Sousa's Band, "Siegfried Fantasie," 1906.
The Library of Congress has unveiled an enormous online Jukebox containing more than ten thousand Victor Talking Machine recordings from the early years of the twentieth century. Well over a thousand of these are of the classical persuasion. There are the well-known classics — Caruso, Melba, Schumann-Heink, and the rest — alongside all sorts of fascinating oddities. Some of the Wagner selections are unsurprising, but I was taken aback by Sousa's rendition of the grim second transformation sequence in Parsifal. (Titurel's apocalyptic funeral procession begins, it seems, with someone ringing a doorbell.) Anastasia Tsioulcas has more on what's in the archive, and what's missing.