Charles Munch's First BSO Recordings

By Brian Bell

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Mar. 25

A little background on this week's BSO on Record...

In December of 1949, RCA Victor arrived at Symphony Hall to make the first Boston Symphony records with their new Music Director, Charles Munch (left).

Just as we've seen an evolution of playback technology recently, the Battle of the Turntable Speeds was raging, and Victor was issuing their new 45 RPM discs in addition to the standard discs of 78 RPM.

Fortunately the recording medium by this time was tape, and the sound quality compared to just a few years earlier was significant.

Just hours before the sessions, Munch had fallen ill and had left the concerts to Richard Burgin to conduct, but Munch led the first BSO recording of the Beethoven Seventh Symphony and the first-ever disc of any music from Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict.

Any question of his health was resolved by the following April, when he made the first of his four recordings of Ravel's La Valse, which closes the program. This one is easily the most frenetic.

Tune in Sunday at 2pm to hear all of it.

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