Beginnings Journey Archiving Project Collection

The Journey

I began collecting records when I was 3 years old. My first were 78rpm 10- and 12-inch singles, along with a few 78rpm albums. Uncle Ernie had a jukebox business, and he would bring me boxes of records from his jukeboxes. Classical music records were provided by Grandma Robertson, who supported my love of music by taking me on what she called "bats," our special record-buying shopping expeditions.  

Don Robertson

"The Knight-Campbell Music Company"

When Grandma Robertson took me on one of our "bats," we rode in her big Cadillac downtown to the Charles E. Wells Music Company and to Knight-Campbell Music, Denver's two premiere music stores, and then, following this, we always had a fantastic lunch at the Denver Athletic Club, where Grandpa was one of the directors. I loved going to the "D.A.C." because of the piped-in music provided by Muzak. Music from Muzak in those days had not yet become the "elevator music" especially created for dining and shopping ambiance. Instead, classical and semi-classical records from the RCA and Columbia were featured.

"My Favorite Records"

My favorite records were the four 78rpm 12-inch records in the Beethoven Fifth Symphony album. Mom told me years later that everyone puzzled at how I always knew the order that the records were to be played in, as I was too young to understand numbers. Each record had a different amount of groves, leaving the areas between where the groves ended and the the label began different for each side. I memorized the proper order of the sides by looking at the lengths of this area, equating the size of these with the days of the week, the order of which I had already learned.

Toscanni conducts Beethoven's 5th Symphony

"The First LP Records in Denver"

Walter Schlegel and his family lived directly behind our home. He owned the Denver dealership for Philco, the company that produced the first LP record players. One day in 1948, Mrs. Schlegel summoned me to her house and introduced me to Denver's first LP record player, with records that had been produced by Columbia, the inventor of the LP record format. I spent many hours every day at her house listening to music.

Tchaikovsky Concerto with Isaac Stern
33-1/3 10" Record

"The 45 RPM Player"

In February, 1949, RCA Victor announced the 45rpm record player and two months later, for my birthday, Grandma Robertson bought me one of these early players, along with a stack of RCA Victor classical record albums: box sets of 45rpm red-vinyl records. Over the next six years, my collection of 45rpm records continued to grew.

In 1950, my father gave me an Eicor tape recorder, one of the earliest commercial tape recording machines, and the following year, I was given a 3-speed "record changer" that played 45s, LPs, and 78s.

Video demonstrating RCA 45rpm Player

box five

"Milton Shrednick's Record Rack"

About 1950, Denver band leader Milton Shrednick opened a record shop on East 8th Avenue, about a mile from my home. I went there any time that I could and I probably drove poor Mr. Shrednick crazy. In those days you could listen to records in listening booths that every record store provided, and I did just that. I was intent on hearing every record in the store, if possible. The photo above shows one of the classical music promotional records from Columbia that Mr. Shrednick used to give me each month after he was finished with them. Every penny of my allowance went toward buying 45rpm records from Milton Shrednick; LP records were beyond the means of my youthful budget.

"Records for My Radio Station"

I catalogued and assigned a number to every record in my collection. I purchased the same green sleeves that the "real" radio stations used, and stored all of my records on a shelf in my bedroom radio station. Meanwhile, my childhood friend and home radio-station coconspirator, Rob Wilfley, typed letters to every record label in the USA requesting free demonstration record service, as was the practice in "real" radio stations. For about a year, I received every popular record issued by such record companies as Dot and Coral.

A Musical Kaleidoscope VIDEO:
Forgotten Dreams by Leroy Anderson

"LP Records"

As LP records were beyond my childhood budget, I listened to classical music and semi-classical musicals that I found in the houses of relatives and my parents' friends. For this photo, I had asked my sister Leslie to hold up an LP record that I had found among the records belonging to my Aunt Dorothy when we visited her on Cape Cod about 1952. I wanted a photo of this album because it had a green label that I hadn't seen before. But alas, the label's color could not be viewed in a black and white photograph!

"My Aunt's Record Player"

My mind was always filled with music. I composed new music in my head, humming it, trying to mimic the sounds of various instruments. I could replay complete records in my mind also, exactly as they sounded when I played them. All of this constituted my inner world. On the family trip to visit Aunt Dorothy in Cape Cod, my aunt asked me to pose for a photograph. Being a painter, she wanted to do a charcoal portrait of me based on this photo. I told her I would not sit for a photo unless it included her record player. Here is the result.

"Lou Morgan Music"

About 1955, a new music store appeared near my home in Denver. Located in the 300 block on Holly Street, it was operated by the wife of another Denver bandleader, Lou Morgan, and she was just my kind of lady. Fascinated with me, my radio station, and my love for both classical and popular music, she would go to any lengths to find records for me. She was my source for records that nobody else in Denver sold. She would call executives at record labels if need be to find a rare pop 45 or 78 RPM record that I had heard only one time on the radio. My 45 and 78 RPM record collection continued to grow.

