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    

Johanna Martzy Bach Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas Vol.3 Columbia 33cx 1288 1st Johanna Martzy Bach Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas Vol 1 Columbia 33cx 1286 1st Mozart Grumiaux Haskil Violin Sonatas Philips Ed.1 Hifi Stereo 835103 Ay NmColumbia 33cx 1497 B/s - Mendelssohn Beethoven Johanna Martzy Kletzki Ed1The Reg Guest Syndicate Underworld 45 Uk Mercury 1966 Hammond Organ Mod DancerMozart Le Nozze Di Figaro Kleiber 4 Lp Box Set Uk Decca Sxl 2087-8-9-90 Wbg RareSxl 2249 Wbg Ed1 Nm Rare! Reiner Brahms Dvorak Slavonic Hungarian Dances6 Lot Queen Heart Attack Races Opera S/t More Lp Vinyl Classic Rock MetalModulo 1000 "nao Fale Com Paredes" 1970 Original Lp Tt-1000 Brasil Organ MonsterDecca Sxl 6426 Nb, Rostropovitch: Schubert Arpeggione, Bridge Sonata For CelloStereo Hmv Asd 297 White Gold Falla El Amor Brujo AndrÉ Vandernoot Classical LpLeonid Kogan - Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (columbia Uk Mono Lp 1960) Ed1 Nice!Columbia Sax 2470-2, Blue Silver: Juilliard Sq: Mozart Haydn Quartete, 3lp MintTas Audiophile Lp Uhqr Super-cut Telarc Dgqr-10041 Tchaikovsky - 1812 Box Rare!Mischa Maisky, Martha Argerich: Schubert Arpeggione, Schumann Op.73Handel / Viotti / Spohr: Sonatas & Duos - Gioconda De Vito **hmv Alp 1462 Lp**Viktoria Mullova Violin Vivaldi 4 Seasons Philips 420 216 Digital Stereo NmSxl 2178 Wbg Ed1 Ex+ Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1 2 Backhaus Schmidt-isserstedtLola Bobesco Violin Doneux Digital Emi Beethoven Mendelssohn Only Belgium Lp NmSxl 2015 Wbg Ed1 Blue Back Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4 Argenta Ex To Ex-Pick Up Only 1600 Lp Albums Records Vinyl Collection Ohio Rock Country ClassicalPhilips 6703 076 Stereo - Bach Sonatas Partitas For Violin Solo Accardo 3 X MintUk Ed.1 Hmv Asd 254 Guido Cantelli Beethoven Symphony No.7 NmFournier Gulda Beethoven Cello Sonatas Dgg Ed.1 Red Stereo Tulip Slpm 138082 NmPhilips 412141 1 Arthur Grumiaux Walter Klien Mozart Sonatas 5 Lps Box SealedDecca 13 Bb 207/212 1st Nm 6lp Mozart Sonatas For Violin And Piano Lupu GoldbergBackhaus Plays Brahms Piano Recital Decca Sxl 2222Janos Starker Schumann & Lalo Cello Concertos Lp Mercury Sr 90347 Rfr-1Sax 2554 Ed1 Notes Stereo Uk Dvorak New World Symphony Phil Orch Klemperer NmTartini: Violin Sonata 'the Devil's Trill' - Campoli **rare Decca Lx 3137 10"**Klemperer Conducts Brahms Symphony No 4 Po Emi Columbia Sax 2350 B/sIda Haendel Famous Violin Compositions Supraphon St 5046533cx 1281 Mono Uk Glazounov, Paganini Violin Concertos Michael Rabin Exc+Janos Starker Bach Six Cello Suites (mono) - Mercury 3lp Set Ol3-116 (rfr-1)Mozart Karl Suske Walter Olbertz Violin Sonatas Eterna Ed.1 Stereo 825979 NmDgg Szeryng Bach Sonatas And Partitas 3 Lps Box Set Early Tulip Label NmPhilips 835152 Ay: Beethoven Nr 3 &7, Oborin, Oistrakh ViolinBach : St Matthieu Passion / O.klemperer 5 Lp Box Uk Columbia Stereo NmintDgg 139 120 Slpm Stereo - Dvorak Ravel "tzigane" Edith Peinemann NmSax 2378 Ed1 B/s Stereo Uk Rossini Overtures William Tell Phil Orch Karajan Bohemian Rhapsody (music Of Smetana & Dvorak) - Kertesz *decca Sxl 6024 Wbg Ed1*Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera Lp Direction 1968 1st Press Dgg 415416 1 Mischa Maisky Bach 6 Suites Cello 3 Lps Box Set Nm -Brahms: Violin Concerto - Gioconda De Vito / Schwarz *original Hmv Alp 1104 Lp*Susanne Lautenbacher 3 Lp "bach Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin" Vox StereoTchaikovsky: Symphony No.5 - Rudolf Kempe / Bpo **hmv Asd 379 C/g Ed1 Lp**Starker - Italian Sonatas - Classical Lp - Living Presence - Sealed No MarksBeethoven's Kiss: The Wonder Of You 7" Ex 1989 C86 Indie TweeQueen ~ A Night At The Opera ** 1975 Uk 1st Emi LpDecca Sxl 2272 Wb Deep Groove: Muenchinger, Mozart Serenade, Vienna Phil.The Rza Chamber Of Fear 2013 Limited Edition Nike 45 Hip Hop Rap Wu Tang Rare Philips 420216 Test: Vivaldi, Abbado, Mullova ViolinGavin Bryars Sinking Of The Titanic Lp Classical Eno Avant Vg+ Beatles Twist And Shout/roll Over Beethoven Or-1078 Japan Red Wax 330 Yen Schneiderhan & Seemann Play Beethoven Violin Sonatas Nos 5 & 9 Dg 138 120 RedPhilips 835153 Ay: Beethoven Nr 9 &4, Oborin, Oistrakh ViolinBrahms: Piano Concerto No.2 - Claudio Arrau **uk First Columbia B/s Sax 2466**Ultra Rare Uk Violin 4 Lps Box Complete Legacy Of Ginette Neveu Hmv Rls 739Jacqueline Du Pre / Barenboim - Beethoven: Cello Sonatas - Emi Orig Sls 5042Decca Sxl 2114 Wbg Ed1 - Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto Curzon Solti Nm

