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1920-1929

By the 1920s, the music industry was back on track and was soon booming as consumers bought more and more music. Columbia had recording contracts with some of the top conductors of the day including Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Henry Wood, Bruno Walter, Igor Stravinsky and Gustav Holst, whilst over at The Gramophone Company, their leading artist of the time was the British composer and conductor Sir Edward Elgar. The company also produced recordings from the great orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic.

In 1926, The Gramophone Company released its first million seller: ‘O For The Wings of a Dove’ from Mendelssohn’s ‘Hear My Prayer’, sung by 14-year-old Ernest Lough on the HMV label.

During the decade, Columbia expanded through a number of acquisitions of record companies in Europe, including Odeon in Germany, Pathe in France and, in 1926, the Parlophone label in London. Parlophone had an impressive roster of classical artists including one of the leading tenors of the time, Richard Tauber, and today it is still one of EMI’s most important labels.

The decade saw further important developments in the technology of recording and producing records. In the mid-1920s the Gramophone Company began releasing double-sided discs and, in 1926, electrical recording was introduced for the first time, with consequent dramatic improvements in quality.

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