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Guide to the Nate Brown Western Sound Archive Collection ARS.0124
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Source
  • Sponsor
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Contents
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Nate Brown Western Sound Archive Collection
    Dates: 1930-1981
    Collection number: ARS.0124
    Collection size: 32 boxes : 1350 tapes [1190 7" reels ; 131 10.5" reels ; 19 5" reels ; 13 3" reels]
    Repository: Archive of Recorded Sound
    Abstract: The Nate Brown Western Sound Archive Collection consists of unpublished recordings on open reel tape of orchestral music from the 1940s through 1960s, with an emphasis on conductorship.
    Language of Material: English


    Open for research; material must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use. Contact the Archive for assistance.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with repository. Publication and reproduction rights reside with the creators or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Head Librarian of the Archive of Recorded Sound.

    Preferred Citation

    Nate Brown Western Sound Archive Collection, ARS-0124. Courtesy of the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    The Nate Brown Western Sound Archive Collection was donated to the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound by Nate Brown in 1993.


    This finding aid was produced with generous financial support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


    The majority of tapes were numbered by Brown, and although the sequence contains many gaps, these comprise the main series. The remainder are listed in the following series: D prefix [dubs] -– RN/RM prefix [unknown prefrix] -– 3 prefix [3” reels] -– 4 prefix [4" reels] -– 5 prefix [5" reels] –- 10 prefix [10.5" reels] –- unnumbered tapes.

    Scope and Contents

    The Nate Brown Western Sound Archive Collection consists of unpublished recordings on open reel tape of orchestral music from the 1940s through 1960s, with an emphasis on conductorship. Brown's lifelong project was the non-profit Western Sound Archive, which in addition to these tapes also included original LPs, 78s, transcriptions and instantaneous discs (most of which are also now part of the Archive of Recorded Sound). The WSA can be differentiated from many other large private collections by Brown's willingness to share the material, mostly by trading on a tape for tape basis with other collectors, which in turn resulted in making still more recordings available. As the Archive itself put it, "all material in this listing is of a noncommercial nature unless otherwise indicated, and is available for exchange to private collectors and institutions only." Accordingly, there is an incredible variety here, and although there are few unique recordings, it is very likely that most of these recordings are not in general circulation or are not currently in-print commercially.
    Sources for recordings are acknowledged on some tapes, among them William Malloch, Fred Maroth, Steve Smolian, I.J. Fung, and Richard Finnie. The worldwide collecting community exchanged their local recordings, collection lists and want lists, and in some cases even recorded their voices in greetings and commentary. Some tapes suggest that the donor may have done the recording themselves. However, the majority of tapes are air checks and off-air recordings, and some dates listed may be from later broadcasts. Many of these air checks are domestic rebroadcasts from international festivals (especially from Berkeley station KPFA), as well as from the BBC, Standard Hour, Radio Moscow, RAI, and others. A few recordings (such as some from Radio Nederland and the Broadcasting Foundation of America) are official broadcast tapes rather than dubs.
    While the collection is primarily instrumental music, there are some vocal and choral works included. In addition to performances, there are also rehearsals, lectures and the occasional interview (many probably intermission filler from broadcasts). More often than not, more than one work or performance has been recorded on one tape. Movements are also split among tapes, and works are not always complete. As the tapes came from so many sources, there are many different recording, dubbing, and metadata standards at work. In many cases, notes, programs, and correspondence are enclosed with the tapes. There are also notes from Brown, i.e. "squeals, use tape no. 444." Some recordings were used for reissues on Maroth's Music and Arts label, and there are production notes from them on some tape boxes.
    With a collection this size, selecting a few representative recordings is a tall order; however, the Western Sound Archive was particularly strong in the following areas: conductors such as Walter, Szell, Furtwangler, Klemperer, Mengelberg, Busch, Rosbaud, Boult, Goldberg, Ormandy, Mitropoulos, and Beecham; soloists such as Rostropovich, Michelangeli, Gould, Hofmann, Schnabel, and Landowska, and orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic (including the Hollywood Bowl), BBC Symphony, NBC Symphony, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, RAI Symphonic Orchestra of Rome, Turin, and Milan, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. There are recordings from music festivals in Holland, Vienna, Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Salzburg, Budapest, and Prague, among others.

    Indexing Terms

    Brown, Nathan E.
    Western Sound Archive.
    Instrumental music
    Orchestral music
    Radio programs