Gabor and his parents around 1930.
Gabor during World War Two and....
data of Donald H. Gabor's recruitment document.
and his wife Valerie.
earliest Remington Records catalog when the company was still located
at 263 West 54th St., the first address of the offices.
On the cover a photograph of conductor Fritz Busch and his testimony:
I record for Remington Records because it
offers me the possibility to reach the widest audiences on high fidelity
quality recordings at prices everyone is able to pay...
Fritz Busch, conductor.
Curtiss around the time he studied at A.B. Davis College, Mount Vernon,
Curtiss, Donald Gabor's cousin, photographed in 1942 when he was Assistant
to Tetos Demetriades, Recording Manager of the Standard Phono Company
(Corporation), 163 W. 23rd St. New York 11, N.Y. The Standard Phono
Corporation's label was Standard and later also Colonial. The Standard
Phono Corporation continued to exist in the LP era as this release of
New and Old German Dances From Germany shows (Colonial Stereo ST-LP-796)..
Curtiss joined Continental Records in 1945 after the war and continued
working for Remington Records in the nineteen fifties and early sixties.
office on Fifth Avenue in the shadow of the Empire State Building.
only quality record at a low price.
Gabor at home in a reflective moment... contemplating a new project?
the years there has been considerable speculation about the man whose
name figured on many a Remington cover, first in an oval emblem and
later written in Alex Steinweiss's scrawl, in a simple but clever
line: "A Don Gabor Production".
other record label has been so personalized by its owner and creator
as Remington Records by Donald H. Gabor. It
gave every buyer the subliminal notion that each and every record
bought had been personally handled and approved by producer Don Gabor
himself, as if he guaranteed the authenticity of it: the record you
have in your hand is special, it is not an imitation, it is original.
idea of connecting the label directly to its producer could have been
a gradual development over several years, or if it was the outcome
of a brainstorm, it most likely originated in the creative mind of
a marketing genius like Don Gabor as so many other ideas did: shaping
a catalog, targeting different groups by creating specific series,
by choosing typical label names and additional logos, advertising
a return guarantee and much later a saving system with stamps as an
incentive to buy more records.
Gabor was born on November 20th, 1912 in Hungary. His mother was
Freida Halmos (research suggests that she was related to the Halmos
family which had emigrated to the USA in 1924 and had settled in Chicago).
He spent his entire youth and his early adulthood in Hungary were
he was raised by his mother's sister Regina and her husband Samuel
Gabor, until 1938, the year in which he came to the US, just before
full scale war broke out in Europe. He had studied at the Budapest
Electrical Conservatory to become a radio and mechanical engineer.
At age 26 he was one of those lucky few who succeeded in reaching
the US to build a new existence. And that is what he did.
is documented that "beginning in 1938 as a shipping clerk for
RCA-Victor at $12 a week, he was head of Victor's foreign records
department within two years, producing song discs in 14 languages."
may have founded Continental Records when he was still employed
at RCA's, or just may have made a few recordings then and there. The
earliest recordings he made in 1941-1942 were of Hungarian composer
in the home of Bartók in New York, the maestro at the piano
playing his own compositions.
recordings were originally released on Gabor's own Continental label,
on 78 RPM, the format of the day. Gabor and his company is already
listed in Billboard's Music Year Book of 1943. It is not sure if Donald
received a loan from his former RCA boss and head of the Greek Music
Division, Tetos Demetriades to set up his business. (Demetriades
made himself independent and produced records with ethnic music.)
Bartók recordings were later transferred to LP: Continental
CLP-101 and were listed in Schwann Long Playing Record Guide of September
1950. By the end of 1952 they were reissued on Remington R-199-94
and later incorporated in the extensive Hungaroton LP edition "Bartok
at the Piano".
Continental 78 RPM discs of various musicians who had migrated to
the US followed. They played classical music, popular music, and there
was jazz of the young artists who would play the clubs of New York.
been raised and educated in Hungary, Gabor dwelled in two worlds and
understood only too well the feelings of the immigrant who, while
appreciating the modern lifestyle and the possibilities America offered,
still remembered the homeland. Alongside goulash and fruit brandy,
there certainly remained a taste for records with folk music played
by immigrant musicians. And not only for Hungarians as Gabor ensured
himself of a high turnover by issuing recordings aimed at Poles, Slovenians,
and Czechs as well, released on the Continental, Czardas and
White Eagle 78 RPM labels, and later on LP and 45 Extended Play.
