Vintage classical vinyl records are prized by collectors for their warm sound quality compared to digital as well as the fact that many rare or out-of-print titles are only available in LP format. There's an extremely wide range of desirable record titles available to classical-music fans, from recordings by famous conductors (Furtwangler, Orff) and instrumentalists (Menuhin, Oistrakh) to rare and compelling pressings by lesser-known artists. Collectors have varying methods of accumulating classical records—some prefer specific conductors, musicians, or record labels, while others fancy particular eras.

Some of the first records ever produced were classical recordings. Beginning in 1903, 12-inch classical records with about five minutes of music per side were sold. These early classical records spun at 78 rpm and mostly featured European classical music, which was popular in the United States at the time.

By the 1930s, with the advent and widespread popularity of radios, these 78 records were no longer sufficient to capture live-music transmissions, which lasted longer than any single disc could hold. After World War II, Columbia thought it had this problem solved when it introduced its 12-inch, 33 1/3 rpm vinyl monaural record, which it branded as the LP, for Long Play. The slower speed allowed record companies to put more music on a disc, although at first popular music was relegated to smaller, less-expensive 10-inch discs.

Eventually, all music went to 12-inch discs, and by the 1950s and 1960s, classical music was largely replaced in the mainstream by jazz and rock ’n’ roll. In response, perhaps, classical composers moved away from some of their staples—tonal centre and harmonic progression. This may have been the heyday of vinyl records, but not necessarily of classical recordings.

Classical music’s struggles continued into the early days of the compact disc, the late 70s and early 80s. Many of the major labels spent heavily to produce a lot of recordings that are widely regarded today as junk, while small retailers were replaced by oversized, and understaffed, record stores. The entire classical music industry was in a state of severe distress.

The few successes of that period, which kept the industry afloat, were reissues of older vinyl records for serious fans, as well as recordings that brought classical music almost into the realm of pop. The prime examples of that type of recording are albums by The Three Tenors—Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti—whose music remains popular to this day.

Collecting classical music records is somewhat easier for the lay collector than other musical genres. This is due in large part to lower prices and the vast variety and quantity...

Some of the most popular classical records on the market include Leonid Kogan’s Beethoven Concerto, released in the United Kingdom by Columbia, Enrico Mainardi’s performances of Bach’s Cellosuites on Deutsche Grammophon, and Rossini’s Sonate a Quattro with Salvatore Accardo on the violin, released by Philips. Recordings by pianist Glenn Gould, particularly of Bach's Goldberg Variations, are enduring favorites, though not especially rare on vinyl.

One of the most collected conductors is Leonard Bernstein, although, as with Gould, his vinyl records, such as those with the New York Philharmonic, are widely available. Bernstein released 72 different vinyl records from 1933 to 1959, but film fans often gravitate to his recordings of "On the Waterfront" or "West Side Story." Other movie-and-classical-music fans look for the collaborations between composer and conductor Bernard Herrmann and director Alfred Hitchcock—Herrmann scored such classics as "North By Northwest" and "Psycho."

In a league of his own is Eugene Ormandy, who spent almost half a century with the Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom he made hundreds of records on labels from RCA Victor Red Seal to Columbia Masterworks, although the quality of the music on his later recordings with EMI/Angel is not considered as strong as his work in the 1950s and '60s.

As with blues, rock, and jazz vinyl records, the quality of a classical recording's cover is also important to most collectors.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]



Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Beggars Opera Lp Act One Uk Vertigo Swirl 1st Press Plays Near MintMozart: Piano Concertos 20 & 23 - Annie Fischer **columbia Sax 2335 B/s Ed1 Lp**Andre Navarra Unaccompanied Bach Solo Cello Suites Calliope 3 Lp Box Mint Rare Leonid Kogan Beethoven Violin Concerto Columbia Sax 2386 Uk 1st Original Ex CondThe Zombies Odessey And Oracle -original Lp On Date - Rare Chamber PsychBeggars Opera Lp Pathfinder Uk Vertigo Swirl 1st Press Plays Near MintVelvet Opera Lp Ride A Hustler's Dream Uk Cbs Orange 1st Press Nice CopyNew York Bass Violin Choir Lp Strata East Lp Bill Lee George Coleman Out JazzColumbia 33cx 1287 Uk Bach Johanna Martzy Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas NmShostakovich Cello Sonata Schubert Shafran Rca Living Shaded Dog Sd Lsc 2553 1sSxl 6093 - Haydn / Janacek Quartet - Orig Decca 1964 Lp - Vinyl Is Nm-Bach: Violin Sonatas & Partitas - Henryk Szeryng **odeon Odx 122-123-124 3lp**Werps "love's A Fire" 45 Garage Rock Bftg Organ HearSax 2514 - Schubert / Klemperer - Unfinished Orig 1964 Columbia Lp - Vinyl Nm-Uk 1st Press White/gold Asd 466 Lp Overtures From Italian Opera SerafinUk 1st Press Sb 2080 Lp Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Szeryng Munch Queen Vinyl Lp Album Record Collection Job Lot Flash Gordon / Opera / RacesBach / Fournier Chamber Music Lp Archive Production Dgg 198 687 Sapm Red StereoMendelssohn:midsummer Night's Dream:otto Klemperer Conducting,columbia Sax.2393 *** Rossini * 6 Sonate A Quattro # Accardo - Philips 6769 024 ***Columbia Sax 2398 B/s - Mendelssohn Schumann Symphonies Otto Klemperer NmQueen A Night At The Opera Near Mint 1975 Uk Vinyl LpViktoria Mullova Works For Solo Violin Bach Philips Digital Lp Nm!!!!Unreleased Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 45rpm 5lp Test Pressing Box SetAsd 655 1st S/c Elgar Cello Concerto Jacqueline Du Pre Barbirolli Exc+Don Shinn Temples With Prophets Mono Lp British Jazz Psych Organ Orig RendellGinette Neveu- Sibelius- Violin Concerto- Suk- Four Pieces- Hmv Lp- Alp 1479Columbia Sax 2422 B/s - Beethoven "emperor" Concerto Richter-haaser Kertesz NmMercury Sr 90367 - Henryk Szeryng - Treasures For The Violin - Gold Promo LabelOtto Klemperer Brahms No.4 Orig Columbia Sax 2350 Uk-1960 Lp NmSax 2378 B/s Rossini Overtures Karajan Philharmonia OrchestraGrumiaux Violin Recital Encore & Fuer Meine Freunde 2lps Philips Mint!!!!Ida Haendel Famous Violin Compositions Supraphon Red-labeled Stereo Nm LpDecca Sxl 2059 Wbg Ed1 - Brahms Symphony No.2 Rafael Kubelik NmMischa Elman:bach/nardini/vivaldi Violin Conc:vanguard Vsd 2073:orig Blk:nmBeethoven Trio Sonata Philips Hi Fi Stereo 835 019 Ay Horszowski Vegh Casals NlBeethoven Piano Concerto No 4 Backhaus Decca Sxl 2010 Wbg 1st Blue Border JacketDgg 139 120 Slpm Stereo - Dvorak Ravel "tzigane" Edith Peinemann Nm *** Beethoven * Violin Concerto # Oistrakh - Columbia Sax 2315 ***Dgg 415416 1 Mischa Maisky Bach 6 Suites Cello 3-lp Box Nm W.germanRockabilly Bluegrass- Dixie Hillbillies W/ Billy Wagner -hear Both- B.r.w.Maisky Argerich Schubert Arpeggione Sonata Philips Digital Lp Nm!* Bach * Brandenburg Concertos # Klemperer - Columbia Sax 2408 / 2409 B/s *Rare! Decca Box (4 Lp) Mozart Don Giovanni Krips Stereo Decca Wb Sxl 2117-20 Ex+Sxl 2092-3 2lp Ed1 Wbg Stereo Uk Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker Osr Ansermet ExcLudwig Hoelscher Jubiläumsausgabe Cello Sonatas 5 Lp Box Mps Sealed!!!Kyung Wha Chung Con Amore Violin Recital Decca Digital Lp Mint!Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto In D Major 45rpm Clarity Test Pressing Box SetMidori Violin Paganini Tchaikovsky Lso Philips Digital Lp Mint!Decca Sxl6331 Mozart's Quartet Party Weller QuartetSchafran Gotlieb Schubert Arpeggione Sonata Emi Lp Nm!!!Lot Of (3) Queen Vinyl Lp Records Jazz, News Of The World, A Night At The OperaNathan Milstein - Mozart Violin Concertos(uk 1965 1st Press Vinyl Album / Ex+!!)Arturo Delmoni Lp "bach, Kreisler, Ysaye" Walter Lily Acoustics Audiophile M-Mullova Violin Vivaldi Quattro Stagioni Philips Digital Lp Nm!Wolfgang Marschner Bach Violin Sonatas 3 Lp Box Nm Christophorus!!Sxl 2114 Tchaikovsky Piano Conc. No. 1 - Vpo / Curzon / Solti - Ed 1 Decca 1959Sxl 2004 Ed1 Tchaikovsky Pathetique Martinon Vpo Midori Paganini 24 Caprices Solo Violin Cbs Digital Lp Nm!!!Sxl 2170/1 2lp Ed1 Wbg Stereo Uk Puccini La Boheme Tebaldi, Bergonzi Serafin

