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Re: [ARSCLIST] appraisal

At 08:26 AM 3/3/2004 -0600, you wrote:
Since we are on the subject...

I wonder, what if one encoutered a collector who had a sole surviving copy
of a performance by a major performing organization, say the Boston

The following is not a theoretical matter but a practical one. Unfortunately, I've not been able to persuade my friend either to get answers to the legal issues or adequately to protect the masters.

When he was mustered out of the army in 1945, my friend joined the NBC
Symphony and remained with them until they finally disbanded. He was also
an audio engineer and, among other things, 'moonlighted' with RCA and
maintained Toscanini's sound system. Following the Maestro's death, there
was a memorial concert at Carnegie Hall on 3 February 1957 in which Charles
Munch conducted "La Mer"; Pierre Monteux conducted "Enigma Variations"; and
Bruno Walter led the Beethoven 3rd Symphony.

Dave 'got permission' to install a pair of mikes and to record the concert
in excellent stereo sound. What rights he obtained, how they are documented
and related legal issues are beneath his notice. The Eroica has apparently
been released semi-commercially from some source, but since his tapes were
unplayed until a couple of years ago (when two CD transfers were made, one
for him and one for me), I presume that that came from some other recording.

My friend was at first offended, then contrite when I pointed out that he
had saturated the recording when he did the ADC. He plans to redo the
transfer whenever he has time. Until then, he assures me that that tape is
among those he has high enough that it won't be flooded out if his home
gets another deluge (he lost about 30% of his masters a few years ago when
the waters rose). He's only about 80 now and he gets a good day or two each
week (relief from medical problems), so he'll probably redo the concert
within the next decade or two at the rate he's going. And, of course, those
questions of rights are not important to him because he doesn't plan to
sell or to release the material.

Nor does he plan to do anything with his other recordings - much of the
RCA/NBC classical and jazz programming of the latter 40s and 50s, plus some
of the non-broadcast material since he had come to know the musicians so well.

At any rate, from the half dozen tapes he's digitized and sent me on CD, I
know that the collection is priceless. Unfortunately, when his time comes,
they are likely to be scrapped. His wife has long decried his wasting time
on this sort of thing and I doubt that others could persuade her to do much
with the assortment. My guess is that they won't be passed along to an
institution, but even if they were to be, how could such material be evaluated?

Incidentally, he used true state-of-the-art recording hardware, usually
better than could be bought. As the audio director for broadcasts, he
picked up the signal before the exciter. He sent me a couple of CDs from
"Producer's Showcase" programs. One had been released on LaserDisc and the
comparison was painful. The commercial release sounded typical of
kinescopes of the era; my friend's tape sounded close to a Westminster Lab
Series LP.

Sorry for the anecdote, but I wanted to share my frustration. He hasn't
even catalogued his tapes, let alone investigated questions of rights. And
he's quite stubborn enough to refuse to do so right up to the end.

Mike -- mrichter@xxxxxxx http://www.mrichter.com/

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