In some cases he even bought masters from artists and other labels,
including the copyright (as in the case of Frank Yankovic, the Polka
was how he started and that is how he collected the necessary capital
for expanding his business in the second half of the nineteen forties.
And he most certainly did encounter people who wanted to invest in
his fast growing record company. Donald was doing well. By 1947 he
had access to a factory in Webster, Massachusetts, that had been more
or less abandoned. He had machines installed for pressing records
on the plastic compound he had devised.
he came from Hungary was well noticed. When a writer of High Fidelity
Magazine received a press release, he wrote "It was sent out
(To the "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press") by Don Gabor, boss of
Remington Records and pioneer in the field of low- priced classical
LP s. As anyone familiar with Don's pleasantly-broken, Hungarian-tinted
English will recognize, this one came straight from the boss, uncensored
by any publicity agent."
mother Freida and her husband could have come to America with Donald
in 1938, but they were reluctant to leave Europe, because they were
receiving a large pension, they loved their country and they thought
that in time life would improve and the war would eventually be over.
So they stayed. After World War II broke out the fascist Arrow Cross
movement had free play and Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya's
government deteriorated the political-humanitarian situation in Hungary
more and more, notwithstanding the fact that Horthy tried to save
the political situation, but was arrested by the Gestapo, and later
by the Americans and was held prisoner at Nuremberg.
was several years after the war that Donald met someone who had been
with his mother and father. The man told Donald, that when the Germans
had invaded Hungary in 1944, and the so called Death Marches were
organized, Donald's parents were forced to leave Budapest and to literally
walk into Germany. They were in one of those prisoner groups that
were being marched from one concentration camp to another and they
development by Columbia of the 33 RPM Long Playing record (in
the fall of 1947 a 17 minute per side LP was ready), and the official
launch in 1948, promised new possibilities, not only for the big record
companies, but for newcomers too, and of course for eager entrepreneurs
like Donald Gabor.
By 1950 the LP was quickly becoming the accepted medium and as the
proliferation of the appropriate playback equipment was increasing,
it was time to enter the LP record business on a large scale.
1950 Remington Records Inc., was founded, producing both 78 RPM and
33 RPM records. Many Continental recordings were transferred to LP
and later re-released on the Remington label. New recordings were
made in the USA, but most originated in Vienna, the musical capital
of Europe with its abundance of singers, instrumentalists, orchestras
RCA introduced the 45 RPM format in 1949, recordings on the the new
7 inch discs were issued, as it was announced in Billboard Magazine
of July 2, 1949. At the same time in his capacity of engineer Gabor
advised other companies on setting up pressing plants. For example
in Canada (Empire Records which in fact was his own plant), Sweden
(Novotone) and Austria (G.A. Krammer).
Although the black/silver label (which is the third label) mentioned
"A Don Gabor Production", the rights of most of the performances
recorded in Vienna were the propriety of lawyer/impresario/dramaturg
Gabor paid for the rights to issue the performances on Remington,
but he also released the material (while often omitting the names
of the soloists and of the conductors) on the other labels he created
- labels with such remarkable names as Masterseal, Plymouth, Masque,
Merit, and Etude, later adding more labels to the list:
Palace, Pontiac, Paris, Webster, and Buckingham, pretending
that these were not part of his main business. Each and every name
bore a hidden persuasion to which specific buyers could connect.
give his product mass appeal, Gabor priced his Remington records at
about one third of the prices asked by the big labels. Under the heading
"Low Note", Time (New York) reported on Monday, May 29,
1950 that Remington Records, Inc. announced the production of
popular records for 99 ¢, and classical records for $1.49 and
$1.99, respectively for 10 and 12" records. Remington President
Donald Gabor further announced that R. H. Macy & Co., W. T. Grant
Co. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. have already ordered $75,000 worth
of the new records.
