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MMD > Archives > January 2000 > 2000.01.25 > 08Prev  Next

Seek Welte-Mignon T-100 Master Rolls
By Albert Petrak

Are any of you living in or near Pacific Heights able to research
a project for RPRF?  Here's the scoop:

Shortly after World War II, a wealthy gentleman from that city, Richard
Simonton, got the bright idea of journeying to Freiburg, to visit the
Welte family.  They were in pretty dismal living conditions (like
millions of others in Germany) and he proposed helping out by buying
from old Edwin the masters of the recordings, carefully preserved in
salt caves nearby to prevent damage from Allied bombing.

Simonton then either also obtained from Welte, or already had, a Vor-
setzer capable of playing them.  He bought some 800 rolls, it is said,
and convinced Columbia Records, which had introduced the LP in 1948,
to issue recordings to be made (I assume) by him.  Five LP's were
released (memory says they were ML-4291 through 4295).

I recall the thrill of hearing them when I worked briefly for the
G. Schirmer Co. retail music store.  They weren't very good, with
a fairly high hum level and some distortion, but it was a thrill to
hear the great artists, even if imperfectly: Debussy, Busoni, et al.
Simonton had a large house, with a theatre in which a reproducing pipe
organ was placed.  He used to give concerts for friends and interested

When I inquired some time ago from Robbie, he stated that he had no
information, but that he had heard that the collection was donated to
the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Do any of you have
any more detail than that?  My experiences in dealing with the Chicago
College of Music, part of Roosevelt U. where Rudolph Ganz held forth
for many years, and inquiries to Boston, and elsewhere always resulted
in nothing!  No reply, no interest.

The LP's would have been released in 1952 or thereabouts, judging from
the number sequence.  They began with ML-4001 (12"), as I recall and
that would be the summer of 1948.  Do any of you happen to have one or
more of the LP's?  Any information that can be supplied would be
useful, in particular relative to the whereabouts of the masters.

Albert M. Petrak

 [ Welte biographer Charles Davis Smith told me that, before he
 [ died, Richard Simonton sold or gave away many Welte-Mignon rolls,
 [ including some which he presented to UCLA.  His collection,
 [ according to Smith, originally had some 800 Welte titles;
 [ many rolls in the collection were produced at the Welte factory in
 [ Poughkeepsie, New York.  It was the _remainder_ of his collection
 [ which was donated from the estate to UCLA.  I have no knowledge of
 [ how many rolls were donated.
 [ There is no confirmation in Smith's book that Simonton ever saw,
 [ much less possessed, the 3,000 Welte master rolls rumored to have
 [ been presented to him by Edwin Welte.  (Some rumors never die!)
 [ An article in 971108 MMD, "Recordings of Reproducing Pianos", has
 [ more information about audio recordings produced by Mr. Simonton.
 [ -- Robbie

(Message sent Tue 25 Jan 2000, 09:06:36 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Master, Rolls, Seek, T-100, Welte-Mignon

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