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Recorded Sound Section--Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division



Music Recordings
Early Recording Stars
Miscellaneous Music Collections
arrow graphicOpera and Classical Music
Library of Congress Concerts
Drama and Literature Recordings
The Spoken Word




Opera and Classical Music
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Geraldine Farrar listening to herself on the Victrola, and as Madame Butterfly. Advertisement for Victor Talking Machine Co., Camden, N.J., from the Red Book Magazine. Chicago: Red Book Corp., March 1914. AP2.R28. Graphics File, Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZ62-108223.

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Opera and classical music have been popular from the very beginning of sound recording. The division has an outstanding collection of opera performances from the acoustic recording era featuring many of the top women opera singers of the day. The John Secrist Collection comprises hundreds of commercial operatic music releases from 1902 to 1925, including many rareties. Private collections belonging to opera divas Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967) [picture], Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981), Alma Gluck (1884-1938) [picture], and Helen Traubel (1899-1972) have significantly enhanced the division's opera holdings. The Robert Orchard Collection of live opera recordings includes recordings of otherwise unavailable operas such as Mary E. Caldwell's (b. 1909) children's operas A Gift of Song and Night of the Star (both on RXB 9962).

Violinist Maud Powell (1867-1920) [picture], dubbed a “Victor immortal,” was chosen by the record company in 1904 to be the first solo instrumentalist to record for its newly inaugurated celebrity artist series. The division has every 78-rpm recording made by this influential artist, a gift of the Maud Powell Foundation.

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