Category: Restoration & Preservation

3 Interesting Facts about Sergei Rachmaninoff

By , June 13, 2016 8:15 am

Sergei Rachmaninoff Playing PianoWhile digitizing recordings by Sergei Rachmaninoff at the Recorded Sound Archives, we found some interesting facts about Rachmaninoff that you may not of known. Such as did you know….

1. Rachmaninoff was twice offered the position of conductor at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He refused both times.

2. Aside from being a magnificent composer, Rachmaninoff was also a man of strong moral character. In 1912, Rachmaninoff resigned from his position as vice-president of the Russian Musical Society in protest to a musician being dismissed from his duties because he was Jewish.

3. Rachmaninoff’s last piano recital included Chopin’s Sonata no. 2, which includes a famous funeral march. Rachmaninoff died 40 days after performing the funeral march. Rachmaninoff’s composition All Night Vigil was sung at his funeral.

Want to learn more about Sergei Rachmaninoff and his music?

Click here to listen to over 40 recordings that have been digitized and learn more about the life of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Translations of Russian Music Titles Allowed FAU Graduate to Give Back

By , May 24, 2016 12:51 pm

Russian Music Titles TranslatedBOCA RATON, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2016)  ─ A year before Ekaterina Pervova graduated from Florida Atlantic University, she went to the Wimberly Library’s Recorded Sound Archives (RSA) and inquired about a volunteer assignment. One of the 19-year-old’s first assignments was translating the titles of classical music recordings from Russian into English. Pervova, who was later hired as a student worker at the RSA, can’t imagine a more rewarding use of her free time.

“I think that Florida Atlantic University has given me so much that it was important to find a way to give something back,” said Pervova, who in May earned a B.S. degree in psychology from FAU. “It was an amazing opportunity. I am very grateful.”

Volunteers have always been an integral part of FAU Libraries, but a couple of years ago, the Wimberly Library’s staff noticed more students were inquiring about volunteer assignments. Carol Hixson, Dean of University Libraries, supports such involvement, and in fact, has organized a program to recruit and involve students in meaningful volunteer roles throughout the library.

“Some of our students have free time throughout the day and many of them spend a great deal of that time in the library,” said Hixson. “We encourage students to take advantage of volunteer and internship opportunities within the Libraries as a way of learning more about our collections and services and gaining some practical experience to help them after graduation. We consider such opportunities to be another way we can contribute to our students’ success and keep them engaged with the University as alumni.”

The RSA, a robust digitization operation for all types of sound recordings that have been gifted to FAU, was a perfect match for Pervova. She credits her grandmothers, one a nuclear physicist and the other an economist, with introducing her to art at an early age. Both grandmothers love music, enjoy opera and the ballet, and always had the TV on an entertainment show when Pervova visited.

“They encouraged me to participate in singing, painting, dancing, sculpting and other arts,” said Pervova. “They would always take me to theaters and museums and they continue to find tickets when I visit them in Moscow.”

Many of the recordings that Pervova translates for the RSA are folk songs from 1910, while others are from the early 1950s and 1960s. She remembers hearing many of the recordings during childhood and at family celebrations in Russia.

“When I see something I know, I start humming it and I think back to a time when I heard that song,” said Pervova.

The biggest challenge Pervova faces while translating the music titles is trying to find a word-for-word translation. Many of the songs she is translating are about the culture of the Russian people and do not make sense outside of the Russian culture. She knows where to go for help, though.

“I often Skype my grandma while I’m translating to show her a particular record and when she sees it, she is delighted and she says ‘Oh! I know that one,’” said Pervova.DSC_1769

Russian Music Titles to Be Added…

The RSA will add the titles of the approximately 100 rare recordings that Pervova is translating to its database once the work is completed. Pervova will also translate the RSA’s Finnish labels into English. The recordings will be digitalized and made available on the RSA’s research station for professors and students.

Pervova said it’s her small way of giving back to the FAU campus, where she has studied since she enrolled in the Alexander D. Henderson University School in fourth grade. When it was time for ninth-grade, she was accepted into the academically-rigorous FAU High School, which offers students a chance to earn three years of college credit on FAU’s main campus. She plans to graduate from FAU in the spring of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Tammy Ferguson, director of the A.D. Henderson University School/FAU High School, said she is very proud to say that “giving back” is part of the culture that has been created at the Henderson University School and FAU High.

“Ekaterina Pervova is an exceptional young lady who has impressed me from the first time I met her,” said Ferguson. “She has always given back to make sure other students have the best experience possible on the university campus.”

