Everest Records

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Everest Records was a stereophonic record label based in Bayside, Long Island, started by Harry D. Belock and Bert Whyte in May 1958. It was devoted mainly to classical music.

History[edit]

The idea for starting a label was related by electronics inventor Harry Belock (who also worked on sound films in Hollywood in the 1930s) to Roland Gelatt in the February 1959 issue of High Fidelity: "The more of them I heard, the more I felt that nobody had a good stereo library. So I decided to get into the business myself." The plan was to record repertory that was new to stereo. Belock was very ambitious, and told High Fidelity that "We're out to surpass Capitol. We're not shooting marbles." Belock Instrument Corporation, a manufacturer of precision equipment (particularly missile electronics) was the parent of the Everest label 1958-1960 (operated as the Belock Recording Company). Everest would issue its recordings on monaural LP (LPBR 6000 series), stereo LP (SDBR 3000 series), and tape.

Everest also developed a popular and jazz division that issued albums in the LPBR 5000 series (mono) and SDBR 1000 series that, for several years, had composer/conductor Raymond Scott of TV's "Your Hit Parade" fame as head and chief A&R man. It was natural for Scott and two of his Hit Parade regulars (then wife) Dorothy Collins and Gisele MacKenzie to wax discs for the label. MacKenzie was featured on a popular live recording done during her night club engagement at The Empire Room of The Waldorf-Astoria, while Collins was featured on an ambitious collection of holiday tunes with the Joe Lily Singers and Nathan VanCleve's orchestra (both alumnae from the Bing Crosby film classic "White Christmas") titled "Won't You Spend Christmas with Me?" Scott released several instrumental albums for the label, and teamed with Dorothy Collins for a joint effort, "Singin' and Swingin'", which was never released, although initial promotional efforts were made via television appearances by MS Collins. Other pop and jazz artists on the label included Nelson Eddy, Randy Van Horne Singers, Gloria Lynne, Woody Herman, Charley Barnett, Ann Blythe, Russ Morgan, etc. The label also entered the singles market with some non-LP 45 rpm releases by their contracted pop and jazz performers.

Bert Whyte was the producer and engineer. Ruth, his wife, was the assistant engineer. Belock and Whyte decided to record music on 35 mm magnetic film, which they believed was an improvement over half-inch tape. Westrex built this equipment to their specifications, at a cost then of about $20,000 for each recorder. Neumann U 47 microphones were purchased to go with the film recorders. Everest’s recording philosophy was to make minimally-miked three-channel recordings using the same 35 mm film recorders everywhere. In May 1959, Edward Wallerstein (formerly president of Columbia Records) was appointed as a vice president of the company.

Bert Whyte looked for performers in a market loaded with exclusive contract artists. Everest engaged the services of several major conductors, including Adrian Boult, Josef Krips, Eugène Aynsley Goossens, Malcolm Sargent, William Steinberg, Walter Susskind and Leopold Stokowski.

Stokowski signed a contract to record with Everest on September 26, 1958. Among the first Everest recordings were a group with Stokowski conducting the "Stadium Symphony Orchestra of New York" (a pseudonym for members of the New York Philharmonic) in Manhattan Center. (The New York Philharmonic formerly gave summer concerts in Lewisohn Stadium.) Stokowski made a total of eleven LPs with Everest between 1958-59. Six were recorded with the Stadium Symphony and five with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Stokowski believed that the recording philosophy of Everest was inimical to music making, and more in line with mathematics and engineering. None of the records he made with the company seemed to satisfy him. However, many are still considered exceptional as recordings. Stokowski discovered bootleg recordings of his Everest records being issued on the Tiara label. These included both his name and the name of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He wrote Bernard Solomon at Everest to ask how this could be possible.

In England, Everest recorded the London Philharmonic Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra at Walthamstow Assembly Hall. The world premiere recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 9 in E minor was made by Everest at Walthamstow on the morning of the composer's death, August 26, 1958. The composer planned to attend the Everest sessions just as he had attended the earlier Decca sessions for the first eight symphonies. As before, Adrian Boult conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra, but this time he began by recording a tribute to the composer.