Recent News: Classical Records

Source: Google News

Naxos Introduces Lossless Classical Music Streaming With ClassicsOnline HD•LL, March 2nd

Upwards of 60,000 albums are available to subscribers from over 500 leading independent classical record labels with options to download at 16- and 24-bit lossless formats, as well as in the MP3 format. ClassicsOnline HD•LL isn't stopping there - the ...Read more

Hindustani Classical Vocalist Ila Paliwal Releases Debut Album 'Navaratna,' in ..., February 27th

The concept of the contemporary classical record is to salute the secular and festive spirit of India. “When I decided to do this album three to four years ago, I emailed [A.R. Rahman] the idea for about nine songs for nine seasons,” Paliwal said. “He...Read more

Sad news: Classical record magazine loses its publisher
Slipped Disc, February 23rd

We are saddened to hear that Barry Irving died last night, after a short illness, aged 69. Barry was publisher of Gramophone in the boom times. When the magazine was sold to a corporate owner, he founded International Record Review (IRR) which he ran...Read more

Review: Katherine Jenkins, Colston Hall, Bristol
Bristol Post, February 19th

HOW does a Royal Academy of Music graduate get to top the classical record charts, become a pop diva, a national stadium singer and the mascot for Welsh rugby? In her current touring show, accompanied by a thirty-plus orchestra (naturally including a ...Read more

Where to Find Classical Music Vinyl and CDs in Dallas
Dallas Observer (blog), January 27th

Which, honestly, sucks for those of us who dine out on classical as regularly as other genres, because, really, these implicit opinions about classical music translate into explicit results in the market place, making classical record shopping a far...Read more

Record news: Marathon diva gets promoted at Decca
Slipped Disc, November 27th

Under its banner as “the home of diverse music”, Decca Records has been the number one classical record label in the UK for well over a decade, operating alongside its international ‎sister label Decca Classics which is run by Managing Director Paul ...Read more

Record Routine: storied classical group yMusic releases modern, pleasing album, October 9th

After yMusic was honored in 2011 with Time Out New York's #1 Classical Record of the Year for Beautiful Mechanical, anticipation grew for a follow-up. Their most recent album, Balance Problems, features a closing piece form Sufjan Stevens. Much like...Read more

A Hit Parade of Small Labels and Upstarts
New York Times, December 20th

Fiscal cliffs are nothing new in the classical record industry. As became increasingly apparent when the classical music critics of The New York Times set about the annual ritual of choosing records of the year, the larger economy could perhaps learn a...Read more