August 2002
Cylinder of the Month

See also the  Cylinders of the Month Archive.

An uncommonly talented duo team up to perform Blue Bell.

Blue Bell
Company Edison's National Phonograph Company
Cylinder # 8829
Category Bells & xylophone
Title Blue Bell
Performed by Albert Benzler & Frederick W. Hager
Circa November 1904
Announcement "Bell and xylophone duet, Blue Bell.  Edison record."

The only bells and xylophone duet Edison recorded on two-minute cylinders.   Note the 'in-your-face' sound engineering job on the xylophone here.

Multi-talented musicians and composers Albert Benzler (playing the bells) and Frederick W. Hager (on the xylophone) were each prominent figures in the early recording industry.

Benzler was featured in dozens of popular recordings usually playing either the bells or the xylophone.   He also recorded the few piano solos, and one organ solo Edison produced on two-minute wax.   Moreover, Benzler is heard in literally hundreds of other recordings as piano and organ accompanist, a role he assumed after the passing of Frank P. Banta in 1903 (see the November 1999 Cylinder of the Month).

Hager was a widely recorded bandleader for several record companies.   His "Hager's Band" and "Hager's Orchestra" appeared on many dozens of Zonophone disk recordings.   For a time, according to the October 1903 Edison Phonograph Monthly, he directed the Edison Concert Band.   In this recording of Blue Bell, we get a rare hearing of Hager as a soloist.

To hear Blue Bell   —

To hear an excerpt   —  
For help playing these sounds, click here.

    No. 8829, "Blue Bell," is something new in the way of a Phonograph Record.   It is a bells and xylophone duet by Albert Benzler and Frederick W. Hager, with orchestra accompaniment.   This is a most excellent Record of one of the most popular airs published in some time.   The tune is carried by the bells, the xylophone plays a variation of the air and back of this is a fine orchestra accompaniment.   We predict that this Record will sell as well as the vocal Record of the same selection, the demand for which has exhausted our capacity to manufacture it ever since it was listed.   The composer of "Blue Bell" is Theodore F. Morse.
— October 1904 Edison Phonograph Monthly [announcing the November & December records]


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