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]

317X

317X

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]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

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    

Columbia Sax 2315 Ed1. Oistrakh Beethoven Violin Concerto Op. 61 Nm StunningHmv Asd 2466 Du Pre [c] Lso Barbirolli Haydn & Monn Cello ConcertosDevy Erlih 6 Sonatas&partitas Ades Analog Remaster Audiophile Limited NKunzel-uhqr Super-cut Telarc Digital-tchaikovsky 1812-tas-nm-box-dgqr-10041Columbia Sax 2276/7(2) Klemperer Po Beethoven Sym No 9 ChoralEmi Asd 3352 Ida Haendel (v) "a Classical Recital" Parsons (p)Columbia 33cx1738 Kogan (v) Cons Orch Silvestri Beethoven VcDecca Sxl 2004 Martinon Vpo Tchaikovsky Sym No 6 PathetiqueHmv Asd 451 Kubelik Vpo Mozart Sym 36 & 28Emi Asd 3566 Shafran [c] Gotlieb (p) Schubert Arpeggione SonataHmv Alp1479 Neveu (v) Po Susskind Sibelius VcColumbia Sax 2262 Klemperer Po Brahms Symphony No 1Columbia 33cx 1395 Kogan (v) Po Ackermann Mozart Vc 3/prokofiev Vc 2Hmv Alp 1286/7(2) Furtwangler Bayreuth Festival Beethoven Choral SymArchiv Apm14029 Mainardi [c] Bach Cello Suites 1 & 2Decca Sxl 2190 Backhaus (p) Isserstedt Vienna Po Beethoven Pc No 3Decca Sxl 2313 Lanchberry Royal Opera House Herold-lanchberry Fille Mal GardeeB/s Columbia Saxs 2446 Sax 2447-50 Bach St. Matthew Passion Klemperer Sms 1013Columbia Sax 2497 Klemperer Po T/sky Sym 5Mendelssohn & Bruch: Violin Concertos - Ricci / Gamba **decca Sxl 2006 Wbg Ed1**Emi 1a0651651801 Lola Bobesco (v) Rtbf Orch Doneux Beethoven Vc AutographedOiseau Lyre Ols 133 Bach Six Suites For Unaccompanied Cello Clement *nm*Columbia Sax 2458 Klemperer Po T/sky Pathetique SymDecca Sxl 2109 Krips Vpo Tchaikovsky Symphony No5Ricci,ansermet '60/prok Violin Cons 1&2/uk Ffss Wide Band Bb Stereo Lp/nm-!!Lsc 2313 Sd Nm "venice" Solti, Royal Opera House Orchestra, Verdi, Rossini, EtcDecca Sxl 2010 Backhaus (p) Vpo S/isserstedt Beethoven Pc No 4Beethoven Violin Concerto Uk Lp Sax 2315 Columbia Red Semi Circle, OistrakhColumbia Sax 2529 Szell Cleveland Orch Mozart Sym 35/haydn Sym 92Decca Sxl 2178 Backhaus (p) Vpo S/isserstedt Beethoven Pcs Nos 1 & 2Angel 35365 Johanna Martzy (v) Antonietti (p) Schubert Violin SonatasCoup D'archet Coup001 Johanna Martzy (v) Antonietti (p) Franck/ravel SonatasHmv Asd 267 Cluytens Vpo Beethoven Sym No 5Columbia Sax 2486 Klemperer Po Mozart Sym 40 & 41Nathan Milstein/bach Partitas And Sonatas For Unaccompanied Violin Capitol MonoHeifetz,hendl,chicago 1960/sibelius Con/rca Lsc-2435 Shaded Dog 1s,6s St Lp/nm-!Angel 35364 Johanna Martzy (v) Antonietti (p) Schubert Violin Sonatas 1 & 2Still Sealed Classical Harp Lp Argerich & Abbado Bpo Dgg 139349 Ger-67 Promo Angel 35366 Johanna Martzy (v) Antonietti (p) Schubert Rondeau Brillant Op 70Hmv Asd 358 Rostropovitch [c] Rpo Boult Dvorak Cello ConcertoHmv Alp 1526 Furtwangler Vpo "pop Concert"Decca Sxl 2249 Wbg Uk Ed1-brahms-dvorak-hungarian+slavonic Dances-reiner Vpo/nm+Coup D'archet Coup007 Johanna Martzy (v) Bach Sonata 1 & Partita 3Decca Sxl 6059 Ansermet Suisse Rom Brahms Sym No 1Columbia 33cx1692 Kogan (v) Po Kondrashin Brahms VcNixa Plp 510 Starker [c] Kodaly Sonata For Unaccompanied Cello Op 8Decca Sxl 2110 Curzon (p) With Vienna Octet Schubert The Trout QuintetDecca Sxl 2002 Curzon (p) Vpo Knappertsbusch Beethoven Pc No 5Unicorn Dkp9010/12(3) Ricci Bach Sonatas & Partitas For Solo ViolinColumbia Sax 2357 Karajan Bpo Tchaikovsky Sym No 4Williams' Jug Band 78: Organ Grinder/you Ain't Too Old Columbia 2863 Blue WaxBeethoven/cluytens/david Oistrakh 1959 Uk Lp Columbia Sax 2315 B/s Stereo 1stHmv Clp 1032 Ida Haendel (v) Lso Celibidache Brahms VcOistrakh Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante & Duo Decca Orig. Uk Sxl Wbg Ed1 1g/2gDecca Sxl 2058 Bohm Vpo Mozart Cosi Fan Tutte (h/l) Della Casa LudwigDecca Sxl 6061 Ansermet Suisse Rom Brahms Sym No 3Decca Sxl 2031/2(2) Die Walkure (wagner) Vpo Solti FlastadTchaikovsky/the Kroll Quartet 1960 Uk Lp Columbia Sax 2507 B/s Stereo 1stDgg Red Stereo Tulip 11/62 Tchaikovsky Mravinsky Symphony 4 Slpm 138657 As NewSax 2402 Schubert Annie Fischer Blue Silver 1st Press Ex+++

