Snippets 204. The following quote is from the May 1904 issue of Talking Machine News:
Edward Lloyd, the famous tenor, though he retired from the concert platform in December, 1900, not through failure of voice, or through ill health, but because, as we suppose, he thought he was entitled to rest, has made some records for the Gramophone Company. It happened one day that, quite by accident, he heard the gramophone reproduce the voice of a well-known singer, and was so charmed with the result that he immediately expressed himself desirous of hearing his own voice. Upon hearing his own records he wrote: “I had no idea the gramophone was such a scientific and musical instrument, nor that such strides had been made in the science of voice reproduction. I had hitherto refused to have a record made of my voice, believing the result would be inartistic. I am, however, absolutely satisfied ith the records, and am content that future generations shall judge my voice by the gramophone.”
Edward Lloyd was born in 1845, so must surely be a strong contender for the earliest born famous singer to have his voice captured on a gramophone recording. He was recognised as the foremost English tenor of the late 19th Century, and had retired in 1900. As the article above describes, he came out of retirement in 1904 to make the following recordings:
I’ll sing thee songs of Araby (Clay).
Tom Bowling (Dibdin).
The Holy City (Adams).
The Death of Nelson (Braham).
Alice, where art thou? (Asher).
Let me like a soldier fall, Maritana (Wallace).
When all the world is fair (Cowen).
The sea hath its pearls (Cowen).
When other lips, Bohemian Girl (Balfe).
If with all your hearts, Elijah (Mendelssohn).
Lend me your aid, Reine de Saba (Gounod).
The maid of the mill (Clay).
I’m not sure if any of these still survive from 1904, but Lloyd did go on to make further recordings for the Gramophone Company (later HMV) between 1905 and 1911. Recordings can be found on youtube from as early as 1905, but I can find nothing from the original 1904 records. In 1907, Lloyd was chosen to cut the first sod ceremonially for the new Gramophone Company factory site. He came out of retirement to sing at the coronation of George V in 1911. Edward Lloyd died in 1927.
Although he is a strong contender for the earliest born tenor captured on a gramophone recording (and I cannot answer that question one way or the other), Lloyd is certainly not the earliest born musical performer, famous or otherwise. For example, there is a surviving recording of a Brahms performance from 1889. Brahms was born in 1833.
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