Découverte du plus vieil enregistrement audio de Noël (1904)

Le Museum of London vient de mettre en ligne l’enregistrement audio de Noël le plus vieux jamais découvert. Il est daté du Noël 1904 et fut enregistré sur des cylindres de cire, une pièce unique et extrêmement rare qui fut restaurée par les soins du musée londonien.

Listen to the ghosts of Christmas past: World’s oldest home audio recordings made on Christmas Day more than a century ago discovered in a grandfather’s attic.

The 24 recordings capture family enjoying Christmas in north London
In a recording from 1902, whole family sings We Wish You a Merry Christmas
David Brown donated the wax audio cylinders to the Museum of London

The world’s oldest home audio recordings to be made on Christmas Day more than a century ago have been discovered by a grandfather — in his attic.

David Brown, 71, was given a phonograph and wax cylinders containing audio recordings by his mum when she died, but had no idea what was on them, as the recording machine was broken.

He stashed the recordings in his loft and only re-discovered them later during a clear-out. He donated them to the Museum of London four years ago, where experts made the remarkable discovery.
The extremely rare collection of recordings captures Mr Brown’s middle-class family enjoying Christmas in north London in the early 1900s, with clear audio of speeches and songs.

One recording from Christmas Day 1902 captures the whole Victorian family singing Angels from the Realms of Glory and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
The 24 two-minute recordings have been studied by experts at the Museum of London, and are believed to include the earliest surviving audio of Christmas time in the world.

‘It is absolutely incredible to hear the voices of my ancestors from over one hundred years ago,’ said Mr Brown, from Hail Weston, Cambridgeshire.
‘We were given a CD of a recording from 1902 where you can hear the family enjoying Christmas and particularly my uncle Lesley singing The Minstrel Boy, which became very popular during World War One.

‘There was lots of chatting and singing at this particular Christmas party, and everybody spoke very well.

‘You can hear them making speeches and singing hymns. They were a very church-based family.’

Mr Brown is the son of Muriel Brown, the second youngest of the Wall children. Her family made the recordings at Christmas and New Year gatherings between 1902 and 1914.
Experts have now finally managed to transfer the recordings into digital format.

‘Music, chatter and laughter can be heard on these wonderful recordings, which are bursting with vibrancy and life,’ said Julia Hoffbrand, curator of social and working history at the Museum of London.

‘It is extremely unusual for wax phonograph cylinders, containing retrievable recordings of this age, to survive — which is what makes this discovery so exciting.

‘Another feature that makes these domestic recordings special is the fact that phonographs were created for use in offices as dictating machines and cylinders would usually be wiped and reused.

‘Wax cylinders were very fragile, so those used for home recording were rarely kept, as they were easily damaged.

‘On hearing some of the musical recordings, classical music experts have commented that the sound quality is outstanding — superior to many musical recordings made for sale at the time.’

The Wall family, including Mr Brown’s grandparents and great-grandparents, lived in Southgate, North London.

Mr Brown’s grandfather, Cromwell Wall, was responsible for making the recordings of his family, who were extremely musical and very active in the church.
The recordings include Cromwell’s sister Ellis Wall playing a piano solo at home, and the Wall and Baker families addressing the phonograph with their Christmas greetings amid cheers and laughter.

Aside from recording at home, Cromwell Wall also wheeled the phonograph along the street in his children’s pram in order to record the sound of Old Southgate Church bells peeling in the New Year of 1904.

The family included Cromwell’s wife and nine children, plus his father William Wall, who came to London from Somerset to make his fortune — he co-founded the major engineering firm Biggs, Wall & Co.

Via et BBC

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