Deutsche Grammophon (DG), the world’s oldest and most renowned classical music label, is celebrating its landmark 120th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, DG and Google Arts & Culture are creating digitized versions of rediscovered and previously unreleased tracks from rare surviving Galvano metal masters. These masters were recorded in the early 1900s and found deep in the vaults of the label’s archives.
The initiative, titled The Shellac Project, will see 400 digitized shellac records released over the next several months. These will include early recordings by the legendary jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin, Austrian-born violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler, and iconic Russian author Leo Tolstoy giving a rare reading of one of his novels. The first 40 tracks of The Shellac Project have already been released, including an early recording of “St. Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra. Click here to listen to these tracks.
This recording of “St. Louis Blues” resulted from an early studio session in Paris, France, and was originally released via the French music label Brunswick. The tracks from this session are known among Armstrong scholars but have always been available in inferior, muffled quality. DG licensed the songs back in 1934 and kept the metal masters until today. They can now be heard in unprecedented quality.
The records will all be made available through DG’s own channels, the Google Arts & Culture platform, and via partner streaming platforms. In addition, DG has curated 12 online exhibitions on the Google Arts & Culture platform through which users can learn more about the label, its artists, how records are made, and its founder, Emil Berliner, the German-born American citizen who invented the gramophone and founded the label in 1898 as the German branch of his Berliner Gramophone company.
For more information regarding other activities celebrating DG’s 120th anniversary, go to https://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/