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The History Of The Record

A chronicle by Peter K. Burkowitz †

1951
  • In the meantime the company has managed to gain the cooperation of the following artists: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Christel Goltz, Josef Greindl, Elisabeth Höngen, Annelies Kupper, Fritz Lehmann, Wilma Lipp, Max Lorenz, Enrico Meinardi, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Irmgard Seefried, Carl Seemann, Elfriede Trötschel, Hermann Uhde, Wolfgang Windgassen, Wilhelm Kempff, Leopold Ludwig, and Walther Ludwig.
  • The new synthetic LP with 33⅓ rpm is now marketable in Germany, too.
  • Twelve new yellow-label releases create quite a stir at the Funkausstellung on account of their superlative quality and the placement of items like Mendelssohn´s A Midsummer Night´s Dream (Berlin PO, Fricsay), Brahms´ 2nd Symphony (Berlin PO, Jochum), Mozart´s Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Chamber Orchestra of the Bavarian Broadcast, Jochum), Brahms´ Variations on a Theme by Haydn, op. 56 (Württembergisches Staatsorchester Stuttgart, Leitner) – on just one side of an LP!
1952
  • Prof. Elsa Schiller, former head of the music department at RIAS, Berlin, is made product manager for classical music at DGG.
  • The first complete opera recorded on LP is Lortzing´s “Zar und Zimmermann”, prelude to a long line of such recordings with the yellow label.
  • Kurt Richter is made head of the light music department.
  • H. Keilholz, head of the DGG recording department, provides new decorative acoustic elements for the Vienna State Opera, which are highly effective.
1953
  • Dr. Ernst von Siemens is made head of the supervisory board at DGG.
  • Dr. Ladislaus Veder (Polydor Light Music Production) is made executive director, and P. K. Burkowitz (RIAS Berlin) is made head of the recording department of Electrola and Carl Lindström in Cologne, which merge to Electrola GmbH in the same year.
  • The 17 cm 45 rpm is now introduced throughout the music industry.
1954
  • DGG establishes a subsidiary in London, Polydor UK, Ltd.. W. Riemer is made its managing director, formerly export division Hannover.
  • For the first time DGG records a complete work of literature: Goethe´s Faust on LP.
  • 84 % of all deliveries are still 78 shellac discs.
  • The plant in Hannover is enlarged by 1,000 sqm.
1956
  • The headquarters and the managing board of DGG are transferred from Hannover to Hamburg.
  • After the successful introduction of portable modular stereo mixing desks for Electrola, Cologne, P. K. Burkowitz designs REDD-17- and -37for EMI. These desks acquire cult status in later years after having served to produce The Beatles´ recordings at the Abbey Road Studios. In some studios they have been reactivated since 2006.
  • Using one of the Cologne installations, P. K. Burkowitz makes the first stereo records for Capitol Classics in the Grunewald Church, Berlin, published in 1957 (Stravinsky´s The Firebird and Petrouchka, Berlin PO/Leopold Stokowski); phase-proof one-microphone technique with SM2 in cross figure-of-eight setup, still used as teaching material.
1957
  • The construction works for a new record manufacturing plant are started in Langenhagen near Hannover.
  • After great success of Goethe´s “Faust I” (Düsseldorf, Gründgens), the „Literary Archive“ (green label) if founded. Dr. Adolf Lohse, member of the board of directors, will take care for this label in the future.
1958
  • DGG releases its first stereo LP record, although already at the industry´s disposal for more than a year now. Due to the progressive pick-up technology, stereo LPs can be submitted to public use earlier than imagined because they are “mono compatible” (they can also be played on mono sets).
  • The production of shellac discs is abandoned. The vinyl formats – 33⅓ rpm LPs and 45 rpm singles – are firmly established by this time.
1959
  • Herbert von Karajan is once more taken under a long-term contract by DGG.
  • The moulding record production starts in Langenhagen, next to the site of the future Emil Berliner Studios. At first the daily output is 40,000 discs, soon to surpass 120,000 ones.
1960 The size of the DGG catalogues, containing more than 5,000 titles by renowned artists, achieves a new top position in the music industry worldwide.
  DG control room at Podbielskistraße, Hannover, around 1960 DG control room at Podbielskistraße, Hannover, around 1960
1961
  • Dr. W. Betcke, managing director at DGG, is elected president of IFPI for one term of tenure.
  • Horst Söding, head of the development department at DGG, introduces the first experimental video disc (for internal use only).
1962
  • Siemens AG, München, and Philips Gloeilampen Fabrieken N. V., Eindhoven/Netherlands, decide to merge their subsidiaries DGG und PPI (Philips Phonographische Industrie) ecenomically while both maintaining legally independent. They believe in considerable advantages from this move, DGG having a superlative repertoire, PPI owning branches worldwide. The new company trades under the provisional name “GPG” (in Germany Grammophon-Philips-Gruppe, in Netherlands Gruppe Philips Grammophon). Coen Solleveld is elected president, F & A Johannes van der Velden, Distribution & Sales Kurt Kinkele, Engineering Dr. H. W. Steinhausen, Polydor Int. Dr. Werner Vogelsang, PPI Piet Schellevis, DGG Richard Busch, Philips Reinhard Klaassen.