low prices were maintained for a very short time only. Already 6 months
later prices had gone up to $1.69 and $2.19 respectively, but were
still about two fifth of RCA's high priced 10 inch and 12 inch records
which sold at $4.67 and $5.72 respectively. And even if in 1954 the
prices of Remington discs were raised to $ 1.99 and $ 2.99, prices
were significantly lower compared to those of the other labels. Then,
all of a sudden, in the course of 1955, prices of Remington records
were lowered to $ 1.45 and $ 1.95. But by 1955 the quality of records
had improved significantly and the reason was that Remington had to
keep up with the competition in order to continue to attract buyers.
other manufacturers were well aware of the competition and were forced
to add a series of cheap records to their catalogs. But that did not
shake the foundation under his enterprise. He made use of any event.
Also when RCA introduced their cheaper Bluebird Label. Gabor congratulated
RCA and used the introduction to point once again at the pioneer role
of Remington Records in an advertisement in Billboaed Magazine.
guarantee low prices, Donald Gabor does not sign up top-price artists,
he uses a cheap substitute for pure vinyl, and he employs no network
of salesmen and district managers to distribute his records. While
the cheap Websterlite - a cheap mix as substitute for vinylite - kept
the cost of production low, it also resulted in poorer sound quality.
This fact should have deterred many consumers from buying a Remington
record or a release on other labels of Gabor's. At the same time one
should not forget that most record buyers were playing their records
on portable gramophones or simple turntables, all equipped with crystal
or ceramic pick ups, connected to a small amplifier or radio which
had of course variable tone controls, so bass could be enhanced and
treble could be adjusted to minimize hiss.
much later the criterion of quality was gaining in significance. But
serious music lovers and audiophiles would pay more attention to the
quality of the performance and the technical quality of the discs
as was clear from many reviews in High Fidelity magazine of those
It was Gabor's policy to make all genres of music affordable. And
he surely must have turned many people into record collectors, irrespective
of the label's name, as Gabor entered the game at the right time and
with mainstream repertoire.
Schwann catalog of December 1950 there were only three recordings
listed of Dvorak's New World Symphony: Eugene Ormandy
on Columbia, Leopold Stokowski on Victor and there was the
Remington disc with
a recording made in the beginning of that year and issued on R-199-4.
same goes for Brahms's First Symphony. There were three recordings
listed in the June 1951 Schwann catalog. One of Arthur Rodzinski
on Columbia and another again by Leopold Stokowsky on Victor.
Number three was the Remington recording of
H. Arthur Brown
( R-199-5) conducting the Austrian Symphony Orchestra - also called
Niederösterreichisches Sinfonie-Orchester (Symphony Orchestra
of Lower Austria), Viennese Symphonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the
Viennese Symphonic Society, Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstler
Orchestra, Linz Symphony Orchestra, and Austrian State Symphony Orchestra,
and who knows what more.
same June 1951 Schwann lists only three recordings of Beethoven's
Sonata Pathétique, Arthur Rubinstein (Victor), Rudolf
Serkin (Columbia) and Alfred Kitchin (Remington). Beethoven's
Moonlight Sonata was available by Horowitz, Serkin and on Remington
Paganini's Violin Concerto in D had three recordings listed: Zino
Francescatti on Columbia, Rugiero Ricci on Vox and Ivry
Gitlis on Remington R-199-20 (though it was the one movement as
orchestrated by Fritz Kreisler).
Since its release, Edward Kilenyi's recording of Debussy's
Preludes Book 1 on R-199-50, was the only LP available for quite some
time. Only in July 1952 one of Walter Gieseking's reference
recordings was listed.
When in the course of 1951 Alexander Jenner's Etudes Op. 25 (R-199-28)
and in the fall of 1951 Edward Kilenyi's recording of Op. 10 (R-199-57)
came out, the only alternative on LP was the set of Alexander Brailowsky
on Victor LM-6000.
there were of course the recordings of
playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (R-199-20), the recording
of Rimsky- Korsakov's Scheherazade conducted by H. Arthur Brown
Beethoven's Fifth Concerto (Emperor) with pianist
Felicitas Karrer on
RLP-199-1 was the first Remington release, listed in December
1950. There were only three competitors: Cassadesus (Columbia), Curzon
(London), Schioler (mercury) and Serkin (Columbia). Grieg's Piano
Concerto (R-199-3) was a December 1950 listing. Karrer's Rachmaninoff
Second (R-199-32) was released in the fall of 1951.
earliest Remington LP label was a variation on the Continental
label, in the common style more or less resembling the labels
of Columbia, Westminster, etc.
