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Classique - Lp Cover Galore


777 Classical Album Covers

Ever since Alex Steinweiss created the first graphic album cover, the way records were presented became instrumental in selling music, all kinds of music. First the 78 rpm shellac albums and from 1948 on the LP, the Long Playing record, the format devised by Columbia.

Album cover art evolved from relatively simple yet stylish graphics to elaborate art, evolved from one style to another, and the cover became the playground for artists and their new creative ideas which led to all sorts of developments. Often the record collector was attracted to a lay-out, a specific design of a logo or a label and the music came second.

That is exactly what makes a collection of album cover art and label design so interesting: styles, applications, themes, techniques. And that is what Horst Scherg had in mind when early in 2003 he planned to prepare a book with covers from the LP era, the period from the early nineteen fifties to the nineteen eighties.

That book has now been published. It is a heavy volume counting some 220 pages with 777 covers and several labels, most from his own record collection. Horst Scherg wrote an interesting introduction, gave details of records, added names of designers, and divided the material in various categories like basic graphic art in the nineteen fifties, the application of photography, the use of abstract art, portraits of composers and performers, and so on. Each section has one or more explaining paragraphs. There is ample room for labels, names of designers and reference numbers. The book has a register. All covers are listed by original reference number of the record.
The title fully covers the contents: CLASSIQUE - Cover Art For Classical Music.

Is this book new? Yes. Many books have been published about album covers of jazz records, and of popular LPs. But publications of Lp covers for classical music are rare. There is of course Jaco van Witteloostuijn's "The Classical Long Playing Record" which shows covers and labels as well, but deals mainly with aspects of collecting records and the value of the records today.

CLASSIQUE is just a book for browsing and letting your eye absorb the cover art. The book shows beautiful examples, outstanding and less outstanding designs, and also a few average creations, as not all covers had a perfect style and composition. This makes the book a comprehensive study. Many names like those of (Otto) Rado, Robert Galster, Maas, Henry Ries, Boyle, Grant, Murphy, Mishimura, Joseph Hirsch, Victor Collin, etc. can be found in this book. But there are more artists to discover. And of course the name of Alex Steinweiss is inevitably connected to this book, as to any publication on cover art.

It is clear that the publication of this vast material was a long term project. Not only finding the many names and seeking the cooperation of record companies, and collectors, but also the elaborate graphic preparation, discussing the lay-out, and do the editing... all took quite an effort.

In this book many collectors will discover albums they have in their own collections or may have seen before somewhere and they will learn who the designer of a specific cover or the artist of the painting featured on the cover was.

Every once in a while, even when listening to music, CLASSIQUE will always have this specific fascination of the connection between music and art. It certainly is a welcome addition to your record collection.

CLASSIQUE - Cover Art For Classical Music
Compiled and edited by Horst Scherg
Published by Gestalten, Berlin, Germany, 2008.

Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published August 25, 2008


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