Everest also recorded several composers conducting their own work, including Malcolm Arnold, Carlos Chavez, Aaron Copland, Morton Gould, Ferde Grofé, and Heitor Villa-Lobos. In addition, one LP featured historic Melodiya recordings of Sergei Prokofiev and Aram Khachaturian conducting their violin concertos, each with David Oistrakh as soloist. In the Everest Archive of Piano Music, the company made stereo recordings on a 1929 Steinway piano of Percy Grainger playing his own music on the Aeolian Company's Duo-Art piano reproduction mechanism.

Sadly, one composer/performer, Ernő Dohnányi (Ernst von Dohnanyi), died in 1960 while recording piano compositions for Everest. Dohnányi made few recordings, not caring much for the process. He was attempting to complete a huge recording assignment in January 1960 when he fell ill at a session. His condition deteriorated quickly and in a matter of hours he was seized with a heart attack. Believing rightly that this was his last opportunity to record, Dohnányi continued the session, and two days later he died. Everest issued a memorial album to the composer, on SDBR 3061.

Everest prospered for only a few years. It may have been hurt financially by Whyte's recording the complete Pablo Casals Festival in 1960. By this time, Harry Belock owned only 22% of the business and the board removed him from control. Belock (who died in 1999) left the record business and sold his interest in Everest to his accountant, Bernard Solomon, in 1960. The studio and all its recording equipment was sold to engineer C. Robert Fine, who used the equipment for Mercury Records, Command Classics and other recordings. The studio operated for a few more years as Fine Recording Bayside but was closed in the mid-1960s. The 35 mm equipment was absorbed into Fine Recording's main facility in Manhattan. One of the original machines was used by Wilma Cozart Fine to remaster Mercury 35 mm recordings for CD in the 1990s. When Everest was being sold off, the popular recordings were purchased by Liberty Records, who issued some of them on their budget Sunset label, titles by Gisele MacKenzie, Randy Van Horne Singers, Nelson Eddy and Raymond Scott. Much of the pop and jazz masters remained in the Liberty vault, until the label was purchased by EMI. It is assumed the masters now reside somewhere in the EMI vault.

A number of Everest recordings were also issued by the World Record Club, both on LP and on tape. These were mono at 334 ips. but very high quality.

Collectors have determined that the only Everest LPs worth having are those that were recorded and pressed while Belock was at the company.[citation needed] Identifying these records is relatively easy: the first issues sport a silver/turquoise label (with the earliest of these having a wood dowel on the outside edge of the inner sleeve). The silver paper used on these covers usually becomes brittle and deteriorates with age. The second label is a purple mountain. The entire classical catalog of Belock Everests is relatively small, fewer than 100 LPs.

Reissues[edit]

The Everest masters were located in a California vault in 1993 by Seymour Solomon, president of Omega Records and founder of Vanguard Classics. In recent years, some of Everest's audiophile recordings of the Belock/Whyte era have been reissued on compact disc by Collectables Records, DCC Compact Classics, Omega, and Vanguard Classics and on CD, DVD-Audio and LP by Classic Records. [1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • "Belock Appoints Head of Recording Division", New York Times, May 23, 1959, page 36
  • Gelatt, Roland, "Music Makers" High Fidelity, November 1958, page 53 and February 1959, page 47
  • Harry D. Belock on imdb [2]
  • Kiszely, Deborah "An Analysis of Ernő Dohnányi's Ruralia hungarica" in Studia Musicologica: Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 1995, page 79.
  • Robinson, Paul. Stokowski. New York: Vanguard Press, 1977
  • "Stereo Concern Organized", New York Times, May 8, 1958, page 49
  • Verna, Paul. "Everest Masters Restored from 35mm via SBM System", Billboard, October 8, 1994, page 90.
  • "The Journal of The Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers," August, 1965, Vol. 74.