When in the summer of 1951 Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony with
Kurt Wöss on R-199-7 was released,
the only competition was from Columbia with the Bruno Walter
recording (ML 4010).
the years 1950-1952 the catalog only contained those recordings which
Gabor obtained through Marcel Prawy. Prawy never proposed a Beethoven
Ninth, orchestral music of Richard Strauss, or a Gustav
Mahler Symphony. Strangely enough these gaps in the catalog were
not filled in when Laszlo Halasz had become Recording Director and
Berlin had become the main recording venue.
there apparently was a recording made for Remington of a performance
of Mahler's Fourth Symphony with Bruno Walter conducting
the Vienna Philharmonic and soprano Irmgard Seefried at the
1950 Salzburg Festival as Robert McColley reported. (There were of
course recordings made in Salzburg with
Messner conducting works by Mozart, Handel, Haydn and Rossini.)
Although the orchestra did permit to record the work, it was not released
by Don Gabor. The most likely reason would be that Bruno Walter was
under contract with Columbia Records and the release was not
permitted. As the taped performance was among the tapes Don Gabor
gave to producer Tom Null, it is said that this recording had been
issued in the Remington Series on the
Sarabande label around 1980, although a listing could not
be traced by me.
records were priceless alternatives. Remington LP's were the cheapest
in the catalog, even cheaper than Eli Oberstein's Allegro/Royale
records with bootlegged material released under fake names for instrumentalists,
conductors and orchestras, and sometimes omitting a movement of a
symphony or a number of bars.
few suspicious collectors may have assumed that the names of the artists
on Remington records were often also pseudonyms. They were definitely
not! Felicitas Karrer, Kurt Wöss, H. Arthur Brown, George
Singer, Walter Schneiderhan and Ivry Gitlis - and the names of
numerous other artists printed on the covers and listed in the Schwann
were all genuine names of musicians who had studied with important
teachers and professors, privately or at the famous conservatories
of Paris and Vienna.
prices meant a big turnover. No wonder that the big companies tried
to boycott Remington right from those early days (when it still had
a red label and the records were already sold by the thousand), and
even more so when Remington was achieving a higher cosmetic profile
through distinguished art work and outstanding design by
Alex Steinweiss and the artists
The sale of each Remington disc meant less income for the giants who
were used to dividing the bulk of the market between them.
There were a few recordings from Vienna which were issued on the more
expensive, early Masterseal label, like Fritz Busch's Memorial
Album and the recording of Volkmar Andreae conducting Bruckner's
Symphony No. 1. These were presented specifically as "A Marcel
Prawy Production", obviously to please Prawy.
were many names who held particular positions in Donald Gabor's
emporium: Emery Rose, W.A. Timm, J.E. Collins, Ted Stock,
Thomas Brusk, Edward Smith, Ms. Tawny Nielson, Edward Stein,
Bennett H. Korn, Hugh Dallas, Ms. Ida Levine, Theodor Halmos,
to mention a few. The significance of their positions and
of their continuations may have varied.
another man, though his name was never mentioned in press
releases or on the list of personnel, was instrumental in
turning Remington Records into a success. His name was George
was a little younger than Donald Gabor. George was actually
from the Kertész family, but the name was Americanized
and changed into Curtiss. George's father was Gyula Kertész
(1888-1982) who played soccer for the MTK Budapest from 1906
till 1914 and later Kertész was a well-known coach
/ team manager with three different clubs in Hamburg (Germany)
in the 1920s, one of them was HSV, Hamburger Sport Verein.
