There can be little doubt that sound recording has been a mixed blessing for serious music. The easy availability of masterpieces, the permanent engraving of transient interpretative conceptions on discs and tapes, the marketing of works of art in their mechanical and electronic copies rather than in the live form in which they were born: all these factors have affected the state of musical art in our time, and taken together, they have gone far to balance out the benefits always envisioned from the diffusion of a high and refined culture.

Yet much as music lovers must blame recordings for the present stultification of contemporary composition, it cannot be denied that these recordings have preserved much in past musical performance of value and beauty. We ail know this is true for the famous figures of the past eight or so decades—the Carusos, the Rachmaninoffs, the Toscaninis, the Schnabels,...


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