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Victor And Its Massive Lineup Of Recording Artists

From the very beginning, Victor was deemed as a pioneer in the manufacturing processes which led to its rise in the industry by working with famous recording artists. In 1901, Victor launched the so-called “three-track puzzle record” (a single-sided A-821). Two years later, the company also created a 3-step mother-stamper process which allowed an increase in the production of stampers and records as compared to before.

An Ambitious Project

Apparently, enhancing the quality of disc records and phonographs was just the first step towards reaching a bigger goal. Johnson started an ambitious recording project by collaborating with the most prestigious musicians and singers and forming exclusive agreements with the artists whenever possible. Oftentimes however, these recording artists demanded contract fees which seemed too much for the company to make up from record sales alone.

Red Seal Records

The new “celebrity” recordings played a huge part in the promotion of the Victor brand name. These recordings, which bore red labels, were marketed by the company as “Red Seal” records. They were also launched as single-sided records for several years until 1923 when Victor started making “Red Seal” records that are double-sided. The move led to the creation of several advertisements that stated how the greatest music artists in the period claimed recording solely for Victor Records. It also made the majority of the public assume the supremacy of Victor Records over cylinder records which fulfilled Johnson’s initial intention.

Notable Victor Recordings

Comic monologues known as “Uncle Josh” became a huge success under the Victor label. They were performed by popular vaudeville artist Cal Stewart.

Other notable recording artists under the Victor label include:

  • Enrico Caruso (1904-1920). Until mid-1916, the recordings were conducted by Walter B. Rogers. The latter recordings were conducted by Rosario Bourdon and Josef Pasternack. Often, the recordings were used by retailers to showcase Victor phonographs. Caruso was admired for his rich powerful low tenor voice which allowed him to highlight the best audio fidelity range in the early years of audio technology while sustaining minimal evidence of the technology’s defects.
  • Classical musicians such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Victor Herbert, Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz
  • Orchestral artists such as Arthur Pryor, Walter B. Rogers and Victor Herbert
  • Early orchestral recordings made by the company’s European affiliates - La Scala Orchestra (under Carlo Sabajno) and the New Symphony Orchestra of London (under Landon Ronald).
  • American orchestral recording programs that included the Boston Symphony Orchestra (under the baton of Karl Muck); the Philadelphia Orchestra (conducted by Leopold Stokowski); the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (with Willem Mengelberg); the Louis Symphony Orchestra (with Rudolph Ganz); the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra” (under Alfred Hertz); and the La Scala Orchestra (under the baton of Arturo Toscanini)
  • Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family – Considered as the founders of country music, their songs were initially captured on August 1, 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee which was deemed as a historic recording session of the period.
  • Rudy Wiedoeft, Monroe Silver, John Meyer, Frank Croxton, Albert Campbell, Henry Burr, Frank Banta, and Billy Murray were the eight popular Victor artists who gathered to record A Miniature Concert, the company’s first commercial electrical recording which occurred on February 26, 1925.

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