Tony Schwartz round up

Tony Schwartz portrait from the 1950sTony Schwartz presentation from the SoundViews cassetteA Tony Schwartz limited edition, unofficial LPFront cover of the 'New York 19' LP

  1. Music In Marble Halls (6:08)
    [from You’re Stepping On My Shadow LP, 1962]
  2. Sounds Outside My House (5:45)
    [from Sounds of My City LP, 1956]
  3. Columbus Day Parade (5:08)
    [from The Library of Congress archives, 1963]
  4. The Small Recorder (3:13)
    [from The Library of Congress archives]
  5. Moondog (Fog on the Hudson) (1:20)
    [from New York 19 LP, 1954]
  6. Nancy Grows Up (2:16)
    [from Tony Schwartz Records the Sounds of Children LP, 1970]
  7. Factory Whistle Carols (1:35)
    [from Milions Of Musicians, 1954, incl. in the SoundViews cassette]
  8. Sounds from New York (15:08)
    [from The Library of Congress archives]
  9. Sound Picture of New York (4:31)
    [from The Library of Congress archives, 1956]
  10. Children’s Ring Game (4:30)
    [from Nueva York LP, 1955]
  11. Nancy’s Voice (6:35)
    [from the Adventures In Sound show, 1970]
  12. How We Remember (5:09)
    [from The Library of Congress archives]
  13. Favorite Sounds (4:22)
    [from The Library of Congress archives]
  14. Major in Germany (2:40)
    [from The Library of Congress archives, 1958]

Total time 68:00
Source: Library of Congress, WFMU, WNYC, Gibble Gabble

In 1952, Tony Schwartz (born in Manhattan, 1923-died 2008) was recording New York children and untrained street musicians when, just down the place where he lived on 57th Street, he fell on a blind musician he recorded playing his unique percussion instrument on a background of street noises (see tr.#5 above). This was the first time someone would record Moondog. Schwartz was collecting everyday sounds from his neighbourhood since 1945 and producing a weekly program on WNYC called Around New York (1945-1976). First he had used a Webster WEBCOR wire recorder from 1945 to 1947, when he was finally able to get a battery-operated Magnemite tape recorder, allowing to record anything on the way to work or back from a late diner. Back at his home-studio he would select the best excerpts from the day’s harvest, label them and store them for future re-use, building one of the largest sound library in the US (incidentally, French composer Pierre Henry uses exactly the same technique).

He started releasing records as early as 1953 for the Mars company, but soon found a home on Folkways Records, whose founder Moses ‘Moe’ Ash would be bold enough to put out his crazy ‘ambient sounds’ records. His first Folkways LP was ‘1,2,3 and a Zing, Zing, Zing’, released in 1953 and including sounds recorded the previous year near his West Midtown area. Tony Schwartz said he suffered from agoraphobia, that’s why he never wandered far from his base, which is all the more remarkable considering the variety of sounds his records are made of. From his West 57th Street apartment, he recorded Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte or Yma Sumac, as well as many politicians and famous people. In the early 1960s, Schwartz co-founded the Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising company (DDB) with which he did commercials for national advertisers like Coke, McDonald’s, etc, as well as politicians.

The 14 tracks above were collected on the web in various formats, their sound quality varying from mediocre hi-fi to acceptable lo-fi – once you realise the importance of Tony Schwartz, you disregard eventual sound flaws. Most are mono recordings, either from LPs or broadcast archives. All Schwartz trademarks are included (except taxi drivers): children, immigrants, men-at-work, Jewish communities, animals, street peddlers, elders, blind people (Schwartz suffered temporary blindness for 6 months in his young age). More often than not in his sound work, Schwartz is working as an advertiser, trying to sell us the prettiest neighbourhood in the greatest city in the world. If truth be told, his sound collages are sometimes mere aural postcards from an imaginary city where men work hard, children play endlessly, women stay at home, colored people bring out their sooo-charming music. But this shall not detract us from the tape splicing genius Tony Schwartz was, as important as Pierre Schaeffer (who never used tapes) or Orson Welles and John Houseman’s Mercury Theater, and a pioneer paving the way for Arsenije Jovanović or Willem de Ridder.

Download. (Link removed. Complaint received)

. . . . . . . . . . .

Tony Schwartz discography (tbc):
On Mars label:
1953 – Moondog In The Streets Of New-York

On Folkways:
1953 – 1, 2, 3 and a Zing Zing Zing
1954 – French Folk Songs – Henriette and Emile Zmirou
1954 – Millions of Musicians
1954 – New York 19
1955 – Nueva York: A Tape Documentary of Puerto Rican New Yorkers
1955 – Exchange, Friendship Around the World Thru Tape Exchange
1956 – Sounds of My City
1957 – Music in the Streets
1958 – An Actual Story in Sound of a Dog’s Life
1958 – Sound Effects, Vol. 1: City Sounds
1958 – The World in My Mail Box
1962 – You’re Stepping on My Shadow
1962 – American History in Ballad and Song, Vol.2
1970 – The Sounds of Children

On Columbia:
date? – The New York Taxi Driver (late 1960s)
date? – That’s My Opinion and it’s Very True


7 Responses to “Tony Schwartz round up”

  1. 2 doroskedeho March 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    mm. sounds amazing
    Tony Schwartz’ work is interesting with Aspect in Environmental Soundscape Research.

    love your blog.

  2. 3 adela April 1, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    ups…link is dead, anybody has alive one?

  3. 4 vaubu April 2, 2009 at 2:58 am

    I’m grateful to see the round-up. Tony Schwartz was undeniable and it was bizarre to see that his death went by so quietly. I can understand the protest of having his material downloadable though as much of it is still available and at a very reasonable price.

  4. 5 acousmata September 27, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Sorry you had to remove this one. Be not discouraged!

    A modest correction, regarding your statement about Pierre Schaeffer and tape: Schaeffer did in fact begin working with tape in 1951, though his earlier experiments had used records exclusively.

  5. 6 eneateaeleí April 14, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    It’s such a pity the sharing of this record had to be cancelled. Where I live it is quite (for not saying ‘absolutely’) impossible to run into this record anywhere. I became very excited by reading the review and now I cannot listen to it :(
    Apart from this, the blog is great, thank you very much for taking the time to share these materials :)

  6. 7 continuo April 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Note the ‘Sound of Children‘ LP is still available.

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