The National Library of Latvia recently launched a new digital audio collection – Latvia’s historical sound recordings.
The library holds several hundred shellac records, published in the first half of the 20th century by companies such as “Bellaccord Electro”, “His Master’s Voice” and Riga Record Factory “Līgo”.
The musical content is varied – including folk songs, popular music and choir songs, first performances of Latvian classical music and other compositions. Among the performers are many well-known names in Latvia such as Reiters Latvian Choir, Laivinieki brothers, Mariss Vetra, Elfrida Pakule, as well as other lesser-known artists today. One of the collection’s rarities is Latvian Prime Minister K. Ulmanis’ speech at the Riga Radiophone shortly after the coup in 1934.
In cooperation with private collectors, museums and other memory institutions that hold historical and valuable sound recordings, this collection aims to reflect Latvia’s sound recording history, especially the first half of the 20th century.
At present, the digital collection contains close to 300 sound objects. New recordings will be added regularly; it is estimated that by the end of 2014 the collection will include 2 000 objects. Most of the recordings are available online globally, except for an estimated 20% of the collection that is still under copyright and accessible to patrons on library premises.
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