Sunday, 30 November 2014

Patriotic Gramophone Records

Now that 100 years have past since Europe decided to fight it out I thought I would share this fragment of the initial enthusiasm.

Allies in Arms - Selection 1

Hearts of Oak – England
La Brabançonne – Belgium
St Patrick – Ireland
Russian Hymn – Russia
Rule Britannia – England
See the Conquering Hero –England

Allies in Arms - Selection 2

Le Marseillaise – France
The Garb of Old Gaul – Scotland
The Maple Leaf – Canada
Marcia Reale – Italy
Men of Harlech- Wales
God Save the King – England

Metropolitan Military Band

conducted by Arthur Crudge

HMV C 378
(Al8088f & Al8089f)
Recorded: Monday, 17th August, 1914

(If you are not familiar with FLAC I can recommend Foobar2000 player)

The Gramophone Company was taken completely by surprise on the outbreak of war in 1914. Sales of records ground to a complete halt, as did recording. One feels a general panic in the recording industry as no one really knew what to do.  Louis Sterling of Columbia was quickest off the mark and probably the first to see the possibilities of patriotic songs and music.

The recording schedule at the Gramophone Co. Ltd shows that it all but halted for a couple of weeks until they knew how to handle the crises. This particular patriotic record was recorded and rushed out and it probably was just the thing to be played at recruiting events. My example is both worn and cracked, so it has had a rather tough life of patriotic playing.
Recruiting in Trafalgar Square, London in 1915

Arthur Crudge is the anonymous conductor probably of his own Imperial Orchestra under the name of the Mayfair Orchestra. This was the name given to the Gramophone Company’s ‘House’ Orchestra which had a fluid personnel, and several directors or conductors over several decades.

This the sum total of what i know of the conductor: Crudge was born near Hanover Square, London in 1862 and married a Laura Sapey in 1887. From 1900 his Imperial Orchestra began to entertain the public at such events as the Richmond Royal Horse Show, the conversazione of Committee of the London Schools. Crudge renamed his orchestra the British Imperial Orchestra sometime during the war. Apparently he got divorced in 1923, or at least he seems to have gone to the US in 1921 at the same time as divorce proceeding were wending through the court, later he married again to a Evelyn Ada Scheitlin. His orchestra was still performing in 1931 as Arthur Crudge’s Orchestra although he seems to have died in 1930! I believe he may have had a son, also Arthur, so this could be the explanation. Again as with so many of these minor players, information is in short supply. 

As the additional label on side one of this record makes clear ‘All profits yielded by this series of records of which this is one are paid to the National Relief Fund.’ I believe this equated to about 1d per record or about 2% of the cost price of 5s 6d. I do not know what the other record in the series were as I have never seen another record with this label; or indeed with the patriotic flags on the other side. Oddly the selection included Italy who were not persuaded which side to enter the War on until 1915.

One of the nice things about this recording is that you can plainly hear in a few places Crudge enthusiastically exhorting his players on. The music is a bit of a patchwork that may have been knocked together at fairly short notice by Crudge for the players do sometimes seem slightly lost - I wonder if it is Fred Gaisberg who is giving the Russian Hymn on the tubular bells, one of his specialities in the early days of recording.


  1. Thanks so much! It's somehow moving and disturbing to hear this - brings 1914 back to life as vividly as those precious old films. And we're just old enough to have grown up with a sort of dim national memory of the power of all those tunes. Great sleuthing, as usual, too! All the best, G

  2. How much is something like this worth x