Recent News: Classical Records

Source: Google News

Cancer fund hits £500000
Andover Advertiser, March 28th

questions, including some from the 200-strong audience, comprised Conservative South East England MEP Daniel Hannan, London Labour MEP Lucy Anderson, businesswoman Nicola Horlick and author and classical record producer Alexander Waugh...Read more

Rolled-over Tchaikovsky
Bay Area Reporter, March 25th

His subsequent RCA LP was the first classical record to go platinum, and yes, I did my small part to get it there. It was the perfect storm: adolescence, a handsome hero, and the ultimate in wind-in-your-hair music. You can pretty much count on the...Read more

Elvis Costello brings 'Detour' tour to Fort Lauderdale
MiamiHerald.com, March 16th

But I never really thought I was making a “classical” record: I was just making some sounds and using those instruments to the best of my ability, or I was working with a great acoustic band as opposed to an amplified band — and we were trying to find...Read more

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

Socalled grew up Joshua Dolgin in the village of Chelsea, north of Ottawa. Now based in Montreal, he's been called Canada's Jewish cowboy for his fearless wrangling of hiphop and klezmer. The subject of a 2010 documentary by the National Film Board, ...Read more

In the era of Ableton, do producers still matter?
ChartAttack, March 10th

An email roundtable with Toronto indie musicians and producers about the decline of the classical record producer. chris hampton - Mar 10, 2015. Do Producers Still Matter? share. 150 · tweet. 23. stumble. 546 · submit. 0 · post · pin it. Tagged...Read more

Frank Music in NYC: A Tiny Cultural Institution Closes for Good
The Nonprofit Quarterly, March 5th

Last month, Slipped Disc, a site that reports on classical music and related culture, somberly quoted Neilsen Soundscan data saying “only one classical record—The Ultimate Bocelli—sold more than 350 copies” in that previous week. However, it's worth ...Read more

Naxos Introduces Lossless Classical Music Streaming With ClassicsOnline HD•LL
hypebot.com, 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

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