After graduation from FAU, Pervova would like to continue here for graduate school at FAU and work as a researcher on the FAU campus. Eventually, she would like to work for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Pervova would like to focus her research on Brain Syndrome and dementia” and her ultimate goal is to find a way to help people with organic brain syndrome.

“Everything about the brain fascinates me, including its adaptability, its plasticity, its ability to modify and regulate itself through interactions with the environment,” said Pervova.

“I used dementia as an example because it is a very hot topic in the field. There are many different types of dementia, but the most common types are Alzheimer’s and vascular.

“It is imperative that a treatment for dementia is found soon because the major brain change involved in the disease is nerve cell damage and plaque deposits. If we can find a way to stop or reduce nerve cell damage, then we can find similar applications of this with other diseases.”

For more information on student volunteer opportunities at FAU Libraries, call 561-297-6911. Call 561-297- 0080 for student volunteer assignments in the Recorded Sound Archives.

Cantor Joseph Gross

By , March 10, 2014 11:41 am

Cantor Joseph Gross is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about Jewish liturgy, Cantorial music, Cantorial voices and the history of the Cantorate in North America.

A delightful gentleman who has stored  a lifetime of learning into his diminutive frame, Cantor Joseph Gross showed up at the Judaica Sound Archives a little over three years ago wondering if he could be of any help. His warmth and his big smile took us in immediately.  But what captivated us was his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Cantorial and liturgical.

As he spoke I could not help but think that he has probably forgotten more than most of us will ever know on the topic. But as he continued, I realized that he is blessed with almost perfect recall.  Not much seems to have been forgotten at all. You may have heard of people with photographic memories, but Cantor Gross is the only person I have ever met with “phonographic  memory,” i.e. he can recall voice and music impeccably.

A master cantor and composer, Joseph Gross has been a regular volunteer at the JSA for over three years now. Several of our Cantorial music restoration projects have been possible only with his guidance and help.

The JSA has created three albums from the original tape recordings of Cantor Gross.  These recordings are not available anywhere else and have never been commercially released.  They were restored under the vigilant supervision of the Cantor himself.

FAU Sound Archives Rescues Vintage Kiddie Records Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

By , January 27, 2014 1:40 pm

By Fire Ant, New Times Palm Beach

The entrance to the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU is guarded by the remnants of hi-fi history. Walnut-paneled gramophones from the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties line one wall. On shelves across the way, postwar portable sound systems and reel-to-reel tape decks compete for shelf space with 78 rpm and 45 rpm records from historic labels long gone – Decca (now owned by Vivendi), RCA Victor and Okeh (now owned by Sony).

Now in its third year, the archive is dedicated to the preservation and digitization of vintage audio — music as recorded on vinyl and, before that, shellac discs, which degrade over time as needles bounce through grooves. One of the few institutions of its kind — with more than 100,000 items in its collections of jazz, Judaica and the 78 rpm records that predated the long-playing album — the archive has become an invaluable resource for musicologists and historians from around the world.

The archive’s latest addition is a trove of 786 vintage kiddie records from the collection of “Kiddie Rekord King” Peter Muldavin, perhaps the world’s leading expert on early children’s recordings. A Manhattan resident, Muldavin had the records stored in his mother-in-law’s Long Island garage when Hurricane Sandy struck two years ago. The storm surge left many of the discs mud-stained and warped, while the waterlogged record sleeves and artwork became mildewed and moldy.

With very little commercial value left for Muldavin, he reached out to the RSA. “To collectors the quality of everything counts — the packaging, the labels,” RSA director Dr. Maxine Schackman told us. “We welcomed his donation with open arms. For us, the cultural value was still there.”

Still, in addition to audio digitization, the colorful packaging that was so much a part of the kiddie records’ appeal is also being repaired and restored (to the extent possible), then digitally scanned. About one-third of the Muldavin donation has been digitized so far, the sound cleaned of crackles and hisses in the process, distilled to the nostalgic essence of what seems (and sounds) like a more innocent time.

The kiddie records database should be complete early this year. Because of copyright issues, though, access to the sound files will be restricted. Academics and other researchers will be able to listen over the Internet through a password-protected website or, by appointment, at one of the archive’s listening stations.

Dr. Schackman hopes to make song samples from the kiddie records available to the general public, as has been done with earlier RSA donations. The idea, she says, is “to make the forgetten music unforgettable.”

By Fire Ant — an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting — covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.

Original Source: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/countygrind/2014/01/fau_sound_archives_rescues_vin.php

 

Spin Doctors: FAU restoring children’s records damaged by Superstorm Sandy

By , July 1, 2013 5:41 pm
By Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel

June 30, 2013

A pile of stained, mildewed debris from Superstorm Sandy has turned into a nostalgic treasure trove for Florida Atlantic University.

