Composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) happened to be one of the earliest voices captured, in 1888, by Thomas Edison’s then-new wax-cylinder recording machine. Invited to dinner at Edison’s London outpost, Little Menlo, Sullivan recorded this small but prescient speech (which you can hear thanks to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park):

. . . For myself, I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the results of this evening’s experiment — astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever.

[Thanks to wonderful pianist Seda Röder for the tip. The complete Edison archive can be found here.]

2 Responses to “Seeing what was coming right from the start”
  1. J says:

    Sullivan was apparently way ahead of his time. Very funny.

  2. Dave Gerhart says:

    Thanks for posting this. I wonder if this is everything? I would really love to check out the xylophone ragtime recordings of George Hamilton Green.

    Thanks again – Great blog!
    DG

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