Fritz Busch and Dresden [9/15]

1926: “Electric recording!”




The first recordings using microphones were made at the end of 1925, making the old acoustic recording process using a horn obsolete.
The new technique had teething problems, however, and many of the first generation of microphone recordings did not match the quality of the last acoustic recordings. DGG therefore initially applied the new process “on the quiet”, instead of implementing the usual extensive advertising campaign to exploit it.

The Staatskapelle’s second recording session on September 12, 1926 coincided with that experimental phase. Two major Dresden premieres were to be made accessible to international audiences on gramophone records for the first time: the German firsperformance of Puccini’s “Turandot” and the Dresden first production of Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino”.



Fitz Buschs Terminkalender mit dem Eintrag “Grammophon” am 12. September 1926.
Auf dem Spielplan standen parallel dazu die Vorstellungen von Verdis “Macht des Schicksals” am 7. September 1926 und Puccinis “Turandot” am 13. September
© Dokument: Max-Reger-Institut – BrüderBuschArchiv


Busch, who was technically open-minded, once again conducted for those recordings, which consisted of excerpts from the two operas, this time featuring the entire orchestra and soloists from the opera ensemble.
At great expense, DGG again had to send mobile recording equipment to Dresden in order to produce the recordings in the city. The normal way would have been to provide the soloists and the conductor with second-class train tickets and to record in Berlin with a studio orchestra – usually made up of members of the Berlin Staatskapelle.
The recordings presented here were probably made in Dresden at the insistence of Busch, for it is difficult to imagine that he would have accepted anything but “his” Staatskapelle for recording premieres which were so personally important to him.



Original label from the recording session of September 1926.
Collection Dr. Jens Uwe Völmecke


The acoustic result is however disappointing. The recordings sound hard and have the frequency range of a telephone connection.
It may be assumed that Busch rejected the recordings after listening to samples. His name is mentioned only on the labels of the orchestral recordings and the terzetto from Puccini’s Turandot.


Deutsche Grammophon Aktiengesellschaft advertisement for the first release of the “Turandot” recordings with Anne Roselle, Paul Schöffler, Otto Siegmund and Heinrich Tessmer and the Staatskapelle of Dresden.
The label of the”Turandot” aria sung by Anne Roselle fails to mention the Staatskapelle and Fritz Busch.

He is not named in the case of the two Turandot arias sung by the soprano Anne Roselle, although his musical direction is vouched for in advertisements and in an article in the Phonographische Zeitschrift. For this recording session too, matrices were used for unknown purposes.

Ironically, DGG made a breakthrough in recording technique some three months later, and set a big advertising campaign in motion. Called “Polyfar R”, the new method produced a sound of unprecedented warmth and breadth.
From this point on, all new record labels carried the words “electrical recording”.

The innovation again came too late for the Staatskapelle recordings, which in this case became technically obsolete in a matter of weeks and were once again doomed to disappear from the catalogues.


In order to be able to continue selling at least the recordings featuring Anne Roselle, DGG recorded the two arias again in Berlin and with a Berlin studio orchestra in 1928. The new recordings unceremoniously replaced the original ones with Fritz Busch in the firm’s catalogue.

Up to the time he left Germany, the conductor only once entered a recording studio again. In 1928 he produced for the Berlin firm of Odeon excerpts from Die ägyptische Helena, which had been premiered in Dresden that same year.


The next time Fritz Busch recorded in a studio was in England in 1934, when the Staatskapelle of Dresden was for him already a completed chapter in his biography.

next page 10/15


Fritz Busch • A multimedia portrait of a music-maker

→  1/15    Introduction
→  2/15
    The Busch Family
→  3/15    “He is the right one!”
→  4/15    In search of great voices
→  5/15    Staatskapelle concerts
→  6/15    Correspondence between Richard Strauss and Fritz Busch [only in German]
→  7/15    First concert tours
  8/15    First Gramophone recordings 1923  “Played into the horn”
    9/15   In Front of a microphone for the first time 1926
10/15   “On Air!”
11/15    Cinema film with photographic sound “Fritz Busch conducts Richard Wagner”
12/15    “Over!”
13/15    Only as a guest
14/15    Welcome home: Sinopoli’s “homage”
15/15    FACTS AND FIGURES The Busch era  [only in German]