Saturday, 16 June 2012

Losing the plot

Edison lost the plot and also lost the war of the Phonographs to the ever rapacious Gramophone. A few last futile attempts to record something better than excerpts and transcriptions of chamber music were however made. This wonderful, compelling, artless performance has been left to languish far too long. I don't think anyone has ever attempted to re-issue it, and I have not been able to locate any reviews either, it did however manage to get listed in WERM.

The set has a few pressing problems that I have minimized as much as possible without interfering too much with the sound quality; side joins were also a bit tricky due to rallentandos.   On The New York Trio much of the information I have pulled from the web, various newspapers and journals but big gaps still remain in  my knowledge of this group.

Schubert: Piano Trio in B-flat major, D.898 (Op. 99)
The New York Trio
Clarence Adler, piano Louis Edlin violin  
Cornelius van Vliet cello

Edison Diamond Disc 80899-80901
[18527 B-1-1; 18528 A-1-1; 18529 A-1-4; 18530 B-1-1; 
18531 A-1-1; 18532 A-1-1; 18533 A-1-2; 18534 A-1-4]
Recorded: Thursday 24th May 1928
Coupled: Monday 17th September 1928
Discontinued: Tuesday 31st December 1929

4 Flac files in a .rar file, Here at Mediafire. [about 86Mb]

The New York Trio was founded about October 1919 the original members being Scipione Guidi, violin, Cornelius van Vliet cello and Clarence Adler piano. Scipione Guidi left the trio in 1923, probably due to his commitments as Concert Master of the the New York Philharmonic from 1921 and was replaced by the violinist Louis Edlin. The trio remained with these three players until at least 1929. I believe for the a number of years there was some sort of interregnum as I find no mention of the trio again until 1936 when the group now included John Corigliano as violinist but was not named as The New York Trio.


Cornelius van Vliet

Cornelius van Vliet (1889-1963), the founder of the trio, was born in Holland. He played with the Concertgebouw and later became principal of the orchestras at Leipzig and Prague. He moved to the United States in 1911 to play with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. He went on to become principal cello with the New York Philharmonic from around 1922 to at least 1928. His time probably coincided with Mengelberg,s tenure as music director. He then became principle cellist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. This could have been prompted by the dispute between Mengelberg and Toscanini which lead to Mengelberg leaving New York in 1930. Van Vliet later taught at the University of Colorado, and retired in 1953.

Aaron Copland & Clarence Adler

Clarence Adler (1886-1969) was born in Cincinnati. He was spotted by Romeo Gorno, a professor at the Cincinnati College of Music, and at the age of twelve Adler was already giving concerts in the South and Midwest of America. By 1902 he realized he needed more advanced training and moved to Berlin where he became a pupil of Alfred Reisenauer, himself a pupil of Liszt and Leopold Godowsky. In 1913 Adler returned to the United States and settled in New York, where he performed with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Willem Mengelberg and the New York Symphony under Walter Damrosch. It was probably through these concerts that he met with van Vliet to form the New York Trio. From 1919 Adler became a respected pedagogue and pianist who taught both Aaron Copland and Richard Rogers. He still performed, often on radio, but his main influence was teaching private classes in New York and Lake Placid.

Victor de Gomez (l) & Louis Edlin (r)
Cleveland Symphony Orchestra 1920

Louis Edlin was born in New York in 1889 of Russian-Jewish parents. He began studying at the age of nine with Arnold D. Volpe (1869-1940), a Lithuanian-born American composer and conductor who came to the United States in 1898. Arnold Volpe organized and conducted his Volpe orchestra, a training orchestra in the years prior to WWI and Louis Edlin gained his first orchestral experience there. Eldin moved to Europe in 1906 and first studied at the Paris Conservatoire with the Belgium Guillaume Rémy and then to Berlin from 1909 where he studied with Fritz Kreisler, among other teachers. Returning to New York in 1911 Eldin played in the first violin section of the New York Symphony from 1911 to 1913. In the 1913-1914 season, Edlin become Concertmaster of the Russian Symphony of New York. Then in the next season he became a member of the first violin section of the Philharmonic Society of New York where he stayed until 1919. At the recommendation of the Philharmonic conductor Josef Stransky, Edlin was appointed Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra where he stayed until the end of the 1923. During his Cleveland years, Edlin taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music and played in the Cleveland String Quartet. In 1923, Edlin returned to New York City and joined the faculty of the Institute of Musical Art (Juilliard) and also that year became a member of the New York Trio. In 1926 Louis Edlin became radio conductor of the Atwater-Kent radio orchestra and later served as a section head of violins and a conductor at the National Orchestral Association, a training orchestra for orchestral musicians in New York City in the 1940s. My last notice of Edlin is from 1951.


I have but meagre information on what the trio performed although the Schubert was in their repertoire from at least 1922. I have tabulated the information I have managed to glean online from various articles and newspapers of all the concerts known to me which can be downloaded HERE [10Kb PDF]


Of recordings I have only been able to trace the Schubert and a live recording from 1953.

Interestingly a different, unpublished? take of the first side [A-1-1] of this performance is available through the Thomas Edison National Park HERE.

A tape held at the Library of Congress of a concert by New York Trio recorded in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, Washington, on Feb. 6, 1953. This includes Mozart trio B flat major, KV502; Beethoven Variations on Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu, op. 121a Beethoven Trio in B flat major, op. 97 and Walter Piston Trio (1935), The Piston I understand was issued on a disc – anyone have that?


The Altenberg Trio web page HERE has the following information on the The New York Trio history.

