Today marks the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and death, and is also St. George’s Day. To mark the first of these, there are two quite different Shakespeare recordings from 78s, which are linked by a review in Gramophone magazine. Then there’s a set of Linguaphone recordings of John Gielgud performing Shakespeare. This is different to the set that has appeared here previously (though he does perform some of the same excerpts.)

Today is also the anniversary of the birth of the conductor Albert Coates, so I present here his 1926 recording of Siegfried’s Funeral March from Götterdämmerung.

Shakespeare – As You Like It: Rosalind’s Speech, Act III, Scene V
Miss Margaret Littlefair,
actor
Shakespeare – Twelfth Night: Garden Scene Duologue, Olivia and Viola, Act III, Scene 1
Miss Winifred Cain,
actor
Miss Bronwen Rees, actor

Shakespeare – As You Like It: Rosalind’s Speech – Littlefair

Shakespeare – Twelfth Night: Garden Scene – Cain, Rees

(mp3 files – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Columbia 4396
Matrices WA 3717-3, 3715-2 (23549, 23547)
Recorded 1927
Available from June 1927

Paul Berton, BA, BCI, FGSM, Professor of Dramatic Art and Declamation at the Guildhall School of Music, with the aid of some of his students, made the following 8 recordings demonstrating his principle of “Logical-Rhetorical Dissection of Speech”

This is the third of four records. This set was roundly demolished in a review in Gramophone in August 1927:

You all know the lines about little victims heedless of their doom, and here have I been sitting hard at work to-day quite unaware of the doom in store for me in a little heap of unplayed records. This afternoon the blow fell. I have played them all through, and if I say that they are more depressing than any recent weather forecast I shall actually be understating their effect. These records, four in number from Columbia, are announced as follows :–” TRAINING FOR SPEAKING. A Series of Columbia Records of Declamatory Art Demonstrating the Logical-Rhetorical Dissection of Speech by the Students of Paul Berton, B.A., etc., Professor of the Guildhall School of Music.”

…I find in these four records every fault of the professional elocutionist. It is all very well to dissect Shakespeare, but there is surely no reason why he should be murdered first, for murdered he is by these pupils of Mons. Paul Berton. Miss Winifred Cain has a really good voice; if she were properly taught she might make a good Shakespearian actress, and I am not sure that something might not be made of Miss Bronwen Rees. But no amount of logical-rhetorical dissection can compensate for the monotonous two notes, which is all that Mons. Berton seems to allow his pupils. I am aware that most Rosalinds rebuke their Phoebes in the style of a coy governess, but this particular version of the speech by Miss Margaret Littlefair outdoes all previous Rosalinds.

…It is dreadful to think what may be going on under our ears all the time without our being aware of it. I don’t know how long Mons. Berton has been a professor of declamation and dramatic art at the Guildhall School of Music, but he has evidently been there long enough to write a book about it, and a fine nonsensical piece of work it seems to be, to judge by the extracts. I had never thought of the Guildhall School of Music as a dangerous institution until I played through these records to-day.

….these elocutionary records are not a success, and I shall not send any of my young friends to the Guildhall School of Music. Does Shakespeare pay ? No, and he never will pay until we can get somebody to act him. Mr. Basil Maine the other night read three or four lines from Shakespeare so well that I wish he would record John of Gaunt’s glorious speech. Then there is the chief announcer of the B.B.C. He knows how to read. It is all very fine to have a Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, but we shall soon have to start a Society for the Protection of Ancient Poetry, with appeals to The Times signed by Mr. J. C. Squire, etc., calling on the public to help in preserving Hamlet’s soliloquies from logical rhetorical dissection. Columbia ! Columbia ! Why did you publish these records ?

The Gramophone reviewer’s request was soon answered, as Basil Maine made a number of recordings, both for HMV in 1929, and for Parlophone a little later, including John o’Gaunt’s speech from Richard II.

