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By Alexander Tikhonov   

Over the time there were different kinds of hits issued on records In Russia, however 90 years ago the Russian recording industry were not about to sing the songs...

After well-known events of 1917 all private record companies had been expropriated by Soviet authorities. The owners of most firms and plants as well as popular artists were compelled to emigrate. In spite of the Revolution, musical tastes of average men had not been changed and people continued to listen to what they liked to.

Officials of the People's Commissariat of Food (People's Commissariat of the RSFSR) were well aware of the wealth that fell into their hands. They wanted to make money by issuing records of urban songs, Gypsy romances, comic songs and dances from the old matrixes using remaining stocks of raw materials. Pre-revolutionary songs were good means of barter: for the hit «Marusia poisoned herself» or «Ukhar the Merchant» peasants paid by bread, shortage of which was experienced in cities. Soviet People's Commissariat did not want to invest in new recordings, and it was a serious political mistake, which the Bolsheviks have corrected quickly.

In 1918, with the support of Lenin, the gramophone industry was taken over by «Centropechat». The entire gramophone industry consisted of two printing plats in Moscow: «Pathe» on Bakhmetevsky street and «Recording Amour» on the Schipok street, «Metropol-Record» at Moscow station Aprelevka, and one plant in Petrograd, which before the Russian revolution belonged to the «Russian Stockholders Company of Grammophone» (RAOG). In the reality of “triumphed socialism”, once thriving and lucrative enterprises were dying right on our eyes. By mid-1918 all the factories were shut down due to the fact that stocks of imported raw material – shellac that were stored by former owners for future use, came to an end.

In 1919, due to severe paper crisis in the country, it was decided to use gramophone as media for propaganda of Bolshevik ideas as well as for educational purposes. Lenin enthusiastically accepted this initiative because he knew about the use of gramophones during election campaigns in America and Europe.

«Centropechat» created new department "The Soviet Record" which included Lenin, Kalinin, Kollontaiin in its editorial board. In early 1919 they began recording speeches of the most prominent figures of the revolution. They brought right into Kremlin the recording equipment, which had been expropriated from the com-

Example of "The Soviet Record" label.
(From the collection of Oleg Besedin)

pany «Metropol-Record», whose recording studio was located on the Gorokhovskiy Street. (This building is still preserved near the theater of M.V.Gogol. The author comment.) Riding from the Kremlin to the edge of Moscow was long, uncomfortable, and dangerous enterprise: not everyone shared the Bolshevik views in Moscow.

The equipment in those days was so complex that it could be serviced only by former owners, so Ivan Moll, August Kibart and recording engineer Oscar Bleshe were hired to work in "The Soviet Record". With their help, the recording device was uplifted on the second floor of the famous Cossack Senate, where located the CPC - Council of Peoples Commissars (Soviet government in 1917-46), and installed it in a small Mitrofanievsky Hall.

When the unit was checked and prepared for recording, Lenin came down into the hall from his office. They explained to him what distance to maintain from the horn and asked to speak clearly and do not hurry. The speaker-actor, who was in the studio, announced each Lenin’s speech, because not everyone in the country could read what was written on record labels.

Lenin did serious preparation for recording: the speech time was not supposed to exceed 3 minutes, yet during this time he had to tell the most important. The main thing that existed in the speeches of Lenin and his associates was the energy and urgency, in fact same feature that marks out nowadays artists who perform true R&P.

After one of recording session, Lenin was photographed with a group of «Centropechat» employees (See photo). That's when August Kibart, who in 1910 together with the family of Moll founded «Metropol-Record» plant in Aprelevka, came to Lenin and complained in German about the breach of contract. According to the contract he was promised to get paid in foreign currency, but was paid in «Russische papierenbungen» (Russian paper checks). The indignation of the leader of world proletariat was burning. He called aside the head of the «The Soviet Record» and said to him: «If comrade foreigner will not be satisfied within three days, you will go to the jail and will stay there as long as it needed to learn that the contracts have to be honored!» Though in Lenin’s mind would not came that fact that he and his rule had taken away from these people their property –

the gramophone plant, that was created by their own hands and the years of hard work, and now they weren't paid for their work.

Originally records were printed not in Aprelevka, but on «Pathe» factory, however soon they run short on shellac. After that «Centropechat» decided to start using for production scrap of old records. The Moscow stock of old discs was almost exhausted, but nearby, in Aprelevka, laid untouched piles and piles of records with Bourgeois music. So, they decided to reprocess them into flaming speeches of People's Commissars.

Lenin at recording device

During the period from 1919 to 1921 was published about 40 titles of gramophone records with speeches of leaders of the Soviet goverment.

The absolute leader in the number of issued records was Lenin. In total, he narrated and recorded 16 discs, among them: “What is the Soviet Authority?”, “Appeal to the Red Army”, “On the middle class peasants”, “On the pogrom persecution of the Jews”, “How

to save workers from the yoke of the landlords and capitalists permanently”, “On labor discipline”,”III Communist International”, and etc. The first records had modest one-color labels. In the absence of paper they printed them on reverse sides of old paper labels «Pathe» and «Recording Amour».