A collection of 786 vintage children’s records including “The Little Engine That Could” and “Black Beauty” were inside a Long Island garage when the hurricane-like disaster struck last October. The recordings, mostly 78 rpms, appeared to be ruined due to dirt and mud on the records and stains on their jackets.

But FAU has found a way to bring the stories and music back to life. The Recorded Sound Archives at the Wimberly Library on the university’s Boca Raton campus has embarked on a project to clean and repair the damaged records and digitize and transfer their contents to an online collection. It’s an effort that requires both modern computer software and old-fashioned elbow grease.

“We are excited to be working with such rare and wonderful artifacts from the 20th Century,” said Maxine Schackman, director of the sound archives. “I can’t wait to see the reaction when we are able to share our work online.”

The website likely will be created in November, Schackman said. Researchers, students and others who are interested will be able to access the digital versions of the recordings via FAU computers or a special password, restrictions that are necessary due to copyright.

The collection is full of literary and pop culture classics, including “Bozo Sings,” “Peter Rabbit” and “Mary Poppins.” While most combine stories and songs, some are music only, like “American Folk Songs” and “Alphabet Songs.” There’s a full array of Christmas-themed records as well as plenty of educational ones. A 1947 record called “Little Songs on Big Subjects” includes a gentle call for racial equality.

“You can get good milk from a brown-skinned cow. The color of the skin doesn’t matter nohow,” the song goes.

The record collection was donated in April by Peter Muldavin, whom FAU officials call the world’s leading expert on vintage American children’s records. Muldavin, who was out of the country and couldn’t be reached by the Sun Sentinel for comment, says on his website he’s been a lifelong collector but started accumulating kiddie records only in 1991 after seeing one in a used record store and remembering it from his childhood.

He then took out “want to buy” ads in antique newspapers and flea market magazines and was swamped with responses.

“People had these records sitting in their attics and basements but didn’t know what to do with them,” Muldavin writes on his website. “There was no established hobby yet.”

Alethea Perez sorts through some of the nearly 800 vintage kiddie records that were donated to Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives.

Due to mold and mildew damage, the library is discarding many of the story books and paper doll cutouts that accompanied the records affected by Sandy, but photographs of the printed matter are being taken and will be digitally restored using Adobe Photoshop.

Almost all of the records are salvageable, Schackman said. Some are warped, and many are encrusted with mud and must be washed by hand.

To help with the restoration, the archives department has bought a vinyl record flattener, a device that slowly heats the recording between heavy metal plates. The department also has software that can reduce background noise from old vinyls.

The sound archive started in the 1980s as a Judaica Collection of vintage works by Jewish artists, but in 2009 expanded into other genres, including jazz and children’s recordings, after the donation of 60,000 records from the family of the late Jack Saul, a Cleveland collector. That collection included 556 children’s recordings, all in good condition.

Benjamin Roth, a Sound Archivist at Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives, cleans a batch of records from the nearly 800 vintage kiddie records that were donated to the Sound Archives.

Archives technician Ben Roth contacted Muldavin, author of the book “The Complete Guide to Vintage Children’s Records,” last year, months before Sandy formed, for advice on finding some specific titles for FAU’s collection.

When a tidal surge from the superstorm brought 20 inches of sea water into a family garage at Long Beach on Long Island, hundreds of recordings stored there lost practically all their value in the collector’s market. So Muldavin asked FAU if the archives department wanted them.

The Boca Raton-based archivists were thrilled. The collection represents a period in American culture, mostly the 1940s and 1950s, when vinyl replaced the hard shellac material that had been used for records, Schackman said. Vinyl was more kid-friendly since it was less prone to breakage.

The works also represent a period before many families had television sets, and when children’s records were a popular form of entertainment.

“It’s a certain time in history that won’t ever be repeated,” Schackman said. “This was the age of innocence. Times were simpler then, more naive.”

stravis@tribune.com or 561-243-6637

Restoration operation

The process that will be used at Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives on the damaged records:

• A technician cleans the 78 rpm using a special ultrasonic wave machine, similar to the unit used to clean jewelry. Distilled water and a small amount of Jet-Dry rinse agent are used.

• If the dirt is excessive, the record is hand-washed. A hair dryer is used to dry it.

• The record is then digitized, using a special turntable that plays the record and captures the audio onto a computer sound card. Sony Sound Forge software is then used to eliminate clicks, pops and other surface noise.

• The album jacket and any accompanying books or cutouts are photographed. Adobe Photoshop is used to remove any dirt or deformities.

• The audio clip and album art are cataloged.

