[Organization] The University Museum, the University of Tokyo
[Cooperation] Hideki Umeda + Mac Sugisaki
[Program Conception] Intermediatheque Department, The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT)
A cycle of gramophone concerts is regularly held within the lecture theatre ACADEMIA of the Intermediatheque. This concert series focuses on the Satoshi Yuze record collection, from which we select famous 1920-1940s jazz recordings. We play them on the illustrious E.M.G. Mark IX and other gramophones, in order to share a quality of sound which has now vanished from public spaces.
To prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are streaming the gramophone concert on this page.
A major popular music hit in 1920 was “Margie.” This simple song dedicated to the daughter of comedian and singer Eddie Cantor was composed by composer Con Conrad and pianist J. Russell Robinson, with lyrics by vaudeville singer Benny Davis. In the 1920s, during the formative years of jazz, such a mixture of genres from vaudeville to instrumental jazz was rather common. This hit, which launched the respective careers of its authors, was not only a lasting popular hit, but also became a jazz standard. Here, we will retrace on SP records the history of “Margie” as a jazz song, from its first recordings in 1920 until its revival in 1950.
On the Cycle of Gramophone Concerts
“Gramophone”, “Phonograph”, “Graphophone”, “Zonophone”… After the invention and diffusion of a mechanical system capable of recording and playing back sound, it took several decades before the terminology designating this device took root. It is said that meanwhile, the perplexity of people discovering this enigmatic piece of furniture emitting wonderful sounds was beyond imagination, ranging from curiosity to fear. However, with the generalization of LPs, CDs and digital audio files, gramophones have fallen out of use, and those remaining in museums simply exist as exhibition items. This concert series aims at activating the gramophone again as a playback device, in order to appreciate its possibilities anew.
The University Museum, the University of Tokyo holds various gramophones in its collections. These gramophones will play a wide range of music, and various types of records. Among them, a most precious source of music is the Satoshi Yuze collection, donated to the University Museum in 2012. This private record collection, focusing on jazz music, contains ten thousand SP records. By playing on luxurious gramophones the collection constituted by Satoshi Yuze, which is the work of a lifetime, we will not only introduce rare recordings, but we will also share the quality and deepness of a sound lost with the advent of the digital era. In the age of digital streaming, by getting together within the Intermediatheque lecture theatre and experiencing musical gatherings from another era, we intend to develop the museum space into a site for synaesthesia.