Those were the opening sentences of the producer’s note of Volume Eight. Would that we had not promised so much, and so soon! The “additional material” consisted of four Hofmann cylinders recorded in 1895 and 1896, which we finally were able to issue in the set The Dawn of Recording - The Julius Block Cylinders at the end of last year. But eight and a half minutes of cylinders are hardly enough for an additional Hofmann volume, and our hopes to unearth new Hofmann material have proven to be optimistic. That final volume will appear, and will comprise two discs, one a DVD video disc with the Bell Telephone sound film of Hofmann, as well as some precious silent home movie footage and other video material. The other disc, a CD of sound recordings, will contain the cylinders as well as excerpts of reminiscences of Hofmann by Rudolph Ganz, Abram Chasins and others, recorded in interviews over decades by Gregor Benko. For the time being we are holding back from issuing this last volume, however, in a fervent hope that we can discover other musical recordings of Hofmann to include.
We are certain there are Hofmann recordings remaining to be discovered; the “holy grail” is the complete recital he played on July 10, 1936 in Buenos Aires. It was recorded by the local radio station and broadcast the next day from acetate discs. The program included: Bach-D’Albert Prelude and Fugue in D major, Beethoven Sonata Op. 110, Chopin Sonata Op. 35, Liszt 12th Hungarian Rhapsody and eight encores. The reviews were ecstatic. Those acetates disappeared in the 1970s and are probably now in private hands; attempts, all unsuccessful, have been made to locate them. Other material from the same source has emerged, but all operatic.
Hofmann also performed concertos that were broadcast in the age of acetate recording, and we fervently hope to locate a complete Schumann concerto, the one concerto from his repertoire at the time that has not yet turned up from an aircheck. One broadcast that should and must be around somewhere is the January 24, 1937 Ford Sunday Evening Hour with orchestra conducted by Victor Kolar, containing the Larghetto from the Chopin F minor concerto, as well as Liszt’s 12th Hungarian Rhapsody and a Valse. And lastly, we have the Chopin group from his penultimate Carnegie Hall recital of March 24, 1945. The entire concert was recorded by Armed Forces radio and broadcast to Europe from discs. The rest of the recital that we do not yet have consisted of Handel’s Harmonious Blacksmith, a Mendelssohn Scherzo, the Moonlight sonata, and Schumann’s Fascingswank aus Wien.
Additionally, we are also hoping that someone can help us locate the descendants of two violinists who studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, Kurt Polnarioff and his sister Rosa Polnarioff Kupper. Kurt took silent 16-millimeter home films at the Curtis Institute Christmas party in December 1932, which included footage of Hofmann playing the Theremin! Kurt later played in the Pittsburgh Symphony, wrote a column for Downbeat magazine, and had a career as a jazz artist under the name Paul Nero. He died at the age of 41 in 1958. Perhaps these films have survived, and if so, we would be eager to locate them.
We will continue our search for several more months, but at a certain point, if we have no success, we will go ahead with Volume Nine without them. We are willing to reward finders of any of these recordings and metrials handsomely.