Scott Travis

Preserving Jewish culture with digitization – NYC Conference

By , November 16, 2011 1:55 pm

Dr. William Miller (Dean of FAU Libraries) at the Center for Jewish History in NYC

I just spent two days in NYC at the Center for Jewish History . Over 125 scholars and librarians from around the world, including Dr. William Miller (Dean of FAU Libraries) and myself,  gathered to share our expertise using digital and internet technologies for the study and preservation of Jewish culture and history.

Coordinating such preservation efforts and minimizing duplication is a massive undertaking. The purpose of this conference was to create connections between the various institutions and projects in order to foster communication and partnerships.

Many of the presenters talked about projects which were enormous and diverse. Gunter Waibel, Director of the Digitization Program Office at the Smithsonian Institution spoke eloquently about the challenges of coordinating many and varied collections of items.

CJH is located at 15 West 16th Street in Manhattan

We listened to presentations about digitally reconstructing ancient sites in Israel, preserving ancient manuscripts, and the status of 3-D digitization efforts. As you would expect, most of the conference concerned itself with written materials and cultural objects.

At the Judaica Sound Archives our only concern is to rescue and preserve Jewish sound recordings. It was inspiring to realize that we are just one part of a larger world-wide effort. I was delighted to see Aaron Lansky of the National Yiddish Book Center who had been so important in our early efforts to create an archive of Jewish recordings. I also had the opportunity to meet with Lisa Rivo, associate director at the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University.

This event provided a wonderful opportunity for us to share concerns and to learn from others in the field. I left the conference feeling honored to be a part of this historic effort and confident in our direction.

JSA at FAU Libraries receives gift in memory of Barry Serota

By , October 14, 2011 12:04 pm

Blanche Serota embraces a copy of the specially-created record label that honors her son, Barry Serota. Photo Credit: Alethea Perez

 BOCA RATON, FL (October 4, 2011) –Florida Atlantic University recently received a gift in memory of the late Barry Serota, an attorney, record producer and executive director of the Chicago-based Institute for Jewish Sound Recording. Serota was widely known for his deep knowledge of Jewish music and produced more than 100 recordings of Jewish sacred and secular music. His productions at the Institute for Jewish Sound Recording included choral,   instrumental, folk and art music.

Serota’s mother, Blanche, donated 1,500 LPs, more than 700 78-rpm discs, 100 digital audio tapes and 1,443 audio reel-to-reel tapes to the Judaica Sound Archives (JSA) at FAU Libraries in honor of her son. The collection includes rare record masters and pre-production one-of-a-kind recordings.

“Barry Serota devoted his life to collecting great Jewish music and producing high-quality recordings,” said Maxine Schackman, Ph.D., director of the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries. “Although we knew this was a wonderful donation to the JSA, we really couldn’t be sure what treasures we would find. Many of these recordings are legendary in the world of the cantorial arts.”

Blanche Serota became acquainted with the FAU Libraries when Ben Roth-Aroni, JSA’s sound technician, called to offer his condolences following Barry’s death. During his youth, Roth-Aroni worked for Serota as a tape editor and greatly admired his expertise in the field of Jewish music. Roth-Aroni encouraged Blanche to visit FAU Libraries, and during her February 2011 visit, she arranged to donate her son’s treasured collection to the JSA.

“She wanted to honor his memory,” said Schackman. “It comforted her to know that what he loved so much would find a warm welcome and a permanent home at the JSA.”

The JSA has digitized and compiled a collection of 56 albums produced by Barry Serota. The recordings can be heard on the JSA website at Musique Internationale.

Serota collection yields long-forgotten treasures

By , August 25, 2011 12:21 pm

It was the “last box packed.” Now it was the last box to be unpacked. After going through 156 boxes of Cantorial, Yiddish and English-language recordings from the collection of Chicago record producer Barry Serota we stared at this box and knew that once it was opened our job of unpacking would be complete.

However, our work organizing, describing and investigating the music was just beginning!

Barry Serota, had devoted his life to collecting great Jewish music and producing high-quality recordings. Although we knew that this was a wonderful donation to the Judaica Sound Archives, we really couldn’t be sure what treasures we would find. As it turns out, we couldn’t be more pleased!

Of the 1,513 LPs that were unpacked we found at least 100 that were still in their original cellophane wrappers. There were also a few 45 rpm records, over seven hundred 78 rpm discs, 101 digital tapes, and 1,443 audio reel-to-reel tapes.

Benedict Stambler, founder of the Collector’s Guild recording company, had been Barry Serota’s mentor and friend. We were delighted to uncover several test pressings from the Collector’s Guild Archives Limited Edition series. There were numerous other test pressings as well, a few of them acetate.