Along with Lenin on the gramophone records was recorded later disgraced People's Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs Leo Trotsky. Contemporaries comparing oratory skills of Lenin and Trotsky said: “The was flame in both. Lenin's speech flares up like a birch log, while Trotsky as a flashlight.”

Also, the record immortalized voices of A. V. Lunacharsky, M. I. Kalinin, N. I. Bukharin, and many other politicians, commissars and commanders. Unfortunately, there are no documental evidences survived indicating whether People's Commissars received fees for their records, or it was done as part of their duties.

It is clear that solely on propaganda recordings they will not get far. The proletariat needed its own new art. The names of the revolutionary hits of those years speak for themselves: “Do not cry over corpses”, “We were waked up by the earlier storms”, “Only you, the worker and peasant”, “Bond between town and country”, etc. The popular tenor V. A.Sabinin who did not have a special love for the Bolsheviks recorded “The Song of Red fighters” and the famous church choir of choirmaster I.I.Yukhov switch over to record funeral marches of despair.

War Communism or Military Communism was the economic and political system that existed in the Soviet Russia during the Russian Civil War, from 1918 to 1921. According to Soviet historiography, this policy was adopted by the Bolsheviks with the aim of keeping towns and the Red Army supplied with weapons and food, in conditions in which all normal economic mechanisms and relations were being destroyed by the war. "War communism", which began in June 1918, was enforced by the Supreme Economic Council, known as the Vesenkha. It ended on March 21, 1921 with the beginning of the NEP (New Economic Policy), which lasted until 1928. [Wikipedia]
Trotsky managed without microphones and
amplification even at the battlefront

For the last time Lenin worked in the studio in April 1921. At the end of the year, “The Soviet Record” department had been eliminated, the production of records on Aprelevka factory ceased. In 1924 the leader of world proletariat passed away, but his records remained and became the unique documents of the epoch. Subsequently, Lenin recordings were repeatedly reissued on LPs and CD-ROMs in USSR and abroad.

Originally published by «Audio Producer Magazine», No. 10, 2009.

English translation by Yuri Bernikov.





6.60 (5 votes)

Added by:

bernikov | 02.06.2010 04:14 | Last updated by:  bernikov | 17.10.2022 03:23
Author Comment
Dmitry Golovko (Golovko)
мда уж...
вот уж понять не могу почему сие произведение написано на уровне, равном бульварному : то ли автор настолько слабо ориентируется в том, о чём пишет, то ли это писалось наспех, то ли чисто ради гонорара за публикацию, то ли предназначалось для мальчиков-пэтэушников...
  03.06.2010 04:22
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Сергей Морыкин (xprmental)

Comments: 37
Join Date: 02.07.2007
чего там...
довольно познавательно... мне лично материал понравился...
где-то читал, что Ленин не записался первым на советскую пластинку, первой была записана Александра Коллонтай!
но, конечно же, вождю приписали место "первопроходца" )
по этой же причине каталог пластинок Центропечати хранился за семью замками! он и сейчас практически недосягаем... я бы лопнул от счастья посмотреть на него ))
  05.06.2010 05:05
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Александр Локощенко (aleksandrs)
Звук революции
Ленин, как будто бы, "наговорил" не 16 речей, а только 13. Об этом писали ещё в советское время.
Хорошо бы заново отреставрировать и переиздать эти записи. По-моему, фонограмма вообще лучше всего раскрывает личность человека. Одно дело смотреть немую кинохронику, другое дело - услышать голос. Мне довелось послушать императора Франца-Иосифа, Зигмунда Фрейда - просто увлекательно. Интересно, сохранился ли голос Бухарина, Зиновьева. А ещё, говорят, Милюков записался на валик и на пластинку. Вот бы послушать Милюкова!
  05.06.2010 09:30
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Константин Вершинин (Versh)

Comments: 1272
Join Date: 10.11.2008
/// Дореволюционные песни служили хорошим средством товарообмена: за хит «Маруся отравилась» или «Ухарь купец» ///

Точно, в 1917-18 гг. Толпы налетали. Самое время... (причём крестьян).
Действительно, автору следовало бы вдумываться в высказываемое.
  05.06.2010 14:21
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Константин Вершинин (Versh)

Comments: 1272
Join Date: 10.11.2008
/// по этой же причине каталог пластинок Центропечати хранился за семью замками! ///

С чего Вы взяли? Номер А-001 имеет именно ленинская запись.

Конечно, номера могут не отражать хронологическую последовательность записей. О том, что первой записалась Коллонтай (в январе; В.И.Ленин - в марте), говорит А.И.Железный и при этом цитирует её воспоминания, правда, без ссылки. Но это дело другое.
  05.06.2010 14:32
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Игорь Королёв (igor)

Comments: 7
Join Date: 30.04.2008
Хорошая статья ...для "Детской энциклопедии".А вообще это очень интересная тема.Которую можно развивать и развивать..
А первый каталог пластинок Центропечати имеется в ленинской библиотеке ,в Москве.в отделе нотной литературы.И хранится он не за "семью печатями",а пылится в шкафу.(сам видел его лет 5 назад когда случайно попал в служебное помещение )не знаю как сейчас,но тогда на руки получить мне его не удалось..видел только мельком..По виду брошюра страниц 20-25...
  14.06.2010 20:39
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