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    

Gavin Bryars Sinking Of The Titanic Lp Obscure Classical Eno Avant Vg+ Sax 2329 Leonid Kogan Lalo & Tchaikovsky Very Rare 1960 Columbia Eng Lp NmSax 2512/13 Superb Blue/silver Original Szell Conducts Beethoven 9, WagnerBeggars Opera Waters Of Change Lp Uk Vertigo Swirl Rare Prog Rock VgcRare Orig "mainstream" Label 1968 = Tangerine Zoo = Psych Organ + Fuzz Garage !!Pathe Dtx 127 - Brahms - Cello Sonatas - Maurice Marechal - Jeanne-marie DarreBeggars Opera Pathfinder Uk Original Vertigo Swirl In 1972 PostercoverBeggars Opera Pathfinder 1st Uk Press Vertigo Swirl Prog Psych Jazz Rock MonsterSax 2276-2277 (b/s €Sax 2508 Blue/silver Original Milstein Plays Beethoven Violin ConcertoColumbia Sax 2315 B/s Stereo David Oistrakh Beethoven Violin Concerto 1st Ed. David Oistrakh Trio Beethoven: 'archduke' Trio 1959 B/s Uk Columbia Sax 2352 *** Beethoven * Symphonies 2 # Klemperer - Columbia Sax 2331 B/s ***Archiv Apm14029-34-61 & Ap13034 - Bach - Cello Suites Nos.1-6 - Enrico MainardiAsd 451 W/g Kubelik Conducts Mozart Symphonies-ed1.Devy Erlih 6 Sonatas&partitas Ades Analog Remaster Audiophile Limited N*** Schumann / Liszt # Klemperer / Fischer - Columbia Sax 2485 B/s ***Asd 514 White/gold Kubelik Conducts Schubert, Mozart-ed1.Asd 380 (1st Ed €*** Brahms * Symphony No. 2 # Klemperer - Sax 2362 B / S ***Heifetz,munch,bso 1959/mend & Prok Violin/rca Lsc-2314 Sd 1s,1s Stereo Lp/nm-!** Wagner * Die Walk** Mendelssohn * Bruch / Violin Concertos # Ricci / Gamba - Decca Sxl 2006 **Mullova. Tchaikovsky & Sibelius Concertos. 416 821-1. Nm/nm.Erato Lde3026-27 - Schubert - Recital - MichRaymond Agoult, Debussy Clair De Lune Lp Rca Living Stereo Lsc 2326 1s/1sAsd 2466 Du Pre - "haydn Cello Concerto" 1969 Uk Lp - Semi Circle LabelRostropovich : Britten Cello Sonata Ed1  Sxl 2179 Decca Wb/g Ed1 Beethoven/backhaus/vpo U:k 1st Issue Ex!!Sax 2516 (1st Ed €Asd 349 White/gold Original Kubelik Conducts Beethoven PastoralChristian Ferras Bach Complete 6 Sonatas&partitas Neuveglise Very Rare 3lp SetSax 2473-2474 (2nd Ed. €Ansermet.tchaikovsky "sleeping Beauty".sxl 2160-1-2 Ida Haendel. "famous Violin Compositions". Sua St 50465.Sxl 6944 (1st Ed.) Franck & Debussy: Sonatas For Violin & Piano €Sax 2470 Blue/silver Original Juillard Quartet Plays Mozart Haydn Quartets33cx 1700 Janos Starker Cello Recital Very Rare 1960 Columbia Eng Lp Nm-Dupre."favourite Cello Concertos". Sls 895. Mint Still Sealed.Sax 2398 Blue/silver Original Klemperer Conducts Schumann, Mendelssohn*** Beethoven * Symphonies 1 & 8 # Klemperer - Columbia Sax 2318 B/s ***Andre Navarra Unaccompanied Bach Solo Cello Suites Calliope 3 Lp Box Mint Rare Ansermet : Haydn La Poule Ed1  Sax 2252 Columbia T/s Ed1 Beethoven/gilels/ludwig/po U:k 1st Issue Ex!!Sax Blue/silver Original Callas In Rossini Barber Of Seville Complete Columbia Sax 2411 (blue/silver) - Oistrakh, Klemperer - Brahms Violin ConcertoJ S Bach Solo Cello Sonatas Fournier Sapm 198 186-8 2nd Label Early Sleeves Nm-Sxl 6062 Decca Wb/g Ed1 Brahms/ansermet/ldsr U:k 1st Issue Ex!!Sxl 6023 Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 / Curzon / Szell W/b/g-ed1Nathan Milstein,fistoulari '60s/brahms Con/1960s Capitol Fds Stereo Lp/nm!!*** Mendelssohn * Symphony No. 5 # Klemperer - Columbia Sax 2485 B/s ***Enrico Mainardi - Bach Suites For Cello Solo - Orig. Archiv 14029 ApmSls 789 1st Press Nm Col Dog. Du Pre Zukeman Barenboim Beethoven Piano TriosJacqueline Du Pre Barenboim Beethoven: 5 Cello Sonatas 3 Lp Box Set Exc Cond Nr Sxl 6721 Bach Partita No. 2 / Sonata No. 3 / Chung-ed1Kertesz : Mozart Symphonies 33 & 39 Ed1  Sax 2466 Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 / Arrau / Giulini B/s-ed1Sabl 133 (hi-fi-stereo) Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 €Sax 2278 Mozart Symphonies Nos. 25 & 40 / Klemperer B/s-ed1Jean-louis Hardy / Bach Suites For Cello / Cnd 1005