Hogan, the English soccer coach taught Gyula Kertész
and his brothers while Hogan was a prisoner of war (POW) during
World War One. It
was also Jimmy Hogan who taught Gyula Kertész about
daily exercise, diet and healthy living and this served to
help him to live well into his 90's. Werner
Skrentny and Jens R. Prüß
prepared a book on the Hamburg soccer clubs and the Hungarian
influence: Mit der Raute im Herzen (With the Diamond
in the Heart), published by Die Werkstatt, Göttingen,
Kertesz was Don Gabor's uncle. He supervised the Continental
enterprise during the war, when his son George had enlisted
in the US Army and Donald had joined the US Navy. Donald enlisted
on June 8th, 1943; the document states that his civil occupation
is a motion picture sound editor and sound recorder. (Note:
On Donald H. Gabor's recruitment document, the name was probably
written in under cast and later typed. That could be the reason
why the official document says: Donald B. Gabor - the 'h'
could have been mistaken for a 'b'.)
Curtiss, son of Gyula Kertesz, was born as George Kertesz
on April 19, 1921, in Metz, France. He lived his first 12
years mainly in Germany and later in various European countries
(Sweden, Norway, England). He was an only child and like Donald
Gabor came to America in 1938. He graduated from A.B. Davis
High School, Mount Vernon, NY, and started as 'Assistant to
Recording Manager' for the Standard Phono Corporation at 163
W. 23rd St. in NYC, and was employed from September 1938 to
December 1942. He also attended City College of New York until
he was drafted in 1941.
In 1943, at twenty-two, George Curtiss became a US citizen
while he was stationed in Spartensberg, South Carolina. Shortly
afterwards he was shipped overseas. He was one of the soldiers
of the 102nd Infantry Division of the US Ninth Army who reached
the town of Gardelegen on April 15, 1945. The troops were
horrified when they discovered the atrocities of the massacring
of concentration camp prisoners which had taken place only
two days earlier.
spoke French, German, Hungarian, English and Spanish, all
fluently, and - as is reported - without an accent. He also
mastered reading and writing these languages. He later learned
some Russian and Albanian as well and could converse in Italian.
Remarkable, and at the same time unusual, is that he also
had a brilliant mathematical mind. He was able to multiply
five numbers by five numbers faster than could be calculated
when using an electrical calculator. He was a gifted, handsome
man, was artistic and had a sarcastic sense of humor. But
mostly he was a man of great character, honest and forthright
passive and active knowledge of so many languages made him
a perfect broadcaster (as a side job) for the Voice of America
in the nineteen fifties, the early, turbulent years of the
and family ties are always important in business, especially
in small emigrant groups. Gabor asked his cousin George to
join Continental Records in 1945. George first became Manager
of the Foreign Production Department of Continental Records
from 1945 on and than switched to Remington Records, when
the classsical catalog was started in 1950, working closely
with Don Gabor.
cooperation lasted until 1962. In that year George Curtiss
started his own business, dealing with ethnic labels
named Eurotone (featuring international recordings from Europe),
Tikva (with the largest catalog of Jewish and Israeli recordings)
and Anthology (which was his favorite presenting Oriental
and African music with notes and photographs). And he was
the importer in the USA of the Unesco sound recordings.
Curtiss was responsible for the manufacturing of the vinyl,
for the production of matrixes and plates, and for the pressings.
He constantly tried to improve the quality of the final product,
difficult as it was, given the limited budgets and the fact
that a special mix of vinyl had to be used. On many an occasion
heated discussions took place between Don
George Curtiss and Gabor's cousin Steve, about the recordings,
the quality of the vinyl, and what could be done to make improvements.
And George definitely had different views. As he considered
that the quality of the final product that left the plant
was also his responsibility, he often picked out several pressings
and took these home to check the quality. While using a red
"china marker" (wax grease pencil) he would pick
out imperfections in the pressings and indicated that improvements
or corrections should be made.
George Curtiss was also the man who wrote the liner notes
for a number of early recordings before a host of
writers, critics and musicologists was hired to fill the
backsides of the covers with notes and biographical details,
set up a record pressing plant in Puerto Rico for Don Gabor.
After the sale of the Webster factory and the pressing plants
in Canada and Puerto Rico in 1959 to Thompson Record Corporation,
a financial syndicate, Don Gabor reorganized his business
and now operated out of resident offices in the Bronx. George
Curtiss left the Remington Record Company in 1963, as views
on how to continue in the new era of the stereo record were
diverging. To make things easy in the beginning, Sam Goody
offered George a work space to set up his Eurotone Record
The photograph of George Curtiss conferring was taken around
1960 during a recording session. George Curtiss died in May
Gabor was a hard working man and a demanding entrepreneur. Total personal
commitment is the trademark of many men who have a vision and start
a business of their own. Gabor's vision was of building a record emporium,
producing 'music for millions' and challenging the big companies.
