The Birth of the Recording in Spain

Episode 51 with Eva Moreda Rodríguez

From streaming music to Tictok videos to podcasts, recorded sound is ubiquitous in our lives, but few of us give much thought to how it all started. In this episode, we’re joined by Eva Moreda Rodríguez, a reader in music at the University of Glasgow, to do just that. We follow the origins of the recording all the way back to Edison’s first phonograph, tracing its path in Spain through scientific demonstrations, traveling fairs and early recording studios. Along the way, we’ll have a chance to listen to some of these early recordings and discuss both the reactions people had to them at the time and our impressions of them today.

The Episode

The Guest

Eva Moreda Rodríguez is Reader in Musicology at the University of Glasgow. A specialist in Spanish music of the twentieth century, she is the author of the monographs Music and Exile in Francoist Spain (2015), Music Criticism and Music Critics in early Francoist Spain (2016), and Inventing the Recording: The Phonograph and National Culture in Spain, 1877–1914 (2021). The latter monograph was completed with the support of an Arts and Humanities Council Leadership Fellowship. She has also co-edited the volumes Phonographic encounters: Mapping Transnational Cultures of Sound, 1890-1945 (Routledge, 2021) and Early Sound Recordings: Academic Research and Practice (Routledge, forthcoming 2023).

Suggested Readings

  • Barreiro, Javier. Antiguas grabaciones fonográficas aragonesas. 1898–1907 La colección de cilindros para fonógrafo de Leandro Pérez. Zaragoza: Gobierno de Aragón, Departamento de Educación, 2010.
  • Barreiro, Javier and Gabriel Marrol. Primeras grabaciones fonográficas en Aragón 1898–1903. Una colección de cilindros de cera. Zaragoza: Gobierno de Aragón, Departamento de Educación, 2007.
  • Gómez Montejano, Mariano. El fonógrafo en España. Cilindros españoles. Self-published: Madrid, 2005.
  • Moreda Rodriguez, Eva. Inventing the Recording. The Phonograph and National Culture in Spain, 1877–1914. Oxford University Press: New York, 2021.
  • ———. “Reconstructing zarzuela performance practices ca. 1900: Wax cylinder and gramophone disc recordings of Gigantes y cabezudos.” Journal of Musicology, 37,. No. 4 (2020): 459–87.
  • Roy, Elodie A. and Eva Moreda Rodríguez, eds. Phonographic Encounters: Mapping Transnational Cultures of Sound, 1890–1945. Routledge: Abingdon, 2021.

Music Credits

  1. “Gavota”
    From: Instantáneas
    By: Tomás López Torregrosa
    Recorded by: La Fonográfica Madrileña, ca. 1900
    Courtesy of: Biblioteca Nacional de España
  2. “And Israel saw”
    From: Israel in Egypt
    By: George Frideric Handel, 1739
    Recorded for: Handel Crystal Palace Festival, 1888
    Courtesy of: National Park Service, Thomas Edison National Historic Park, Photos & Multimedia
  3. “Coro de repatriados”
    From: Gigantes y Cabezudos
    By: Manuel Fernández Caballero
    Recorded by: Sociedad Fonográfica Española Hugens y Acosta, ca. 1900
    Courtesy of: Biblioteca Nacional de España
  4. “Cuplé de la Viejecita”
    From: La Viejecita
    By: Manuel Fernández Caballero
    Recorded by: Ruperto Regordosa in his home in Barcelona, ca. 1898-1910
    Courtesy of: Biblioteca de Catalunya, Fons de cilindres sonors
  5. “Pasodoble”
    From: Los voluntarios
    By: Gerónimo Giménez
    Recorded by: Viuda de Aramburu, ca. 1900
    Courtesy of: Biblioteca Nacional de España

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