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Preserving early Czech sound recordings in the United States

Mr. Filip Šír, coordinator of digitization of historical sound recordings at the National Museum of the Czech Republic, visited Chicago on May 2 – 4, 2019 during his journey in the USA.

Already on May 1, 2019, his recently published book „Gabriel Gössel, Filip Šír: Bohemia on Records: Early Czech Sound Recordings in the United States" was lauched at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, DC, in the presence of the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic Antonín Staněk and General Director of the National Museum Michal Lukeš. Mr. Šír presented the book at the T.G. Masaryk Czech School at Chicago on May 2 and at the meeting with representatives of Czech-American compatriot organizations in Chicago at the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago on May 3, 2019.

Mr. Šír also visited the historical Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago which was established mainly by immigrants from Czech lands and other Eastern European countries at the end of 19th century and beginning of the 20th century and where mostly immigrants of Mexican origin are living now. At the 18th Street in Pilsen, Mr. Šír visited houses where one of the oldest gramophone and phonograph records‘ stores of Mr. Joseph Jiráň, Frank Prošek and Tomáš Košatka, established around 1910, were located.

Mr. Šír continued with the presentation of the book at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on May 5, 2019 and at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. In Portland, Oregon, Mr. Šír will attend the conference of the US Association for Recorded Sound Collections.

The publication „Bohemia on Records“ offers readers the first comprehensive overview of recordings produced by American gramophone companies for a growing community of Czech immigrants in the US during the first half of the twentieth century. The work begins with profiles of several of the most significant personalities among those Czech immigrants, individuals who made their mark as businessmen in the music industry soon after coming to the US. The main section of the book presents a discography of sound recordings made by Czech immigrant ensembles and performers published on phonograph cylinders and shellac records between 1902 and the late 1940s in ethnic series offered by the American record companies. There is also a CD with some early Czech sound recodings from the US attached, including the oldest ethnic recording in Czech language „Patent“ from  Edward Jedlička, goldsmith from New York City, of 1903, owned by the National Museum of the Czech Republic in a digital form and stored physically in the Library of the US Congress in Washington, DC. https://www.discogs.com/Various-Bohemia-On-Record/release/12821317

The National Museum of the Czech Republic makes efforts to preserve the audio heritage of the Czech Republic, including through  the project called New Phonograph – listening to the history of sound  http://novyfonograf.cz/en/ and a research project focused on early Czech sound recordings in the United States of America. You will find more information on the website of the National Museum www.nm.cz or New Phonograph http://novyfonograf.cz/en/ or you can contact Mr. Filip Šír by e-mail: filip_sir@nm.cz, phone: +420 605 473 483. Outcomes of the research in the USA should include a website showcasing individual histories of Czech immigrants through audioviual methods, published research into sheet music and its connection to the movement of Czech immigrants, a directory of Czech music distributors of the 19th and 20th centuries, and a virtual library of sound recordings which traces rich history, constributions, and integration of Czech people into American life.

https://mkcr.cz/novinky-a-media/narodni-muzeum-ziskalo-vzacne-predmety-z-pozustalosti-manzelu-benesovych-4-cs3272.html

https://www.mzv.cz/washington/en/culture_events/news/czechoslovak_president_benes_legacy.html

https://www.ceskatelevize.cz/porady/1097206490-udalosti-v-kulture/219411000120502/video/692874

 

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Uchovávání historických českých nahrávek v USA 329 KB PDF (Adobe Acrobat document) May 7, 2019

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Uchovávání historických českých nahrávek v USA