Gabor not only gave all his time and energy himself, he also expected
total commitment from his workers in the office as well as in the
he had a new idea he immediately would call a producer, even in the
middle of the night or in the early hours of the morning, and 'ask'
him to come over and talk about what needed to be done to realize
the idea or to implement a new strategy. In this way many series may
have been originated, the series of the Young Violinists, the
series of recordings done with the American Composers Association,
the Music Plus Series, the Junior kiddie disks, and
the Music Appreciation Library ("inspired" by Music-Appreciation
Records of the Book of the Month Club) produced for Remington and
the Paris label by Dr. Sigmund Spaeth.
was inevitable that valuable managers, assistants, producers and even
workers would quit sooner or later, as often enough an individual's
ideas about how to get the job properly done, had to be put aside.
And also in many cases payment was not always on time. This suggests
that capital was not always sufficiently available. Reaching a goal
was often more important than the remuneration. The means justified
flaw did not prevent Gabor acquiring the collaboration of famous
musicians, pedagogues, writers and graphic artists. On the contrary.
Many well known figures did cooperate. Violinists Georges Enesco
and Albert Spalding, pianists Edward Kilenyi and Ernst
von Dohnanyi, and conductor Thor Johnson, they all performed
in front of the Remington microphones. Yehudi Menuhin and Jacques
Thibaud endorsed the series created by violin pedagogues
Theodore and Alice
Dr. Sigmund Spaeth, John W. Freeman and
Irving Kolodin (to name just three) wrote liner notes.
designed a house style for the Remington company, a new cover and
label, and Curt John Witt, Otto Rado, Slonevski and H. Kaebitz, and
many other artists (and often Alex Steinweiss himself) delivered the
art work to fill in the basic grid.
Don Gabor Production', the crown, the vertical row of boxes
which spelled REMINGTON, the Musirama label, plus the heading
on the stationery (and other documents) with the slogan 'music
for millions', the capital R on the catalog with the Remington
logo, and the black/gold sticker with the important text 'factory
sealed', they were the elements defining the corporate image
of Remington Records Inc.
made Don Gabor an important figure in the record business. An early
address which was mentioned was on Broadway, but in Billboard's Music
Year Book of 1943 263 West 54th Street is the address of the
company of which Donald H. Gabor is president and Mrs. Donald H.
Gabor is vice-president.
In the early nineteen fifties the office's address was a Suite on
Fifth Avenue (first at No. 500 and later at No. 551). He had become
a well-to-do business man and a force in the industry to be reckoned
with. Gabor led a rich social life, together with his wife Valery,
known to everyone as Wally (and she was not a singer as many opera
buffs want us to believe), and with his daughters Edna and Geraldine,
living in a luxurious 20-room mansion on Delafield Avenue in the Riverdale
area (Bronx), and spending holidays in their Cape Cod summer residence.
had wit. When news from the hospital said that George's wife had given
birth to a little baby-girl, Donald wrote a letter on the Remington
stationary, to be delivered to George Curtiss at the Webster pressing
plant announcing the birth. Gabor wrote: "Dear Mr. Curtiss, This
is to inform you that today I have shipped to your hospital one baby
girl. For further details, please call the hospital. Very truly yours,
was a serious and social man too, but only then when he chose to be,
as is so often the case with rulers of a big enterprise. He
Bartók by paying him a generous allowance, far more
than the actual profit of the sales of the master's Continental records.
When in 1956, Hungary fought against their government and against
the rule imposed by the Soviet Union, and on November 10th the revolution
finally failed, Gabor supported his relatives. Donald's cousin Steve
fled Hungary with his 8 month pregnant wife and his son Peter and
daughter Kathleen. Steve was offered a job as a manager of the Webster
plant, the factory which was supervised by George Curtiss. Sometime
later Gabor released another disc with Hungarian Gypsy Music now played
by the Imre Magyari Orchestra, on Masterseal M-667. The
liner notes reminded many Americans, and not only those of Hungarian
descend, of the
Revolution (uprising) in 1956.
must have been numerous other occasions when Gabor helped out, for
example by arranging a loan for buying a house, or by giving sound
advice as Laszlo Halasz's son Richard recalls:
"Don Gabor was one of the
nicest colleagues my father had introduced me to. I recall his
home filled with antiques and in particular a suit of armor. He
had given me a great deal of business advice growing up, as well
as instrumental advice concerning my business when I became successful."
