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The Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) is proud to be an Associate Partner in Europeana Sounds, joining with our international colleagues in this best practice network to make archival audio collections accessible online.
Our first contribution to Europeana Sounds will be the shellac recordings of the DIT Caruana Gramophone Collection, dating from 1904 to 1933, which were collected to compliment the Gramophone magazine. The collection was bequeathed to the DIT by Bernadette Caruana and was the undertaking of two generations of record collectors.
The Gramophone, established in 1923, is the oldest record magazine still in existence. The collection’s print volumes begin with the magazine’s first issue in April 1923 and run continuously through World War II to 1999, missing only one volume from 1984/1985. The accompanying shellac discs were meticulously organised with a codified numerical sequence by the original owner and bear hand-written inscriptions on their sleeves which cross-reference to specific Gramophone magazine articles within the print volumes. These cross-references trace announcements and reviews of the release, and provide context by linking to articles reviewing other recordings by that performer, or other performances of that work. Also affixed to the record sleeves are cut-outs with track-listings, photos of the performers and reviews.
The recordings feature signature and unique commercially-released performances by artists such as Alfred Cortot, Yehudi Menuhin, Nellie Melba, Amelita Galli-Curci, Adelina Patti, Gervase Elwes and Irish-born John McCormack. They contain characteristic examples of the popular classical music repertoire in the early twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on operatic music, and some English folk and Irish traditional music rarities.
The collection’s contents are of vital importance to musicologists and researchers, both as audio examples for performance practice research and as evidence of the record collecting culture in Dublin during the early twentieth-century.
This year, the DIT Music & Drama Library has been awarded two grants to begin the process of conservation and digitisation: the Heritage Council’s 2016 Heritage Management Grant and the DIT Foundation Grant for the Promotion of Innovation and Creativity. Updates to follow!
by Dr Catherine Ferris, DIT.