NEW YORK TRIO (I) [ New York, NY (US) ] (1919 - 1923)
piano: Clarence ADLER * 10.03.1886 Cincinnati, OH (US)† 24.12.1969
violin: Scipione GUIDI 
cello: Cornelius van VLIET * 01.09.1886 Rotterdam (NL)

NEW YORK TRIO (II) [ New York, NY (US) ] (1923 - )
piano: Clarence ADLER * 10.03.1886 Cincinnati, OH (US)† 24.12.1969
violin: Louis EDLIN * 30.09.1893 New York, NY (US) 
cello: Cornelius van VLIET * 01.09.1886 Rotterdam (NL)

NEW YORK TRIO (III) [ New York, NY (US) ] 
piano: Clarence ADLER * 10.03.1886 Cincinnati, OH (US)† 24.12.1969
violin: John CORIGLIANO * 28.08.1901 New York, NY (US)† 01.09.1975 Norfolk, CT (US) 
cello: Cornelius van VLIET * 01.09.1886 Rotterdam (NL)


I ought to say something about Edison. It was unusual to have such a long work recorded over eight sides by Edison so it must have been partly to celebrate the Schubert Centenary and partly to compete against the Cortot, Thibaud, Casals, issue on HMV & Victor.

Edison was losing sales rapidly for the following reasons: a) his sales were concentrated on short popular pieces b) Edison himself vetted all records – he was not too musical and deaf as a post c) hill & dale recordings were not compatible with any other system of reproduction d) the company had made losses since 1924 e) their main clients were outside the cities and almost all rural f) they were late into using electrical recordings – well I could go on but I think you can see where this is headed. The company was wound up in October 1929 and all stock sold or destroyed. The records were issued sometime after the coupling date and from the matrix number I don't think they sold many copies. Three takes were made, A, B and C from which one would be chosen for issue. A mould would be made; and stampers made from that mould: thus A-1-1 equates to take A mould 1 stamper 1. You can see that most of these did not get past the first stamper and those that did may have been due to failures in processing.

Edison Advertisement:

As an addenda I have copied out the blurb in the Edison Supplement for July, August, September 1928.

'Franz Schubert is to-day probably the best known and best loved of all the world's great composers. Yet one hundred years ago he lived and wrote obscure and penniless in his native city of Vienna – a simple, cheerful, generous soul. On November 19 1828, he died there – practically of starvation and almost friendless – at the lamentable age of thirty-one. They found in his room “ a quantity of old music, value $2” now part of the richest single heritage of music ever bestowed upon an astonished world.

'Of the many lovely things that Schubert wrote, one of the loveliest is his Trio in B flat – an exquisite tone-poem, to be approached in loving reverence by musicians – to be heard in thrilled silence by the listener. It is music that speaks of the soul.

'In 1919 three great artists – Adler, Edlin and val Vliet – founded the New York Trio. Nine rich years of ensemble experience have brought to their present performance a perfection of finish and balance which, combined with the music of Schubert, results in beauty almost incredible … Hear this great Trio complete on four records -80898-80901.'

First Edition of the Op 99 Trio, published Vienna 1836


  1. Good gracious, you are thorough. Thanks for everything!

    1. Verging on the obsessive is probably a more accurate evaluation - still, it keeps me out of trouble.


  2. Jolyon, this is masterly - thank you!

    A 'simple, cheerful, generous soul' - now who does that remind us of?

    My 'thrilled silence' is being accompanied by a crumpet with peanut butter.

    Now we just need the Zoellner Quartet's and Philharmonic Quartet of NY's Diamond Discs...


    1. Ta much - all praise gratefully received - my head is getting bigger by the hour.

      Now I do have 80981 by the Philharmonic String Quartet of NY with the 1st & 2nd mvts of Dvorak's F major 'American' Op 96 but need to find the next disc - any kind person out there in the æther who can send me a dub?


  3. Thank you very much indeed.
    I was unaware of the trio, and in my various years of collecting, these are the first really creditable classical Edisons I have heard. They are good documents of performance practice at that time.

    I'm presuming that these are electric recordings. They are superb. My spectral display clearly shows a bandwidth of at least 80 to 9,000 hertz! Edison's acoustic diamond discs are also quite natural and uncolored sounding, but not this extended. What's really interesting about these is that they are more extended in frequencies and they are without the colorations of the electric laterals of the time (cavity resonances in condenser microphones, cutter resonances, etc). One wonders exactly what Edison was doing. Read and Welch mention tinkering in the design—repeatedly re-recording from records to amplify defects)—but not exactly what the recording chain was. If anybody knows,…

    So, this is a technically interesting document as well as a nice example of performance practice at the time.

    I would recommend re-equalizing the rip. It sounds to me as though you recorded the discs with RIAA equalization. I would start by recording it flat. That will get rid of the rumble and heavy bass. There is a well balanced transfer of the trio first movement at the internet archive ( but it's of only the first movement. It's great to have a complete one!

    1. I re-balanced the tracks which I think sounds a lot better.

  4. Yes it is a bit heavy at the bass end - Actually I did transcribe it flat and then applied a Westrex curve. On listening to it I am not sure any curve was applied by Edison to the recording at all as vertical cut records do not have the same problems as lateral - I just made an assumption - will have a look at it again and upload an alternative.

    As noted the bandwidth is high which makes me thing no damping was applied either at the top.

    Reminds me to look up Read & Welch which I have not looked at for years

  5. Great post! I only have a letter from a great-uncle saying he saw the NY Trio on Oct 4 1927 and your blog is the only place I've found so much info about them. The MediaFile no longer links. Do you have info on that particular date that you can share?

  6. Muchas gracias por esta joya, sonido muy bueno, saludos.