Recent News: Classical Records

Source: Google News

Celebrating 25 years
LaGrange Daily News, January 23rd

His first recording for the Sony Classical record label, “Appalachia Waltz,” was a collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer. The works O'Connor composed for the disc, including its title track, gained him worldwide recognition. The successful follow...Read more

Listening to the Star Wars Soundtrack in a Pygmy Village
The Atlantic, January 10th

In a series of interviews with novelist Michael Ondaatje, Murch recalled a summer cataloguing a radio station's classical record collection, and listening only to medieval music for weeks. After listening to 15th-century music during this solitary...Read more

'Mozart in the Jungle' plays it close to home
Tribune-Review, January 9th

Rodrigo charms a crowd of elderly society ladies who can barely conceal their attraction to the young conductor. “There's no big message to the show,” Schwartzman said. “But it would be amazing if someone saw it and went out and got a classical...Read more

Naxos launches new high-definition music streaming and download service
Gramophone, January 6th

Music Library subscription service, launched in 2002, ClassicsOnline HD•LL is now available for £11.99 per month, and offers a search facility tailored to classical music, plus a catalogue drawn from most of the leading classical record labels...Read more

Hi-Res and Lossless Streaming from ClassicsOnline
San Francisco Classical Voice, January 5th

country, instrument, year released, year composed, label, genre, and, of course, title. It claims a wide range of repertoire from “most” classical record labels, easy playlist creation, genre and artist radio programming, and off-line listening via...Read more

'Mozart in the Jungle' plays it close to home in the classical world
Press Herald, December 28th

exposed to classical music at an early age thanks to his mother, Talia Shire, who would take him to the L.A. Philharmonic. “There's no big message to the show,” he said. “But it would be amazing if someone saw it and went out and got a classical...Read more

Tokyo's magnificent Tower Records
China Post, December 27th

So, is this it for classical record stores as we know them? Can the still well-stocked departments at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, Canterbury in Pasadena and Record Surplus in Santa Monica buck the trend? Will Amazon finally submerge even Tower in ...Read more

I've found classical record buying nirvana – in Tokyo's Tower Records
The Guardian (blog), May 1st

I've found classical record buying nirvana – in Tokyo's Tower Records. If you want a fix of actual tangible classical music product, there's only one place to go. Pity it's the other side of the world … Tower Records flagship store, Tokyo, Japan...Read more