A comprehensive history of the early history of Latvian sound recordings has been released. Entitled Latviešu skaņuplašu vēsture (ISBN 978-9934-511-19-6, SIA Vesta-LK, 367 pages), the book was written by historian and collector Atis Gunivaldis Bērtiņš, and presents a thorough and detailed review of Latvian recordings in the pre-World War II era.
Besides providing a near complete discography of all recordings with Latvian artists (including records produced both in Latvian and internationally), the book also provides biographical notes on many of the artists that appear on these records, such as the ‘Latgalian Nightingale’ Helēna Ersa-Kozlovska , humorist Jānis Āre, and the conductor of the Bellacord Electro orchestra Teodors Vējš, among many others.
Besides Bellacord Electro (the major Latvian record label prior to World War II and producer of thousands of records from their factory in Riga), the book mentions many less well known labels such as Lyracord, Zonophone, and Tri-Ergon.
The book provides many historical anecdotes about the artists – for example, how in 1940, 11 of the records by the vocal comedic duo Brāļi Laivinieki were deemed ‘vulgar and of little artistic value’ by the Press division of the Latvian Social Ministry, and were to be taken out of circulation. However, the announcement had little effect, as these offending records were nowhere to be found.
The book is meant as the first volume in a multi-volume series, with the next volume to be about Latvian recordings after World War II.
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