The Berliner Project

Project: Crowdsource Berliners!

Generously funded by The Stratton Trust The Berliner Project has taken two years scan.   We are beginning to put copies of the labels of our collection of around 18 000 thousand Berliners that we have in the EMI Archives on to our Flickr account. Information about these recordings is incomplete. We invite students of the different styles of music that are contained on these discs to look at them and post any information they might have to help us create a database about these recordings.

You can see our collection of Berliners on Flickr, here.

The Berliner Project

The earliest commercial disc recordings were made towards the end of the 19th century by the Berliner Gramophone Company (the forerunner of The Gramophone Company). Small pressing runs, coupled with the wear on the discs by the primitive gramophones of the day, makes them extremely rare. Few collectors have more than a handful.  The EMI Group Archive Trust holds what must be the largest collection of Berliners in the world – almost 18,000! Most of these were collected by The Gramophone Company’s veteran A & R manager, Fred Gaisberg. During his ‘Grand Tours’ across Europe, Asia and the Far East, he recorded huge numbers of locally (and sometimes internationally known) performers.  This unique collection encompasses every field of audible performing activity, from folk songs and local dialect recitations to grand opera. As such it encompasses musical styles, dialects, languages and ways of life long vanished. They are a fascinating window on a lost age, which up until the beginning of the 20th century, had remained largely untouched for hundreds of years.  Until now, the practicalities of fully cataloguing this collection have prevented progress. There are no company ledgers extant for that period, and the information etched on the surface of the discs by hand, is in many cases very difficult to read (even if you are an expert in 19th Century Nepalese!) Now however, the ability to create, store and distribute high resolution digital images is making the creation of a catalogue into a reality.

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