  • The group acquires the company and label Mercury (US).
  • At GPG Hannover Immelmann introduces a fully automatic electronic record control system.
  • On March 22, P. K. Burkowitz at EMI Electrola is granted DBP 1113474, for which he had applied on January 16, 1960 for his “autoadaptive compressor” (increasing programme level causes decreasing decay time – this reduces the pumping effect).
1964 At the end of his tenure, Dr. W. Betcke surrenders his IFPI chairmanship to Richard Dawes, EMI.
1965 The production of music cassettes (MC) begins in Hannover.
1967
  • P. K. Burkowitz is made head of Groups Recording Management (GRM) in Hannover, alternatively in Baarn, Netherlands. Technical planning, construction and service capacities are distributed to both facilities, depending on demand and suitability. Coordinating measures are to be initiated on all decision levels. The studios of regional branches are supervised centrally, introducing adequate measures of standardization, modernization and coordination.
  • There are exploratory talks with Dr. Steinhausen on the transfer of the sound engineering department from Hannover to Langenhagen into a new, yet to be built administrative center. The favored solution of a separate building, especially appropriate for acoustic reasons (close proximity to the highway), cannot be verified, owing to limited resources, but it is not rejected altogether, either.
1969
  • The group acquires Chappell Music Publishing (UK & US).
  • The recording department sound engineering and GRM move to Langenhagen into the new administrative building.
  • C. Olms, head of Polydor studios, London, describes the principles and solutions of automatic repetition of work routines at the mixing desk.
  • During a US tour P. K. Burkowitz scouts out halls, studios and recording installation of the most renowned labels in New York, Chicago, Montreal, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Nashville, Memphis, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The news of an expiring contract between the Boston Symphony Orchestra and RCA, immediately transferred to Kurt Kinkele in Hamburg, initiates a new long-term contract between DGG and the BSO, leading to the establishment of a separate control room for DGG (a novelty in the Symphony Hall), with a modern analog transistor desk from the GPG workshop, audio engineering department Baarn. Local supervision in Boston is assigned to Paul Meister, GPG audio engineering department, Hannover (see picture below).
1970
  • The group acquires record label RSO (UK).
  • First 4 channel quadrophony discs.
  • In the Netherlands the first worldwide meeting of Group Recording Managers (heads of regional companies) is arranged. Many participants see their colleagues from other countries for the first time ever. A great need for and real interest in timely technical information becomes apparent, leading to a regular service, including suggestions for practical and economically viable harmonization measures.
1971
  • Siemens and Philips assign GPG to PolyGram.
  • After many years of international groundwork by Johann L. Ooms (former chief engineer for electro acoustics at PPI) and regional initiatives by P. K. Burkowitz and several technical heads of European companies inside the music industry, there is a first meeting of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) in Europe, convening in Cologne. This event marks the beginnings of a new (and badly needed) international cooperation, providing information on and accounts of experiences with technological inventions. Burkowitz heads the first three meetings: 1971 in Cologne, 1972 in Munich, and 1973 in Rotterdam (see AES History: Background Information – AES Amsterdam 2008 (April 2, 2008)).
  • On February 8, 1971 the control room at the Boston Symphony Hall is officially opened in the presence of journalists:
  Left to right: Hans Hirsch, head of DGG Classics; Günter Hermanns (partly covered), DGG sound engineer; Peter Burkowitz, Group Recording Manager; Victor Campos, KLH Research & Development Corp.; Larry Klein, Technical Editor Stereo Review (sunglasses); Edward Tatnall Canby, music critic (bald head, leaned forward); Peter Davis, Music Editor High Fidelity (wearing press kit); R. D. Darrell, music critik High Fidelity (white-bearded) Left to right: Hans Hirsch, head of DGG Classics; Günter Hermanns (partly covered), DGG sound engineer; Peter Burkowitz, Group Recording Manager; Victor Campos, KLH Research & Development Corp.; Larry Klein, Technical Editor Stereo Review (sunglasses); Edward Tatnall Canby, music critic (bald head, leaned forward); Peter Davis, Music Editor High Fidelity (wearing press kit); R. D. Darrell, music critik High Fidelity (white-bearded)
1972
  • The group acquires Verve Records (US) and MGM Records (US).
  • The classics teams of DGG and Philips (PolyGram) are now serially equipped with 8-channel, soon even 16-channel machines (Studer).
1976 The group acquires UDC (UNITED DISTRIBUTION CORPORATION US) and concludes a distribution contract with 20th Century Records and RCA (outside US).
1977
  • The group acquires 50 % of the label Casablanca.
  • L. Schmidt und Gorski, POLYGRAM-AED Hannover, create the first automatic mixing system with inter-track data recording and real-time data recovery.
  • DECCA London builds proprietary digital tape recorders in their own workshop.