“Gramaphones & Grooves” traces the British birth of preserving the human voice. BBC Radio 4 has five 15-minute programs that contain fascinating glimpses of history from both the UK & America, including the segments described below. Remarkable!
American Civil War hero Colonel George Gouraud was the first roving sound reporter in history. As Thomas Edison’s agent in the UK , he beguiled all manner of famous names to record into his phonograph for publicity purposes. In this programme listeners can hear PT Barnum, William Ewart Gladstone, Florence Nightingale, Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Duke of Cambridge (the first royal to be recorded), Prince Napoleon and Henry Morton Stanley, who famously uttered the line ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’
Listeners can nonetheless hear the piano playing of Brahms, and the speaking voices of Sir Arthur Sullivan and Tchaikovsky. There is also what is probably the first musical recording of all – of voices at a Crystal Palace Handel Festival in 1888.
The programme (and the series) ends with the sounds of the first truly great artist to record – Enrico Caruso.