"Enhancing the Collection"

With the arrival of Elvis Presley in 1956, I abandoned all other forms of music except rock and roll. However, I discovered the guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1960 and that year I turned from rock to jazz. In September, I joined the US Navy. I continued to collect records, but now it would be Jazz that I was interested in until late 1961, when I rediscovered classical music. After I was discharged from the Navy, I started using money that I made playing guitar in bands and combos to augment my growing classical record collection.

"I Discover a New Music"

In early 1966, I was attending the music school of Colorado University in Boulder. When a man who worked in a Boulder record store introduced me to North Indian classical music and the great Indian musician Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, my musical life changed forever. This music had such a profound effect on me that I decided to study it seriously. That summer I enrolled in the School of Ethnomusicology at the University of California Los Angeles, and there I was introduced to the music of the great classical music traditions from around the world: India, Japan, Greece, Persia, China, Africa, Java, Bali. Only a few records of world music were available in the US at that time, and I searched for them diligently.

A Musical Kaleidoscope Playlist:
Om Kultoum - "The Star of the Orient"

"Collecting Indian Music"

In the fall of 1966, I moved to New York City to attend the Julliard School of Music. I played guitar, tamboura, tabla and sitar on recording sessions for television commercials and record albums. There was a store located in downtown Manhattan called Sam Goodies that imported record albums from all over the world. It was in this store that I began to find the great recordings of the master vocalists of North Indian classical music. The records that I purchased from this store form the heart of my Indian collection. I continued to collect North Indian classical music in the form of LPs, CDs and cassettes for many years.

A Musical Kaleidoscope Playlist:
Great Vocalists of North Indian Classical Music

"I Dream of Palestrina"

In 1969, I moved to San Francisco. During my final months of living in New York City, I had begun listening to the music of J.S. Bach, finding great recordings imported from Germany and Holland. One night in San Francisco during 1971, I had a dream. In this dream I heard a voice saying that Bach was a very great composer, but other great composers had lived before his time. I was then shown an album cover with the name Palestrina written on it. I knew about the music of the 16th century Italian composer from my studies at Colorado University, but I had never considered his music interesting. I took my dream seriously, however, and at this point I began daily listening sessions, finally grasping what Palestrina's amazing music was all about. I then embarked upon a decades-long accumulation and study of rare recordings of Renaissance sacred music and Gregorian chant.

A Musical Kaleidoscope Playlist:
Renaissance Sacred Music

"French Classical Music of the Romantic Era"

In About 1976, I began collecting the music of the romantic French composers, Cesar Franck along with students of Cesar Franck: Debussy, Chausson, Duparc, Lekeu, Ropartz, d'Indy, as well as other composers of the period such as Magnard and Faure. Discovering this world of French classical music was a revelation for me, and my collecting and study continues to this day. So much of this music was, and still is, completely unavailable. I went to great extremes in order to find it. For example, when I heard that a newly released and nearly impossible to find recording of Franck's Beatitudes was to be broadcast on a local FM station, I paid a professional to record it from the radio for me. The French composer Guy Ropartz, who has been almost completely forgotten, I consider to be one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century. One of my goals is to introduce his music through Musical Kaleidoscope. I recommend his symphonies.

A Musical Kaleidoscope Playlist:
French Classical Music of the Romantic Era


In 1989, I turned my interest to discovering music in the one genre that I still wanted to find out about: the important spiritual music called American Gospel. Since I had my own computer contracting and consulting business, I could pick and chose my clients, and therefore I began accepting clients located in Southeast America: the heartland of the true American folk music - gospel, jazz, blues, and country. In 1995, I moved to Richmond Virginia and during the next five years, I accumulated a large collection of original recordings CDs, LPs, 78s, 45s and cassettes of African American gospel music. My mentor was my good friend Barky, of Barky's Spirituals in downtown Richmond Virginia. His store is still the best, and perhaps the only, traditional gospel music store in the USA.

Barky's Spirituals

"The Isaacs"

During the 1990s, I not only collected and studied African American gospel music, but also the gospel music of the white world: Southern Gospel Music. Mary Ellen and I traveled across the South attending numerous concerts and visiting collectors, record shows, and flea markets to purchase records. Our friends, the family bluegrass gospel group called "The Isaacs," sang at our wedding in 1999, pictured here. I was very fortunate to have found very rare recordings of both Southern and African American gospel music and continued collecting until 2002, when I became satisfied that I had found everything that I was looking for.

A Musical Kaleidoscope Playlist:
The Isaacs

Beginnings journey Archiving Project Collection