The Stage of the
best seat in the house. Forever."
By Doug Boilesen
The revolution of
sound that began with the Phonograph was a social, cultural,
and literal (in rpms) revolution. And it never stopped. We still
have record players and descendent technologies that record
and reproduce sound and deliver entertainment to the home and
have been made by each sound delivering technology that has
followed the original phonograph -- the radio, television, high-fidelity,
stereophonic, 45 and LP phonograph systems, VHS and Beta video
tape systems, reel-to-reel, 8-track and cassette playing systems,
laser discs, CEDs, CDs, DVD and Blu-ray systems, computers,
iPods and all of the many streaming devices. Formats and media
change but each new product still pursues the phonograph's primary
advertising promise -- that their device will deliver music
and entertainment to you as if it's just for you, and it will
be an experience equal to or better than the "best seat
in the house." Anytime. Anywhere. Forever.
It's also true that
there are still qualities of a live performance that cannot
be experienced in the home.
But if you are able
to hear a performance that you would otherwise never experience,
and if the "music is magic" as you close your eyes
and listen, it seems pretty compelling that the 'best seat in
the house" can be yours.
Taking your seat
simply requires the what, when, and how often you want to attend
The following are
examples of how realism and "The Stage of the World"
have been promised in phonograph and descendent technology advertisements
since the beginning of the twentieth century and, as a continuum,
into the twenty-first century.
"It is reality, nothing less;
for "The Stage of the World" presents the artists
themselves to you..." Columbia Grafonola, 1916
"The whole enchanted realm
of grand opera...comes to life through the magic portals of
the Columbia Grafonola," 1917
Up the Graphophone Curtain in Your Home, and the Whole
World of Entertainment Appears!" 1906
Theatre in Your Home," The Talking Machine
World, March 15, 1905
"Il Trovatore", complete, from the opening chorus
to the finale of the last act..." Munsey's, Victor
Talking Machine Co., 1906
Victor The Fireside Theatre
brings to each family exactly the music that it wants; the veritable
voice, the actual performance. And all in the comfort and privacy
the Christmas Matinee" by J.J. Gould, November 1908
The black and white illustration
of Edison's national magazine advertisement "At the Christmas
Matinee" in November 1908 was signed by J. J. Gould. When
the same advertisement appeared in color in December 1908 magazines
there was no longer an artist's signature. One can see the difference
in the details of the colorized version which have been apparently
modified by Edison artists in the colorization process.
When Edison proudly provided information
in his trade magazine about his advertising campaign of 1907
and 1908 he identified the "prominent artists" that
were being featured and noted that the advertisements "are
reproductions from a series of sketches drawn especially for
us by a number of leading artists of the country." (See
The Edison Phonograph
Monthly, December 1907).
This December 1908 illustration
is an example of how "reproducing" an original sketch
could alter the original sketch and result in the removal of
an artist's signature.
the Christmas Matinee" - The Best Seat in the House
- Collier's, December 1908
without a Victor is a stage without a play." 1908
The Edison Phonograph "sings
as sweetly sings as the most cultivated singer and renders perfectly
the tones of the various instruments of orchestras and bands."
The Edison Phonograph Monthly, August 1908
"Home is more comfortable
than an opera house...“… whenever you want, without going a
single step away from home.” 1910
The Edison Phonograph is
the theatre... "The voice of all the people on the
stage - The choice of all the people off the stage. Edison ad,
artwork by Gil Spear 1911
brings the talent of the world's greatest artists into
Phonograph Monthly, January 1912
"This beats putting on your
dress suit and paying $5.00 to sit in a camp chair in a crowded
theatre." February 1914, The Talking Machine World
is Believing" Columbia Phonograph Company, 1911
as real, just as enjoyable, in your own home" 1912
An Edison Phonograph - "A
Minstrel Show in Your Own Home with no end of good, clean, bright
music and songs." St. Nicholas magazine, 1911 *Disclaimer
"right in your
own home the charming selections from the popular operettas now
delighting the public..." St. Nicholas, 1913
Any class of amusement
"From the sublime to the ridiculous" -- Columbia Graphophone
Columbia Records on the Columbia
Grafonola bring the best music of all lands and all ages into
the friendly intimacy of your own home." Ladies' Home
Voice of Music," Columbia Grafonola, 1919
Yours is the privilege of hearing
this group of marvelously gifts artists "from the depths
of your pet arm chair, any evening you choose. March 1919,
The National Geographic
Evening Post, March 13, 1920
bill appearing each night at home, Columbia 1920 Disclaimer
the Victrola you can have a concert by these same great
bands in your home..." 1921
Opera", Tusca Radio, 1923
unusual thing on the radio is the usual thing on the Victrola."
