, chorus master) participated in the 23 December session.

    I agree that the third picture is one of the Canadian maestro Wilfrid Pelletier. Google image search shows his consistent preference for bow ties!
     
    DMortensen likes this.
  18. Walter H

    Walter H Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire, USA
    Picture 2: could that be Joe Glaser, manager of (among others) Louis Armstrong and Sugar Ray Robinson? Not at all sure. Other pictures show him with dark eyebrows, but maybe it's the lack of contrast that's washed them out of the picture?

    Picture 3 looks like a familiar face, but one I can't place.
     
  19. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Here's another shot of him from the Plaut collection:

    [​IMG]

    Here's one from the Internet:

    [​IMG]

    The exactness isn't jumping out at me, particularly the eyes, but I think it was a very good guess that only looking at both maybe disproves.

    What do you think?

    Please keep the guesses coming.
     
    Walter H likes this.
  20. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Regarding our Liederkrantz tangents, @MLutthans posted some Sinatra photos in another thread that I'll repost here:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    More photos and discussion in that thread.

    The session in question was apparently in October 1947. Post-remodel (polycylindrical diffusors, angled control room window, etc), but note the curtains and mirrors are still in place.

    Perhaps Matt has more dated photos from Liederkrantz that can help nail down approximately when that remodel occurred.
     
  21. Bob F

    Bob F Forum Resident

    Specifically: October 22, 1947, from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., as confirmed by the lead sheet for the song "Laura."
     
    bluemooze, DMortensen and MLutthans like this.
  22. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Matt wasn't sure if it was the 22nd or the 19th, hence the wording I used.
     
  23. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Additional Liederkrantz shots from the same session:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Bob F, bluemooze, 2xUeL and 2 others like this.
  24. Bob F

    Bob F Forum Resident

    He based that on the apparent presence of both Dick Jones and George Siravo, both of whose charts were recorded on the 19th, along with a third by Axel Stordahl who conducted. Strange that the music for "Laura" is on the stands, though, since that was recorded three nights later on the 22nd (with all Stordahl arrangements).
     
    MLutthans likes this.
  25. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    It's funny that the top color one and the bottom b&w one are the same picture but the color one has the clock edited out. Wonder why someone would do that?

    Great pics, though.

    The second one with the widest view makes me think that the lighting source is multiple flash units, which provide pools of light in a black space. So many of those early pics are like that; was it due to very slow film needing lots of light? So in the later pictures where the whole room is lit up in a much less specific way, we get to see more because of the advances in film technology?
     

Share This Page