Test pressings include: an acetate pressing of a synagogue service  radio broadcast led by Cantor Dale Lind made in 1941, a live concert by Cantor David Kousevitsky that was recorded in 1968, and a concert of folk songs by Rosenblatt.

The JSA has now been able to create a special collection of about 60 albums on the Musique Internationale label. This rare collection of recordings by a dedicated lover of Jewish music can now be enjoyed around the world on the JSA website.

The Judaica Sound Archives has greatly enhanced its already extensive collection of Judaic music with this acquisition and we are delighted to be able to share it with you. Recordings that cannot be played on the website due to copyrights will be made available on the JSA Scholar’s Research Station.

Saul Family Given Recognition for Gift to FAU Libraries

By , April 28, 2011 8:55 am

When I learned that Marlene Englander (Jack Saul’s daughter) and her husband Jon would be visiting us on Feb. 28, 2011 I couldn’t have been more excited. Marlene had been very helpful to the Recorded Sound Archives in negotiating the details of the delivery of two large truckloads of audio recordings from her mother’s home in Cleveland to FAU Libraries.

As a matter of fact, it was this enormous gift of recordings from the Saul family that inspired FAU Libraries to create the Recorded Sound Archives (RSA). Over the past six years the Judaica Sound Archives has been gaining in prominence and size. So you can imagine the excitement when we started unpacking the Saul Collection and found hundreds of gems that were new the JSA collection. Since Jack Saul had a wonderful collection of early Victor recordings we were able to put together collections of music by such Jewish entertainment super-stars as Al Jolson, Jascha Heifetz, Efrem Zimbalist and Alma Gluck.

FAU Libraries’ large collection of Jazz recordings did not fit within the parameters of the JSA and had been sitting dormant on the shelves at Wimberly Library. This new addition of more than 50,000 non-Jewish 78rpm recordings of classical, popular and folk music as well as historic speeches were also inappropriate for the JSA. Luckily, we were in a position to apply what we had learned processing Jewish recordings to these other music treasures. Creating a more comprehensive Recorded Sound Archives just seemed like the logical thing to do.

We gave Marlene and Jon a tour of the new RSA’s three separate areas: Judaica, Jazz and Vintage 78’s.

Alethea Perez (RSA Operations Coordinator) and Marlene Englander (Jack Saul’s daughter)

“How much of this came from my father?” she asked looking down a long aisle of records. “Just about all of them,” I replied. I was especially pleased to be able to show Marlene the recognition “gold record” that had been placed on our Sound Angels wall and to present  her with a similar plaque to take home to her mother.

Not long ago I received the following email from Marlene.  I am proud to share it with you.

“What a pleasure it was to … see the fabulous things you are doing with both the Recorded Sound Archives in general and the Jack Saul collection in particular. Our family is so pleased with the dedication and devotion of your staff and volunteers in working to provide access to this unique resource.  [We] were pleased to see familiar faces – you, Ben, Alethea, Dean William Miller and Associate Dean Rita Pellen – and to meet a volunteer who was so excited to have found a signed 78 recording from the collection while we there!

Upon returning home, I couldn’t wait to show my mother some of the pictures, and she, of course, was very pleased. She also was touched by the plaque you had made for her and to see that our family’s name is now on your donor wall. I hope she will join us on our next trip – the way the weather is up here, it may be sooner than anticipated!

Again, many thanks for all your hard work, your wonderful blogs (which I read regularly) and your ongoing commitment to preserving not only my father’s collections of Jazz, vintage and Judaica recordings, but those of others as well.”

Marlene and Jon Englander

(Jack Saul Family)

Kandel Klezmer Orchestra

By , January 4, 2011 5:13 pm

Harry Kandel was one of the pioneers of modern Klezmer music. His orchestra consisted of a variety of instruments including the clarinet, trombone, tuba, xylophone, cornet, violin, flute, viola and piano.  Kandel studied at the Odessa Conservatory of music before moving NYC in 1905. In New York he performed in vaudeville as clarinetist with the Great Lafayette Band and also appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

After moving to Philadelphia in 1913 he played with John Philip Sousa’s Band and started his own orchestra in 1916. The 34 songs in this collection were digitized from the original 78 rpm recordings produced by Victor Records from 1917 through 1921, at the height of the Kandel Orchestra’s popularity. Volume one contains their original rendition of Der Stiller Bulgarish which was later recorded by Benny Goodman as And the Angels Sing.

Although most of Kandel’s recordings were with Victor Records he also produced recordings for the Brunswick and Okeh labels. He retired in 1924 spending the rest of his life running a music store, making only occasional live and radio appearances.

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