Recent News: Classical Records

Source: Google News

Daft Punk Tour 2014 Not Pushing Through? Search For A Venue Didn't Work ...
KpopStarz, September 30th

The duo's latest album Random Access Memories became a huge hit in the last year and grabbed tons of awards during the Grammys including Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical), Record of the Year and the duo and ...Read more

Aussie Label With Dodgy Grant Writes Remarkably Arrogant Open Letter
Tone Deaf, September 24th

Earlier this week it was revealed that the Abbott Government had secretly awarded $275,000 to for-profit classical record company Melba Recordings despite no funding round or open application processor their grant. Uncovered by Artshub, Arts Minister ...Read more

Small-scale Scots music label Delphian is making a big noise
Herald Scotland, September 23rd

So when, one night in the pub during the final year of his BMus, fellow student Kevin Findlan suggested that Edinburgh needed a classical record label, Baxter jumped at the idea. Start-up grants from the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust and Small ...Read more

Abbott Government Caught In Dodgy Record Label Grant
Tone Deaf, September 21st

They say it's not what you know but who you know, and that certainly couldn't be truer in this case where a grant of $275,000 has been granted to for-profit classical record company Melba Recordings despite no funding round or open application process...Read more

Questions raised over $275000 grant to record company Melba Recordings
Sydney Morning Herald, September 19th

Arts Minister George Brandis has confirmed he has awarded $275,000 to a for-profit classical record company Melba Recordings despite no funding round or open application process. In a statement, the Minister said the money had come from the Australian ...Read more

Electric rodeo
Minnesota Daily, September 18th

It's somewhere between a Stan Kenton record and a classical record.” Jennings is the son of outlaw country progenitor Waylon Jennings and bad-girl chanteuse Jessi Colter. The younger Jennings eschews mainstream pop-country twang for a rollicking ...Read more

John Butt: a rightful Gramophone award winner
The Guardian, September 18th

Naysayers press the point that the classical record industry is doomed; no one's interested in buying classical music on CD, and when it comes to the Mozart Requiem and Bach Brandenburg Concertos, those few remaining “physical product” geeks have ...Read more

Today in Music History
Edmonton Journal, September 8th

In 1920, Canadian classical record producer Eleanor Koldofsky was born in Toronto. In 1941, Otis Redding, one of soul music's greatest performers, was born in Dawson, Ga. His records were constantly on the R&B charts from 1965 on. But Redding only ...Read more