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Author Topic: Musical Heritage society  (Read 8060 times)

Offline ironbut

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Musical Heritage society
« on: December 03, 2011, 08:29:57 PM »
Any of the Barclay-Crocker collectors will certainly be familiar with this label (MHS).
I'd known about it prior to my BC scrounging but I didn't really know much about the company.
I've been following a thread on the ARSC list about record clubs and the Musical Heritage Society came up.
Luckily, one Joe Szurly offered some first hand info about the label.
Here's a quote from him with some interesting info and a great American story;

Musical Heritage Society is alive and well and still exists. It has hung on
these past years, despite the continued shrinkage of the overall music
industry, offering their club members classical and jazz titles. MHS was
recently sold to the British outfit Passionato, who came into the music
business just recently offering classical digital downloads, and they now
own and manage MHS. Yes the membership is not what it once was, but
there still is an active clientele in both the US & Canada that happily get
their music fix from MHS.

MHS also owned their own active recording label - released on Music Masters
as well as the Musical Heritage Society, with possibly as many as 1000
albums (both classical & jazz) recorded or licensed and released in their
history between the late 1950s until the mid 1990s. (Pachelbel's Canon with
JF Pailliard was one of their biggest hits).  Many were world premiere
recordings as well as the music of many contemporary composers and
performers (similar to the label CRI).  Established artists like Benny
Goodman, Vladimir Feltsman, Eliot Fisk, Robert Mann and the Naumburg Award
Winners (to name a few) were all recorded extensively by Music Masters.
Most of these recordings were only available to MHS members, though some
were offered for CD distribution back in the early 1990s by BMG so they
were found at traditional retail (ie CD boom!). The label btw was not sold
to Passionato and is not part of that deal. It is a private independent
label. I am currently collating and sorting through this entire catalog and
offering it for sale to consumers on Arkiv and Amazon and other places -
slowly but surely we hope to have most (if not all) of this catalog
available on CD - both as its original release, in collections or

Also as I understand this - Here is an interesting story I was told about
the beginnings of MHS. (I HOPE IT'S TRUE!)
MHS was started by an ex-GI.
This ex-GI (name unknown to me) was a member of Patton's Third Army. As
they rolled across southern Germany, toward their objective (Berlin), there
was this soldier who had a passion for classical music and collecting
records. Each small town he visited during his tour of duty, when he could
he'd try to find a local record shop (if it wasn't bombed out). He'd
actually shop, make selections and have the items shipped back to to his
home stateside in NJ. When he finally got home his friends would all marvel
at his collection and ask if they could get copies. Keeping in touch with
the shopkeepers overseas, he collected up orders and sent for more records.
This lead to more and more inquiries and before you can say
"Schleiswig-Holstein", MHS was born. Growing into a business, MHS also sold
other things along with offering classical music including greeting cards
and wrapping paper. One of the greeting card vendors that called on
MHS became good friends with the original owner. When the original owner
wanted to retire or just get out of the business, he ended jup selling MHS
to this guy. That person grew the business and eventually passed it on to
his sons, who recently sold it to Passionato this year (2011).

steve koto
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Offline Listens2tubes

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Re: Musical Heritage society
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2011, 09:28:05 PM »
Really interesting to find out how the Musical Heritage Society got it's start. Imagine tracking through Germany during wartime, buying up all the music you find and having them arrive safely home in NJ. Great stuff!
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Offline docb

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Re: Musical Heritage society
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2011, 09:50:25 PM »
Interesting. My best friend in high school played classical trumpet and his mom had been a music teacher. She would often buy him LPs from the MHS to give him examples of a piece he was trying to learn, because they were the only company that would have a representative selection of the piece. Tough way to survive, putting out the obscure music that no one else wants to. Gotta respect that they have hung in for so many years.
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Managing Director - retired, The Tape Project

Offline steveidosound

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Re: Musical Heritage society
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2011, 02:38:53 AM »
Really interesting to find out how the Musical Heritage Society got it's start. Imagine tracking through Germany during wartime, buying up all the music you find and having them arrive safely home in NJ. Great stuff!

And we would have been talking shellac 78s via boat in that era - at least initially ! Wonder what percentage arrived intact?
Steve Williams

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