Cylinder of the Month

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From 1900, a late recording by Issler's Orchestra – a great march medley from Sousa's El Capitan.

El Capitan March Medley

Company Consolidated Phonograph Companies
Cylinder # 5389
Category Orchestra
Title El Capitan March Medley
Performed by Issler's Orchestra
Circa 1900
Announcement "March medley from John Philip Sousa's El Capitan, played by Issler's Orchestra."

In mid-1889, in the earliest days of the commercial recording industry, at the Edison Laboratory they were looking for a pianist.   According to log book of the laboratory's chief recording engineer, A. Theo E. Wangemann (see also the June 1998 Cylinder of Month), after recording with four others pianists, they tried Edward Issler.   Issler soon became the de facto pianist of choice at Edison Labs.   And as is often said, the rest is history.  

In addition to piano accompaniment, Issler had formed a rather compact orchestra for making phonograph recordings initially consisting of a piano, cornet, flute and a violin.   Through the end of the 19th Century, Issler's Orchestra, with their distinctive sound (frequent doubling of cornet with flute or piccolo), was the most prolific and probably most popular band recording in the U.S. (the United States Marine Band being their primary competition).   To hear other selections by Issler's Orchestra, see:

Key Title Category Performed by Circa
10/1997 Lanciers with Figures Called Orchestra Issler's Popular Orchestra 1893-1894
09/2015 My Little Irish Queen Orchestra Issler's Orchestra 1897

After the turn of the previous century, things began winding down for Issler's Orchestra, but in 1900, Issler was still turning out cracker-jack recordings such as this month's El Capitan March Medley.  

El Capitan was written by John Philip Sousa in 1896.

To hear El Capitan March Medley   —

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

Can you pick out the instrumentation in this recording?

Just for fun, jot down the instruments you hear playing in during the El Capitan March Medley.
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Issler Orchestra Records
$1.00 EACH.
Mr. Issler's Orchestra which has played in our Laboratory exclusively for the past twelve years, is composed of finished musicians, each and every one of them capable of rendering artistic solos upon their chosen instruments.   Owing to their long practice in concerted work, their rendition of the following selections has that full round and finished effect only obtained by constant and intelligent effort directed by a competent maestro.   Mr. Issler's technical knowledge of Phonographic requirements eminently qualifies him for this line of work, and records of his superb Orchestra are free from dissonance and overtones, and without reserve we recommend them to our patrons.

[Facsimile of United States Phonograph Co. Catalouge of Original Master Records, ca. 1900, page 3.]


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