Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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German record company. Odeon was a trademark of the International Talking Machine Co., founded by Frederick Prescott in Berlin in 1903. In 1911 it was acquired by the German Carl Lindström company, which in turn was bought by Columbia International in 1926. In 1931, after the merger of Columbia and the Gramophone Company, Odeon became part of Electric and Musical Industries (EMI). EMI issued records on a variety of labels, but Odeon remained the main label of the German branch, and even after the merger it operated quite independently. After World War II it took a less prominent role, but EMI was still using the name as a trademark in 2000.

Odeon had international ambitions from the start. By 1906, the company claimed to have made 14,000 different recordings in various parts of the world. The recordings were originally made by engineers sent out from Berlin and pressed in Germany for subsequent export to the country of origin, but later additional factories were established in major markets. In Europe, Odeon had a large popular and classical repertory, with Lilli Lehmann, Emmy Destinn and John McCormack among its artists; in north Africa and Asia it recorded a large number of local artists.

During the 1920s and 30s Odeon was the flagship label of the Lindström company, its prominent artists including Lotte Lehmann, Richard Tauber, Bronisław Huberman, Gregor Piatigorsky, Hermann Abendroth, Hans Knappertsbusch, Otto Klemperer and Willem Mengelberg. The label was well known in most parts of the world, except the UK and North America. In the USA, European Odeon recordings usually appeared on the Columbia and OKeh labels, although a number of releases mainly aimed at the immigrant market appeared on the original label. The Lindström company had an extensive network of local branches and agents in continental Europe and Latin America, including such minor markets as Latvia and Albania. It was also established in most Asian countries, and was among the first record companies to exploit systematically the emerging African record market. It was the company's practice to assign separate catalogue number series for each country.

The total number of Odeon records issued is not known; probably many have been lost. Surviving examples show that in addition to its repertory of classical and popular Western music, the company made an extraordinary number of recordings of the various musical idioms of the world. Its anthology Music of the Orient, compiled from the company's repertory by the musicologist Erich von Hornbostel and issued in an album of 78 r.p.m. records in Germany and the UK during the 1930s, probably represented the first attempt to present in-context recordings of non-Western traditional music to Western audiences.


A. Guttmann: 25 Jahre Lindström 1904–1929 (Berlin, 1929)

H. Wahl: Odeon: die Geschichte einer Schallplatten-Firma (Düsseldorf, 1986)

P. Vernon: Ethnic and Vernacular Music, 1898–1960: a Resource and Guide to Recordings (Westport, CT, 1995)



The fourth largest Ukrainian city, it is strategically located at the mouths of the Danube, Dnester, Boh and Dnepr rivers. In 1480 the Odessa territory was captured by Turks, who built a fortress on it. During the Russo-Turkish War (1789), the Russian army and the Zaporozhian Cossacks took the fortress and the settlements, and in 1792 the territory was transferred to Russia under the terms of the treaty of Iaşi. In 1795 it was renamed, from the Turkish Hadzhybei, Odessa. Catherine II decided to develop the town into a large naval and commercial port and trade centre, and, because of its position as ‘the southern window to Europe’, the city grew rapidly in the second half of the 19th century, soon becoming the major cultural centre of southern Ukraine. Although the dominant language and culture was Russian, a sizeable German and Jewish minority (as well as Greek, Turkish, French and Italian) developed their own distinct cultural forms.

Odessa soon became an important musical centre: the opera house was built in 1810 and the Philharmonic Society was formed in 1839. Italian music was in vogue; Italian opera flourished and the only professional music activity in the city was operatic until in 1831 A.D. Zhilin organized instrumental concerts. It was fashionable at that time to have mixed vocal-instrumental concerts presenting a number of artists on the same evening. This changed with Franz Liszt's first tour of Odessa in 1847, which consisted of six solo concerts. Liszt was followed in 1848 by Henry Vieuxtemps, and in 1852 by A.F. Servais, and Henryk and Józef Wieniawski. Other famous violinists such as Alexander Artôt, Lipiński, Joseph Mayseder and C.-A. de Bériot also visited the city.

Official music instruction began in 1848 with the violin studio of L. Gold. Following reorganizations (first in 1866, then again in 1886), a school was set up in 1897 by the Russian Music Society and on this base the Odessa Conservatory was founded, in 1913. Violin instruction in Odessa became famous for attracting and producing world-class performers: Misha Elman (who studied with A. Fiedemann, 1897–1902), Nathan Milstein and David Oistrakh (who studied with Pyotr Stolyarsky) are just three examples. The conservatory was divided in 1923 into the Odessa Institute of Music and Odessa Music Tekhnikum. In 1928 the schools were combined as the Beethoven Music and Drama Institute. In 1934 the Odessa Conservatory was re-established. Its current name is the A.V. Nezhdanova Odessa State Conservatory. The Conservatory produced many virtuosos, among them Mikhail Goldstein and Emil Gilels. Odessa has also been home to notable composers. In 1858 P.P. Sokal's'ky settled there, pursuing his activities as composer, critic, ethnographer and music promoter until his death in 1887. In the early years of Soviet Ukraine Mykola Vilinsky and Volodymyr Femelidi achieved prominence, to be succeeded by Konstantin Dankevych (1905–84). Today the principal names are Karmela Tsepkolenko, who also runs a festival in Odessa, and Y. Znatokov (b 1926).

The core of Odessa's musical life, and one of the most important musical centres of the tsarist empire, was opera: such composer-conductors as Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Rimsky-Korsakov, Nápravník, Arensky and Glazunov, and singers such as Chaliapin, Krusceniski, Sobinov, Caruso, Battistini, Anselmi and Titta Ruffo graced the stage there. The Odessa Russian Opera was founded in 1809. In its early years the theatre featured drama and opera productions, ballets and vaudevilles, in which Russian, Italian and French companies appeared. In 1873 the theatre burnt to the ground; the Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer built a new one between 1884 and 1887. In 1925 fire again damaged the theatre, and the following year it was reopened as the Odes'ky Akademichny Teatr Opery ta Baletu (Odessa Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet). The next serious reconstruction took place in 1965–7. The Odessa Opera played a major role in the development of Ukrainian opera: two of Lysenko's works received their premières there, The Drowned Maiden (1885) and Natalka Poltavka (1889). After the reorganization in 1926, when the company became Ukrainian, it began to produce a number of Ukrainian operas, notably The Break by Volodymyr Femelidi (1929), The Golden Ring by Lyatoshyns'ky (1930), Verykivsky's The Ensign (1938) and Taras Bulba by Lysenko (1971). During the late 1920s and early 30s, until the advent of socialist realism, productions were often experimental, borrowing as much from cinema as from the theatrical avant garde.

The New Philharmonic, which includes a symphony orchestra, was founded in 1936 and has performed with many notable conductors, including Natan Rakhlin, Yury Temirkanov and Kurt Sanderling. In 1993 the Odessa Philharmonic became the first orchestra from any city in the former USSR, other than Moscow or St Petersburg, to travel to the USA. In 1992 the Venezuelan-American Hobart Earle became its music director.


G. Artemov and I. Ignatkin: Odessskiy operniy teatr [Odessa opera theatre] (Kiev, 1969)

For further bibliography see Ukraine, §I.


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