Sunday morning music


Last week I once again came across Eugene Ormandy’s splendid rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”.  In this 1970 recording, he conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, accompanied by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with cannon fire provided by the Valley Forge Military Academy Band.  It’s long been one of my favorite recordings of this piece.  I think I’ve put it up on this blog before, but it’s so good I don’t mind a redux, and I’m sure you won’t either.

For a 52-year-old rendition, it’s held its own remarkably well in comparison to modern digital recordings.



  1. You might give a listen to the Berlin Philharmonic rendition under Herbert von Karajan, produced by Deutsche Gramaphon in the sixties. It is an older recording, but you can hear the touch holes of the cannon on a new copy. It was my introduction to Classical music in the fourth grade.

  2. Music is Analog. Therefore analog storage and reproduction will always sound superior given proper equipment. Digital works by sampling. If a sound is sampled, then it follows that sometime it is not being sampled. That is lost information. It is thus impossible for digital to be a superior method of music storage and retrieval. If you believe digital sounds better then you are either suffering from hearing loss or need to upgrade your equipment.

  3. Watched Arthur Fiedler perform this in Boston in the 70s. I think the Massachusetts National Guard provided the artillery. There's nothing like a live performance with real cannons to make this classic come alive.

  4. Sorry @Stuart but that is just deeply ignorant.

    Come back when you understand Shannon Nyquist sampling theorem, noise shaping, band-limited signals, human psycho-acoustics, dynamic range and noise floors of digital vs analogue tape (let alone LP records), RIAA curves, blah blah blah.

    If you don't can't do a z-transform or a Fast Fourier Transform… If you don't know how convolutions work, or what window functions are you're simply not qualified to have an intelligent opinion about sound reproduction.

    If this sounds like Argument from Authority, well yes it is. Authorities far greater than I (humble ex electrical engineer who studied and used this stuff once upon a time) am.

    Believing that digital sampling is inexact or 'choppy' when Shannon Nyquist conditions are met — which they are in Red Book CD standard — is like believing in Flat Earth.

    And that's just how it is.

    Readers are welcome to educate themselves at websites like (e.g.)

    The beauty of cutting the crap and dispensing with the obscurantist hand-waving is that it turns out that you can get pretty damn good audio performance for not much money in the current year. But that's another story.

  5. Fans of the 1812 Overture might also enjoy a very uncharacteristic bit of Beethoven: Wellington's Victory.

    For more B, the Chiaroscuro Quartet is starting out a complete Beethoven Cycle. They play on gut strings and it's something special. Period Instruments when they are good are very, very good. And when they are not, they get up my nose majorly. The CQ very much in the former category.

    Still can't get over the Marimba selection a few weeks back. As well as the Wave Quartet, a search on Bogdan Bacanu (the soloist) will being up a bunch of extra albums.

  6. Listening to the link now through external DAC and good headphones (HD800S) equalized to Harman Curve so getting all that can be got from recording allowing for somewhat iffy YouTube audio codec. Mormon Tabernacle Choir sure… but I can't believe they didn't smuggle in some proper Orthodox Choir bass singers… There's some very, very deep rumbly vocals hiding in there.

    Just dug out same recording lossless transfer on Tidal. Yup… no doubt there's some ring-ins.

    FWIW, the YT codec doesn't lose too much detail — noticeably more sense of the studio space in the Tidal version. But otherwise the YT not bad at all.

  7. Irish,
    Not far from me is an outdoor music venue called Ravinia. It's a bit like Tanglewood, in that Ravinia is summer home to the Chicago Symphony. A couple summers ago I took some friends for the annual CSO Tchaikovsky Spectacular .. and put us about 35 yards from the cannons. When the guns went off .. well .. it was magical.

  8. Peter .. apologies … For some silly reason I though I was on a different page .. oh well. I just had my brain-cramp for the day. At least Ravinia is out in the northern 'burbs and away from the nonsense in Teh City …

    Libertyman .. seeing Fiedler conduct must have been something to truly behold.

  9. I played lead special percussion (105mm howitzer) for that piece of music for the 2nd MarDiv band for the CG and distinguished guests the evening of July 3rd of 1985, and the official noon holiday 21-gun salute the following day.
    It was an awesome honor, and quite a hoot.

  10. Genji,

    Redbook standard. ALL 44khz of it! Double wow. Such information density!
    In 2022? When we speak in Gigahertz?

    I have been an audio engineer for 43 years. Everything you said is true. It also makes my point perfectly. Listen to the Boston Symphony Orchestra live from the center section fifteenth row or so. Hold onto that sound.

    Now do all that digital coolness just so you can get some semblance of fidelity out of your recording of live analog music. Dither it here, smooth it there, over-sample again, compress it over there. What utter nonsense.

    Spend some time in a high end audio store and see why turntables are outselling CD players and valve amplification is supreme. Forget about listening though a cheap computer circuit board – none of your recording efforts matter after what a crappy circuit does to your signal.

    Most of all – listen to the music with a live reference.
    Wash your ears first.

    Have fun… from Mr. Ignorant:-)

  11. That has also been my favorite version since my high school band days back in the late '70s. I had the LP, then the cassette, then the CD, and now I have it on thumb drives in all my vehicles.

  12. Audiophiles are legendary for claiming their 'golden ears' can hear when you have put your CD player on a granite slab 'to reduce vibration noise in the sound' or that $6,000 a pair oxygen-free nanoparticle silver speaker cables or $900 power cables will have a perceptible affect on sound reproduction. No need for double-blind evaluations….

    That said you CAN hear differences between a well-engineered analogue recording on an LP and a bad mix on a CD where the mix-monkey (not a sound engineer) just pushed everything to 11.

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