Theory: Accompanist on 1890 cylinders is Anton Rubinstein.

Interesting theory I came across:

"A discussion follows of these recordings, that would have been made when Rubinstein was about sixty years old, two years before he had accepted Josef Hofmann as his only private pupil, the two meeting for 42 sessions in Dresden’s Hotel d’Europe. If you know of Hofmann’s often-astonishing recordings, consider Hofmann’s comments about Anton Rubinstein to his pupil, Abram Chasins:

… ”I’m very sorry for you that you never heard my master. Why… I’m a child – all of us put together are infants – compared to his titanic force.”

I noticed this mention in Marston Record’s November, 2016 Newsletter that caught my attention:

A Rubinstein Revelation

Eight years ago Marston Records released a three-CD set called The Dawn of Recording, which features early wax cylinder recordings of classical music many of which were made in the 1890s before the advent of commercial recording… These cylinders were recorded by a man named Julius Block whose story is fascinating. Marston Records… feels that this release is perhaps their most significant contribution to the field of historic recording…

It is clear from Block’s diary that he had tried on several occasions to persuade Anton Rubinstein to make a cylinder, but the great pianist had firmly refused. This year Marston Records has received several letters from German pianist and composer, Istvan Horvath-Thomas, who firmly believes that we are hearing Anton Rubinstein accompanying the tenor, Vasily Samus, on CD 3, tracks 7 and 8.

Our impression when we first heard these two cylinders was that the accompanist was obviously a pianist of the highest order. The way he carries the singer with him is breath-taking. Istvan Horvath-Thomas has taken great pains to decipher the ten-second announcement on track 8 that precedes Samus’s singing of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade don Juan. He feels that he distinctly hears, …“nade…Don Juan…Block…es spielt der Titan”. In Block’s journal, he describes Anton Rubinstein as a “titan”, page 56 of the CD booklet.

Track seven, also sung by Samus, is the song “Longing” by Rubinstein, and it seems quite clear that it is the same pianist on this recording. Mr. Horvath-Thomas observes that the pianist handles the music freely, virtually improvising the accompaniment. In fact, he plays an introduction that is not in the printed music, and improvises again at the end of the cylinder. We can never know for certain whether this is Rubinstein, but given this evidence added to what we hear in the playing, we think it is distinctly possible that Mr. Horvath-Thomas is correct.

Heed this brilliant advice from the incomparable Ward Marston, from the booklet included with The Dawn of Recording CD set still available via

The listener should be forewarned that even the best-sounding recordings in the collection are sonically primitive… Yet, through the heavy blanket of noise, one can feel a palpable spontaneity rarely captured on early commercial recordings… one can glean real musical content in these recordings if one has the curiosity and patience to listen repeatedly and with undivided attention.

I recommend using high-quality headphones for optimal results. Eventually, one’s brain will begin to filter out the noise, and the musical aspects of each performance will emerge with unexpected vividness. What may start out sounding like noise with no musical content can end up providing the listener with hours of fascinating discovery. It may take some effort, but the rewards are worth the trouble."

Here are the recordings in question:

Trumofo’s reports v reports of Liszt, Alkan, Rachmaninoff, Hofmann …


Was wondering when the useless post would show up…

TM Iz takin a 3 day vacation, we’ll zee if he behavez after that 8)


Whoever this pianist is. He or she is pretty great. I was humming the particularly trite second piece a little without knowing afterward because of the rhythmic propulsiveness.


Though can’t say that it’s not super dissapointing that this is all there is of AR (if it’s indeed him).

I is back!!! Tru, Daim, da Gulag was a bit sheeyat. I had to haul wood logs in exchange for a small bowl of rice. And somebody always pissed in my bowl. Anyway, I is back.

Now, with all due respect - this is almost certainly not AR.
All trolling aside, he was an extremely busy man - he was managing his conservatory in Moscow and also absolutely and categorically refused to make recordings for Julius Block. The one day that he DID agree to record something - the primitive device wouldn’t work.

And, in my humble opinion, whoever this pianist is - it is a random accompanist for the singer. I can almost guarantee 99.999% that this is NOT AR. Absolutely not. It would not be this UNREMARKABLE (with all due respect to the great AR)

ur logic a bit sheeyat, since guys who ‘categorically’ refuse to record dont usually attempt to record.

anyway… i find the recording interesting - but its also tough to judge because the musical substance of the underlying pieces are not great

also respec to the fake plasticz. the break actually made quasimofo write something almost Ok.

Personally I find the theory a bit far-fetched, although it’s a nice thought.
We do have Rubinstein’s voice on one cylinder from memory? Where he’s asked to play and says no?

Tru! We do have a confirmed rec of his voice.

Da Rubinstein n Busoni were not known to be penists who make pretty pretty sounds and play miniatures that fit on to 78 rpm sides.
Busoni’s pupils were horrified by his acoustics except for the 13th Hung Rappah.

It’s probably better for posterity that da TRURUDY didn’t rec a sheeyat.

Busoni’s Bach (P&F + trans) are great.

they’re interesting, tru.
da Hung rappah 13 too

Yeah I think the Bach P & F are HR HR 13 are outstanding.

I actually think all of his recordings are excellent.

Where did you read that his students were horrified by the 1922 recordings? Are you sure they weren’t actually talking about piano rolls?

Woof woof woof!

I like all Busoni’s Columbia 78rpms.
I have a perfect condition 15-2 & 10-5 late pressing disc which sound is very good.

About Rubinstein as accompanist, I’m so glad if it’s tru.
I also thought that there was a possibility of Rubinstein’s performance.

btw, Sakuraphon uncovered a new Friedman test pressing, yes?

I regret to say that I don’t have Friedman’s any test pressing.
But Sakuraphon will reissue “Pupil of Leschetizky” and Friedman’s Chopin’s 69-1(different version from APR unpublised recs.) include P of L Volume 3 !!

Ah, so an alternate take.
That’s good.