- Richard Halasz
taste for antiques was not only evident in his home as Richard Halasz
tells, but extended itself in the creation of several beautiful editions.
The releases of the early Masterseal records which were produced by
Marcel Prawy had luxurious, heavy gatefold sleeves, each covered on
the outside with a different snake skin pattern with gold lettering.
Some time after George Enesco's death in 1955, Gabor had a beautiful
wooden box handcrafted with in it a one sided shiny, silvery 12" matrix
with Enescu's two Romanian Rhapsodies engraved and adorned with the
Continental label. The first publication that mentioned this special
item was Cash Box of July 25, 1964. According to Billboard Magazine
of December 6, 1980, Gabor pressed "100 copies of a recording
of the music of George Enesco. Coated with platinum, he sold each
disk for $1,000."
Georges Enesco had recorded the
Six Sonatas and Partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach for the Continental
label and had conducted his Romanian Rhapsodies with l'Orchestre des
Concerts Colonne de Paris, released on the Remington label. The Sonatas
and Partitas were issued in 1950. The Romanian Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and
2 in 1951 and 1952 respectively on 10 inch LP's.
limited edition of the "Roumanian Rhapsodies"
was offered to a select group of people to commemorate the cooperation
and the importance of the great Romanian artist, and not only for
Gabor. The label reads: "LIMITED EDITION" and "Hand
Processed from Original Masters Limited to 100 Copies only".
At the same time - in 1956 that was - Remington R-199-207 was released,
containing the two Rhapsodies, also on one side of a 12 inch disc.
(They were coupled with Heitor-Villa Lobos conducting the RIAS Symphony
Orchestra in a recording of his Choros No. 6.) On the page about Georges
Enesco, you can hear the beginning of Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, conducted
by the composer, taken from R-199-207.
the last page of this catalog from 1953 the MUSIRAMA productions
are being announced.
many labels with much of the same material, which was of course clever
marketing, is being seen by many as Gabor's main trait. That can be
true. But his geniality was in creating the Remington label, right
from the start, and especially when it evolved into a better quality
label with the introduction of the MUSIRAMA '3 Dimensional Sound'
recordings with the multiple microphone placement. That was when
Robert Blake was the recording technician, and conductor Laszlo
Halasz had teamed up with Don Gabor and George Curtiss and became
Remington's recording director, replacing Edward Kilenyi who had become
music teacher at the Florida School of Music. The Musirama recordings
were mainly made in Germany (with the RIAS Symphony) and in
Italy (with the Orchestra of the Teatro la Fenice) and a few
at home (with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra). See also
Gabor in Berlin.
In 1952 the Cinerama movie format was officially introduced to the
public. Cinerama is a combination of the words cinema
and panorama. That inspired Donald H. Gabor coined the
term MUSIRAMA, a combination of music and panorama.
That was also the time of the atomic tests in the Nevada desert that
had started in 1951. The Musirma label shows the atomic symbol. Another
proof of how Donald Gabor used elements that were in the spotlight
at the time.
recordings of individual artists playing recitals, the Mastertone
Recording Studios Inc. in New York City, NY 10036, were hired.
It is probable that the recording of Sari Biro playing Bartok,
Kabalevsky and Kodaly (released in December 1953), as well as the
recitals of Jorge Bolet, of Ossy Renardy with Eugene
List, of duo pianists Pierre Luboshutz and Genia Nemenoff,
were recorded there for the Musirama Series, which meant a vast improvement
over the early Remington sound recordings. One could say that in the
mid fifties Gabor was at the pinnacle of his achievements. He was
a conceptual thinker and even wanted to make a small Remington gramophone
record player available to give optimum results when playing the disks.