The music which delighted radio
listeners "has been and is available at all times through
the medium of the Victrola and Victor Records."
- Full orchestra on a lanterned lawn - 1926
to sing and play for you...the Victrola is the gift that
keeps on giving." 1927 (PM-2032)
glow springs up along the stage's rim...The curtains part..."
Victor Red Seal Records, 1927
"Almost, you look into the
faces of the musicians themselves, so perfect is the illusion..."
1928 - Edmund Wilson artist
stretch of the imagination, they are right in the very
room with you." 1928 - Edmund Wilson artist
at a Broadway vaudeville show---in your own home!"
1928 - Edmund Wilson artist
utmost possible fidelity and realism..." .RCA Radiola,
of Radio Entertainment available for your home - "Get
your full share..." RCA Radiola, 1931
for your Cue", RCA 1944
- Radio-Phonograph 1945 "true-to-life tone"
your eyes and enjoy the illusion that singers and orchestra
are in the very room with you."
of listening pleasure for you, RCA 1947
Entertainment -- yours free on GE, 1951
with Television, the world is your stage, 1949
Radio - "It brought the entire world to their fingertips"
1949 - The magic of radio and
television bring America's Grandest Entertainment. "Enjoy
FM and AM radio--and records--in natural color tone."
1950 Zenith - Watching
ballet in the afternoon "with startling new life-like clarity
"Command the world's most
celebrated stars to perform for you, privately, in your
own home." GE Television, The Saturday Evening Post,
September 15, 1951
September 20, 1954
1954 Sylvania Television
- "Chairside Theatre"
Best Seat in the
Concert Hall - Right in Your Home! 1956 Admiral
Carnegie Hall - Magavox Stereophonic
High-Fidelity -- "recorded music suddenly comes alive...creating
an exciting illusion of "living presence...with amazing
Phonographs PUT YOU IN THE CENTER OF SOUND, 1958
Magavox Stereo Theatre
in your home, 1962
sound..." Wollensak Stereo Tape Recorder 1963
for Children, General Electric's Show' N Tell, 1965
RCA Victor Stereo
- realism that rivals the concert hall, Time, 1967
Stereo...realism that rivals the concert hall," 1965
Stereo...realism that rivals the concert hall," 1965
Stereo...realism that rivals the concert hall," 1966
"RCA - realism
that rivals the concert hall" 1967
RCA Stereo- Realism
that Rivals the Concert Hall, 1968
Realism that rivals
the concert hall - closer to the music, RCA 1968
Whenever. - Sony Betamax 1978
in sight and sound," Magnavox 1979
1984 Stereo Broadcasts
of San Francisco Opera -- "The effect is amazingly realistic."
1984 Sony Compact
Disc - Sony's "Revolution"
Since the invention
of the phonograph player back in 1877...the basic concept hasn't
changed a bit. Until now."
JBL speakers "Set the
Stage at Home"- The speakers relied on by recording
engineers to mix the music for the first time are available
for your living room.
Sound All The Way Home. JBL - 1986
1992 RCA Home Theatre
- "So lifelike...you'll feel like part of the show."
"...hear something you've
never heard before: perfection." "you listen to your
favorite artists as though you, and your armchair, were centered
in the spotlight above." Courtesy Sony 1983
Day Sale, February 2017
In September 2020
with COVID-19 a continuing reality, The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra's
New Season announced their "seven beautifully crafted concerts
will come to you at home."
camera angles, bonus interviews and insights, and behind the scenes
footage, your own home will be the best seat in the house!
Turn your couch
into a box seat at the ballet
Dim the lights and
nestle into your sofa like it’s a box at the Palais
Garnier to watch ballet and opera clips on the Opéra
National de Paris’ YouTube channel. When you need an
intermission, do as the audiences do and get a glass of Champagne.
Rosenbloom, November 17, 2020 New York Times
Opéra national de
Garnier - Photo
NYT and ©Jean-Pierre Delagarde/OnP
revolution of sound that created
the"The best seat in the house. Forever"©
Friends of the Phonograph by Doug Boilesen and Phonographia