Friday, March 27, 2020

In search of the lost recordings


That photo of Dean Dixon was taken during his tenure as music director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 1964 to 1967*. Despite being a maestro abroad but a Negro in America, Dean Dixon's conducting was, thankfully, captured on numerous recordings. Just one example is his 1969 interpretation of Haydn's Symphony No 53 with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks which can be heard online through this link provided by stalwart Overgrown Path reader Antoine Leboyer.

Sadly Guyanese Rudolph Dunbar, who became the Berlin Philharmonic's first black conductor before his career was sabotaged by racism in the BBC, was not well served by recordings. There are a few of him playing jazz clarinet. But I have no knowledge of any recordings of Dunbar as a conductor. A report reached me of a researcher claiming that recordings of Dunbar conducting exist in an unnamed archive, but so far that has not been substantiated.

Recordings of Dunbar's broadcast concerts could exist. In a 1986 interview Dunbar recounted how in 1942 after conducting the London Philharmonic, Goebbels' propaganda machine responded with vile racist propaganda. Did the Nazis know of that concert because it was broadcast? If so is there an off-air recording somewhere?

Dunbar conducted in Europe: notably four concerts in Paris at the Salle Pleyel of American music including Virgil Thomson's Second Symphony. There is a reference to Dunbar conducting the London Philharmonic again in 1955 with Leonora Milà as soloist in de Falla's 'Nights in the Gardens of Spain'. Are there recordings of any of these concerts? For the wrong reason we all now have time on our hands for research online and elsewhere. Discovery by readers of any extant Rudolph Dunbar recordings would do the memory of this pioneering musician a great service.

* Photo of Dean Dixon by David Moore is in the National Gallery of Australia collection. New Overgrown Path posts are available via RSS/email by entering your email address in the right-hand sidebar. Any copyrighted material is included for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

4 comments:

MarkAMeldon said...

Hi Bob,

The wonderful 'Forgotten Records' in France (from whom I have bought - lovely chap and excellent transfers of out of copyright and new recordings) have several of Dean Dixon's recordings. https://forgottenrecords.com/en/catalogue?f=conductor~Dixon%2C%20Dean

Best,

MarkAMeldon said...

Bits missing from earlier comment. Forgotten Records have several Dean Dixon reissues. The transfers of the discs I have bought are really very good. www.forgottenrecords.com

mathias broucek said...

Mark - do they only do CDs? I couldn't see any reference to downloads on the site

mathias broucek said...

PS Antoine's site is quite the rabbit hole. Looking forward to exploring during this time of isolation