Shakespeare – Richard II – John o’Gaunt’s Speech
Shakespeare – Macbeth – The Dagger Speech
Basil Maine,
actor

Shakespeare – Richard II – John o’Gaunt –  Maine

Shakespeare – Macbeth – Dagger – Maine

(mp3 files – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Parlophone E5987
Matrices W1549, W1550
Recorded c1930

Around 1930, John Gielgud recorded a number of Shakespearian excerpts for Linguaphone. These were issued on five 78s, and have been available on this site before, but they are available to download again below. Some years later, Gielgud recorded again for Linguaphone, another set of five 78s. He is named as Sir John Gielgud on the labels, which places the records no earlier than 1953. There are a few overlaps with the earlier set, but most selections are new. In both sets, the records are numbered only by matrix – there are no disc numbers.

Shakespeare – excerpts from plays and Sonnets – Sir John Gielgud

Mediafire link for Shakespeare – excerpts – Gielgud (c1953)

(This is a zip file – left click the link, download the file, then unzip when downloaded)

Linguaphone – Shakespeare Series A
Matrices given below
Recorded c1953

ENG 242-2 – Much Ado About Nothing (Act 2, Scene 3)
ENG 243-2 – King Richard the Second (Act 3, Scene 2); Sonnet XXX
ENG 244 – King Richard the Second (Act 3, Scene 3); King Henry the Fifth (Act 1, Scene 1)
ENG 245 – Romeo and Juliet (Act 1, Scene 4)
ENG 246-2 – Romeo and Juliet (Act 5, Scene 3); Cymbeline (Act 4, Scene 2)
ENG 247 – Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2)
ENG 248 – Hamlet (Act 4, Scene 4); Measure for Measure (Act 2, Scene 2)
ENG 249-2 – Richard II (Act 3, Scene 3)
ENG 250-2 – Henry V (Act 4, Scene 1)
ENG 251-2 – Macbeth (Act 1, Scene 7); Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5); The Tempest (Act 4, Scene 1)

Shakespeare – excerpts from plays and Sonnets – John Gielgud

Mediafire link for Shakespeare – excerpts – Gielgud (c1930)

(This is a zip file – left click the link, download the file, then unzip when downloaded)

Linguaphone – Shakespearian Records by John Gielgud
Matrices given below
Recorded c1930

EEG.28E – The Merchant of Venice – Gratiano’s Speech (Act 1, Scene 1); As You Like It – Jaques’ Speech (Act 2, Scene 7)
EEG.29E – King Richard the Second – John of Gaunt’s Speech (Act 2, Scene 1); Sonnet CXVI
EEG.30E – As You Like It – Jaques’ Speech (Act 2, Scene 7); The Tempest – Prospero’s Speech (Act 4, Scene 1)
EEG.32E – King Henry the Fifth – King Henry’s Speech (Act 2, Scene 1); King Henry the Fourth – Hotspur’s Speech (Act 1, Scene 3)
EEG.33E – Othello – Othello’s Speech (Act 1, Scene 3)
EEG.34E – Hamlet – Hamlet’s Speech (Act 2, Scene 2)
EEG.35E – Hamlet – Hamlet’s Speech (Act 4, Scene 4); Sonnet XVIII
EEG.36E – Richard II – King Richard’s Speech (Act 3, Scene 3)
EEG.37E – Henry V – King Henry’s Speech (Act 4, Scene 3)
EEG.38E – Midsummer Night’s Dream – Oberon’s Speech (Act 3, Scene 1); Oberon’s Speech (Act 3, Scene 2); Puck’s Speech (Act 3, Scene 2)

Albert Coates is without doubt one of my favourite conductors, though I haven’t featured him here very much at all. To celebrate his birthday, I’ve remastered his 1926 recording of Siegfried’s Funeral March from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.

Wagner – The Twilight of the Gods – Siegfried’s Funeral March
Symphony Orchestra, Albert Coates

Wagner – The Twilight of the Gods – Funeral March – Coates

(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

His Master’s Voice D1092
Matrices CR 217-II, 141-III (4-0837/8)
Recorded 26th March, 25th January 1926, Queen’s Hall, London