The Early History of Deutsche Grammophon

Deutsche Grammophon pic
Deutsche Grammophon
Image: deutschegrammophon.com

As president of Universal Music Group International’s Classics & Jazz division, Christopher “Chris” Roberts revitalized several of the firm’s labels to make a significant impact on the modern recording industry. In addition to establishing Universal Music businesses for both film soundtracks and Broadway cast albums, Christopher Roberts also helped to reestablish Deutsche Grammophon as one of the world’s leading classical recording labels.

As the oldest operating recording company in the world, Deutsche Grammophon‘s history dates back to the very advent of recording. Founded by brothers Emile and Joseph Berliner in Hanover, Germany in June 1898, the company’s inception marked the launch of the first gramophone and record manufacturing facilities.

Emile Berliner had already garnered a reputation in the United States as the inventor of both the record disk and gramophone player. For over a decade, he and his brother directed the production of shellac records for the London-based Gramophone Company.

While William Barry Owen, an associate of Emile’s, led the operations of the Gramophone Company, their American business partner Fred Gaisberg oversaw the acquisition of new recording artists that would attract wide audiences.

In 1902, Deutsche Grammophon began producing the first records of established artists, including Enrico Caruso, Alessandro Moreschi, Elena Gerhardt, and Mary Garden.

At the same time, Deutsche Grammophon helped to launch the careers of artists such as Feodor Chaliapin. The company had the honor of signing Nellie Melba in 1904, and recorded the work of Adelina Patti just a year later.

By 1907, Deutsche Grammaphon had earned recognition from the royal households of both Great Britain and Spain, and its 200-machine manufacturing center had begun to press the world’s first two-sided records.

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