Mastodon Free Download: Preludes to "Die Meistersinger" & "Parsifal" Fritz Reiner 1938 - The Wagnerian

Free Download: Preludes to "Die Meistersinger" & "Parsifal" Fritz Reiner 1938

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 29 December 2011 | 2:00:00 pm

Found over at the wonderful, and voluntary, Transfered from the Victor 78s. Free and in the public domain (well you wouldn't expect  us to pay for anything)

Die Meistersinger - Prelude
Parsifal - Prelude
Fritz Reiner, conductor

78rpm discs mx. CS 028843 - CS 028848 (SR-11, SR-12, SR-13)
Recorded in Carnegie Hall, New York, November 22, 1938
Digital transfer by F. Reeder

Creative Commons license: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0

To download Click the link: (hosted at

01 WAGNER_ Die Meistersinger - Prelude 5.9 MB

02 WAGNER_ Parsifal - Prelude 8.7 MB  

Edit: We found this fascinating article on the SR series (of which these recordings are the transfers of 3) at Minspring Press which includes an image of the first Parsifal 78.

Unmasking the
(First "SR-" Series)

The "World's Greatest..." records have both tantalized and frustrated collectors for decades. While the outward appearance of these ubiquitous 78s suggests a tawdry discount-store product, the performances and recording quality suggest otherwise. Identities of the anonymous performers have been a popular guessing game nearly from the day the records were announced in 1938. In fact, details of the earliest releases can be found in the files of the producer—none other than RCA-Victor—in the Sony/BMG Archive (New York).

The SR- series' original 1938 label design (left). and a late 1940s reissue on
the Philharmonic Transcription label.
(Mainspring Press collection)

The venture was hatched as a scheme to boost newspaper circulation by the Publishers Service Company, which contracted the production work to RCA-Victor. To keep costs low, RCA held rehearsals and remakes to a minimum and insisted on anonymity for their artists.

The first sets were announced in a nationwide newspaper campaign in the Autumn of 1938. Excellently recorded and pressed, these inexpensive sets were so successful that in 1940 a "World's Greatest Opera" series was added, which included uncredited performances by the likes of Eleanor Steber, Leonard Warren, and Rose Bampton. According to a New York Times report, only union musicians were used, and all agreed to waive their royalties.

In 1939, the National Committee for Music Appreciation took over distribution of the records, and the story begins to take some odd turns. NCMA at first offered the records only to schools, libaries, and members of local music appreciation societies. The non-profit organization took great pains to emphasize that the records would not be sold through normal retails stores, and pledged that profits would be donated to the Metropolitan Opera Guilds.

By late 1940, however, RCA was no longer supplying new recordings, and the New York Committee for Music Appreciation—an apparent affiliate or offshoot of the NCMA—took over the series. NYCMA began offering a new series of albums to the public, from an unknown source, using X-prefixed catalog numbers in place of RCA's SR-prefixed numbers. While the sets were still not available in retail stores, the general public could now order them by mail or buy them at twelve New York "distribution stations" for a mere $1.39 per set. The distribution stations, as it turned out, were managed by the Davega Company, the owner of a chain of New York department stores.

To further muddy the waters, Davega soon began marketing similar material on its own Music Lover's Chest of Records label, supplied by maverick producer Eli Oberstein. They were sold by mail order and in Davega stores for as little as 39¢ each in sets of four. Oberstein used material primarily from European sources, much of which had already appeared on his cheap Royale label. In its advertising for the new records, Davega invoked BCMA's name, but stopped just short of claiming that the organization had anything to do with them. Unlike the earlier RCA series, these were cheaply produced recordings of suspect lineage. As with so many Oberstein masters, they were passed around liberally through the 1940s and early 1950s....

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