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    

Uk Columbia Sax 2531 Kogan Gilels Sonatas For 2 Violins Lp Stereo 1964 TurquoiseQueen A Night At The Opera Rare Limited Edition Lp Picture Disc Near MintAudiophile Queen A Night At The Opera Lp Half-speed Orig Master Mfsl 1-067 NmPhilips Digital Mozart Great Sonatas Violin Grumiaux Piano Klein Box 5lp NmUk Columbia 33cx 1415 Tartini Mozart Sonatas David Oistrakh Lp Mono 1950sUk Columbia Sax 2441 Mahler Symphony 4 Klemperer Lp Stereo Turquoise 1962Queen: A Night At The Opera Lp Mobile Fidelity Mfsl AudiophileUk Hmv Asd 572 Berg Concerto Violin Ferras Pretre Barbizet Lp Stereo 1964 W/gColumbia Sax 2470-2 1st Press Julliard String Quartet Haydn Quartets Near Mint Sax 2315 Violin Oistrakh - Cluytens Beethoven Concerto Uk Columbia 12" Lp Mravinsky Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5 Dgg Sample Red Stereo Tulip Slpm 138658 NmPhilips Digital Schubert Sonata Arpeggione Argerich Cello Maisky NmPhilips Hifi Stereo Chopin Cello Sonatas Janos Starker Piano Sebok NmSax Blue/silver Oistrakh, Klemperer Play Brahms Violin ConcertoOtto Klemperer Bach Brandenburg C. Orig Columbia Sax 2408/9 Uk-1961 2-lps NmDgg 2709 047 Nathan Milstein Bach Sonatas And Partitas 3lp Box Set Stereo 1975Columbia 33cx 1515 Bach Cello Suite No. 2 - 5 Janos Starker NmColumbia Sax 2514 Ed1 Schubert Sym. 5 - 8 Otto Klemperer Nm* Emi Asd 2436 1st Uk * Nm * Du Pre - Brahms Cello SonatasUk Decca Sxl 2006 Mendelssohn Bruch Violin Ricci Gamba Lso Stereo 1958 Wide BandColumbia Sax 2377 Carlo Maria Giulini Conducts Rossini & Verdi - Po Exed1 T/s Uk Decca Sxl 2110 Schubert Trout Curzon Vienna Octet Lp Stereo 1958 Wide BandUk Hmv Asd 267 Beethoven Fifth Symphony Cluytens Bpo Lp Stereo White Gold 1958Sal 3504 Hifi Stereo Szeryng Plays Schumann, Mendelssohn Violin ConcertiFalp 152 - Devy Erlih - Mozart - Violin Concerto 12" LpBach - Complete Cello Suites / Starker / Mercury Sri 3-77002 Stereo 3lp HollandUk Decca Sxl 2015 Tchaikovsky Symphony 4 Argenta Lp Stereo 1958 Wide BandHoelscher (cello) Kleine Stücke Großer Meister Telefunken Ble 43071 NmDgg 2709 028 Szeryng Plays Bach Solo Violin Sonatas And Partitas CompleteUk Hmv Dvorak Cello Concerto Jacqueline Du Pre Cso Barenboim Lp Stereo 1971Asd 478 Gold / Cream Schubert"rosamunde" Kempe Vpo Hmv StereoSax 2471 Blue/silver Original Juillards Play Mozart QuartetsPhilips Ed1 Beethoven Complete Sonatas Grumiaux Haskil Box 4lp NmAudiophile Solti Beethoven 9th 2-lp Mfsl 2-516 Japan Tas List Rare Gatefold NmSxl 2298 Ed1 Original Rostropovitch Plays Debussy Schumann EtcAsd 655 Semi-circle Original Du Pre Plays Elgar Cello ConcertoOistrakh-fournier Brahms Double Concerto Columbia Uk LpSxl 2289 Kertesz: Dvorak Symphony No.5 New World Decca Ed1 Wbg Stereo LpSax 2436 Blue/silver Original Klemperer Conducts Mozart SymphoniesPhilips Serenata Violin Andre Rieu Maastricht Salon NmDgg 138081 Beethoven Cello Sonatas Lp Fournier Gulda Tulips Red Stereo Ex++Mischa Elman Seiger Grieg Violin Sonatas Decca Ed.1 Uk Lxt 5113 NmPhilips Hifi Stereo Boccherini Cello Con. Gendron Casals NmMilstein Bach Solo Violin Sonatas & Partitas Dgg Stereo 3 Lps NmElodie Lauten "concerto For Piano & Orchestral Memory" Free Jazz Lp Cat Vg++Rca Red Stereo Ed1 Schubert Arpeggione Sonata Schafran Pecherskaya NmEdith Peinemann Violin Maag Dvorak Ravel Ed1 Dgg Tulip Stereo 12" Lp SlpmSupraphon Red Stereo Ed1 Wieniawski Violin Ida Haendel Smetacek NmSxl 2236 Ed1 Original Katchen Plays Brahms 2nd Piano ConcertoSax 2572 Szell: Brahms Symphony No. 3 Columbia Red Semi Ed1 Stereo Lp Ex!!Sxl 2279 - Violon Concerto - Ricci / Sargent - Wbg Ed.1 - ExPhilips Bach 6 Sonatas For Clavier Violin Szeryng Walcha Box 2lp NmBeethoven Symp.#3 - Klemperer - Philharmonia Orch. - Columbia Sax-2364Janos Starker - Kodaly - Duo For Violin & Cello - Period Spl-510Falp 192 Aline Van Barentzen Piano Solo Beethoven Sonates 12" Lp Philips Serenata Violin Andre Rieu Maastricht Salon NmQueen A Night At The Opera Vinyl - 1975 Queen & Elektra/asylum/nonesuch Records Sxl 2289 - Dvorak - Symphony No.5 - Kertesz - Wbg Ed.1 - Excellent!33cx 1562 B/g Ed.1- Paganini Violin Concerto No.1- Leonid KoganAudiophile Karajan : Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 Lp Mfsl 1-512 Made In Japan Nm

