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Long Lost Edison Recordings Restored

The great voices of history are often said to echo down through the generations. But as the New York Times reports, sometimes those voices are more than just a metaphor:

Tucked away for decades in a cabinet in Thomas Edison’s laboratory, just behind the cot in which the great inventor napped, a trove of wax cylinder phonograph records has been brought back to life after more than a century of silence.

The cylinders, from 1889 and 1890, include the only known recording of the voice of the powerful chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Two preserve the voice of Helmuth von Moltke, a venerable German military strategist, reciting lines from Shakespeare and from Goethe’s “Faust” into a phonograph horn. . . . Other records found in the collection hold musical treasures — lieder and rhapsodies performed by German and Hungarian singers and pianists at the apex of the Romantic era, including what is thought to be the first recording of a work by Chopin.

For our part, Via Meadia would like to hear the recording of Bismarck reciting “lines from the French national anthem.” Perhaps Chancellor Merkel can play them to entertain French audiences when she makes her promised campaign appearances with President Sarkozy.

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  • Kris

    I demand that all work on the cylinders cease until we have fully worked through all of the intellectual property issues!

    Also, since you bring it up again, I’ll take the opportunity to state that there is nothing untoward about Merkel’s backing of Sarkozy. After all, this is the European Union. They’re all one big happy polity. (Well, maybe not that happy.)


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