Cylinder of the Month

See also the Cylinders of the Month Archive.

For June 1999 . . .

This month:   An early brown wax recording of a most unusual nature – from 1892, The Esquimaux Dance.

The Esquimaux Dance
Company New Jersey Phonograph Company
Cylinder # 426
Category Clarinet solo
Title The Esquimaux Dance
Performed by William Tuson
Circa 1892
Announcement "The Esquimaux Dance – This is a religious rite performed by Esquimaux after the rising of the sun."

It is difficult to overstate the oddness of a piece written for clarinet, piano, anvil, and dog.

To hear The Esquimaux Dance  —

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

This recording was made on a so-called "cuff"-length cylinder, 3-5/8" long, as compared with a standard-sized cylinder of 4-1/8".   Cuff-length cylinders were common in the early 1890's.

A 3" mini-cuff-length, 3-5/8" cuff-length, and 4-1/8" standard brown wax cylinder.

Although one would expect these smaller cylinders to generally contain shorter recordings, they were oftentimes recorded at fewer revolutions per minute (RPM).   Whereas a standard-sized cylinder of this era might typically be recorded in the 115 to 130-RPM range, a cuff-length cylinder might run from 90 to 125-RPM.   In this case, The Esquimaux Dance appears to have been recorded at 102-RPM.

The 1892 New Jersey Phonograph Company record catalog shows a list of 20 clarinet solos, "by the popular soloist and composer, Mr. William M. Tuson", concluding with the following entry:

The Esquimaux Dance, With jingling of bells, barking of dogs, etc
Based on other listings in the catalog, I would be willing to bet that the pianist is none other than Edward Issler of Issler's orchestra!

— This cylinder of the month is from the collection of  The Library of Congress —


To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the

Home Early recorded sounds & wax cylinders Cylinder music shop An Edison commemorative
2nd page Note to early recordings collectors Cylinder of the month Links to related topics
What's new Tinfoil resource center Cylinders of the month archive Donate to

Copyright (C) (P) 1996-2024 Glenn Sage, Portland, Oregon.  All Rights Reserved.  Contacting