Recent News: Classical Records

Source: Google News

How to Shop for Classical Music on Vinyl
L.A. Weekly, February 6th

Just like Columbia, Blue Note and Verve are trusted labels for jazz music, there are a handful of important American and European classical record labels you should know. This is obviously not an exhaustive list (and there is no need to limit yourself...Read more

'Precious Time': Neil Giraldo and Pat Benatar Share Thoughts About Past, Present
Naples Herald, January 29th

Pat Benatar: “To me…it's never ending. I'd still like to do a classical record. I'd like to do a blues record. I'd like to do a complete record of Christmas standards. I'd like to do an orchestral tour. Broadway…it doesn't end. I want to write...Read more

Cho Seong-jin Signs with Deutsche Grammophon
KBS WORLD Radio News, January 24th

South Korean pianist Cho Seong-jin has won an exclusive contract with the German classical record label Deutsche Grammophon. France-based Solea Management representing Cho announced the deal on its Web site without offering specifics. Cho, the ...Read more

Swampscott softball defeats Classical
Daily Item, January 19th

The loss evens Classical's record at 5-5 while Swampscott, which got off to an 0-2 start, won its sixth straight. Mayblyum pitched all seven innings, striking out six. “I'm proud of the kids,” said Swampscott coach Frank Kowalski. “Everyone's learning...Read more

Anoushka's 'Home' to grace Nishagandhi fest
Times of India, January 18th

Recorded at her home studio in London, 'Home' is Anoushka's third release with German classical record label Deutsche Grammophon and has been nominated in the 'Best World Music Album' category of the upcoming 58th Grammy awards. "Home is a ...Read more

Making waves: classical music and the rise of streaming
Gramophone, October 6th

However, whilst metadata and audio quality have been the burning issues for classical journalists and listeners, it's the economics of streaming that has been alarming certain independent specialist classical record companies. In fact, as far as they...Read more

A classical record master has died
Slipped Disc, May 4th

Distressed this morning to receive news of the death on Friday of Paul Myers, an engaging character who was head of CBS Masterworks and, later, a driving force at Decca. Urbane, engaging and vastly well informed, Paul was a man of the world in the ...Read more

Q&A with Socalled: Hiphop classical record lands a Juno nod
Ottawa Citizen, March 13th

Q&A with Socalled: Hiphop classical record lands a Juno nod. Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen More from Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen. Published on: March 13, 2015 | Last Updated: March 13, 2015 4:18 PM EST. MONTREAL, QUE: MAY 11, 2011-- Josh ...Read more