As one of the first companies he introduced the plastic inner sleeve
(bag) to protect the records, and after RCA had announced the Gruve
Gard (Groove Guard) in the fall of 1954, Gabor soon gave new pressings
the higher rim and elevated label.
Remington label was discontinued fully a year or so after the stereo
record had been introduced (September, 1958). Then Gabor (re-) issued
cheap, low quality recordings, which were only available at gas stations
and in super markets and were no longer listed in the official record
catalogs, Schwann and The Longplayer.
The fact that Gabor did not follow the road for further improvement
but overlooked the importance of sound quality, was an omission that
kept him, regrettably, from establishing a quality label that withstood
the passage of time. If he had done otherwise and had continued the
cooperation with the Bertelsmann label, had contracted the
Cincinnati Symphony which could have been the label's main
orchestra, if he had expanded his international contacts and had released
quality recordings in the stereo era, his top label ultimately could
have evolved into the class of Vox, Turnabout, Dover, Kapp, Vanguard
the beginning of the nineteen sixties Gabor revived Continental
Record Co. Inc. for a short time. The office was located at 630,
9th Avenue. The company then also produced 8-track cartridges
labeled 'Radiant' but without much success. He relocated the office
once again, but now to his home in the Bronx. Several covers mention
"Paris Sound Laboratories - 4645 Delafield Ave, Riverdale, New
the nineteen seventies there was no specific activity of 'A Don Gabor
production', in any case not advertised as such. Those were the years
when several recordings were licensed to other labels. The most famous
are the three records with violinist Georges Enesco performing Bach's
Sonatas and Partitas, issued by Bert Whyte's Everest Records.
Other taped recordings were reissued on Vox. Gabor's company
is then named 'American Tape Corporation'.
Null reissued several taped performances, of which the tapes were
given to him by Donald Gabor himself. Null's label was
were the 'Remington Series' with specific recordings like those
of Albert Spalding playing Dohnanyi's Violin Sonata with Ernst
von Dohnanyi at the piano, and Georges Enesco playing his
Sonata No. 2 with Céliny Chailley-Richez. There is Simon
Barere playing Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and formerly unissued Scriabin
Etudes. On Varèse-Sarabande Gabor's first commercial stereo
recordings, made in 1953, were issued, with the Cincinnati
Symphony and the
Helsinki University Chorus performing
Sibelius (Origin of Fire, Pohjolah's Daughter, and Songs by Sibelius
a/o.). Possibly Emory Cook made his binaural recordings in Boston
around the same time for release on the
Binaural Records Label. In February 1954 RCA made their first
commercial stereophonic recordings, and Mercury by 1955.
Dvorak's 4th (8th) Symphony conducted by
Thor Johnson, as well as some
of the recordings made with the
RIAS Symphony Orchestra
- like Jussi Jalas conducting the 1st Symphony of Jean Sibelius
and Anja Ignatius playing five of the Six Humoresques for violin and
orchestra - were done in stereo and issued in stereo by Tom Null.
Gabor died on his 68th birthday - 20 November, 1980 - of a heart attack.
An obituary was published in The New York Times on November 25th.
Gabor was called a colorful entrepreneur, a leader in making classical
music available to many people by charging low prices, 99 CT. per
record when he started to release the Remingtons. That is correct.
His undeniable importance lays, from the very beginning of his enterprises,
in his decision to make the Long Playing record a medium for the masses
and applying unusual means to achieve that goal. In doing so he showed
many a record company the way to create new strategies in marketing.
On November 23rd, 1980, an 'afternoon worship' was held in the Riverdale
Presbyterian Church. The words of French nobleman Stephen Grellet
(the lines slightly altered, maybe written down from memory) were
typed on the order of service:
shall pass through this world but once.
Any good that I can do, or any
kindness that I can show to any human being,
let me do it now. Let me not defer or ne-
glect it. For I shall not pass this way again.
Rudolf A. Bruil,
June 30th 2005.
TO THE REMINGTON SITE WITH LINKS TO ARTISTS or
A PERSONAL INTRODUCTION or
>>>CONTINUE READING THE STORY
I expect to pass
through this world but once.
Any good things, therefore, that I can do,
any kindness that I can show a fellow being,
let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.
- Stephen Grellet