The Third Decade (1920–1929)

In 1920 the 25-year-old Wilhelm Kempff makes his first Deutsche Grammophon recording (Beethoven), as does Elisabeth Schumann (“Non so più” from Figaro, sung in German). Thus begins a new direction for the company with artists including the soprano Maria Ivogün, conductors such as Hermann Abendroth, Leo Blech, and Hans Pfitzner and a recording philosophy of uncut performances, faithful to the score. In 1921 Frida Leider records Elisabeth’s Greeting from Tannhäuser and Richard Strauss is the pianist in his own lieder for baritone Heinrich Schlusnus, who soon becomes one of the company’s leading singers. In 1924 DG is allowed to resume use of the Nipper “His Master’s Voice” trademark as well as its pre-war matrices for issue in Germany, while the Polydor logo is introduced for exported records. The releases of this period emphasize Wagner and often feature the Berlin Staatskapelle under Leo Blech or the Berliner Philharmoniker under Max von Schillings. By 1925, when the electro-acoustic recording system is introduced, the company has brought out all nine Beethoven Symphonies, with Oskar Fried and others conducting the Berlin Staatskapelle, plus such large-scale symphonies as Bruckner’s Seventh and Mahler’s Second. In 1926, Wilhelm Furtwängler overcomes his scepticism regarding the medium to record Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Weber’s Freischütz Overture with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In “Beethoven Year” 1927, when the company takes over the American Brunswick label, its catalogue also contains the composer’s symphonies conducted by Otto Klemperer, Hans Pfitzner, and Richard Strauss, as well as the Adagio from Bruckner’s Eighth conducted by Klemperer, Haydn’s “Oxford” under Hans Knappertsbusch, the Mozart 39 and “Jupiter” conducted by Strauss, Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” with Bruno Walter and the Fledermaus Overture under Erich Kleiber, all with the Berlin Staatskapelle, which also plays for Strauss’s recordings of his symphonic poems (1926–33). By the time of Joseph Berliner’s death in 1928 and Emile’s the following year, DG’s annual production has reached nearly 10 million records, with the Hanover factory employing some 600 people.

Artists Joining

  • Hermann Abendroth
  • Eugen d’Albert
  • Amar-Hindemith Quartet
  • Amar-Hindemith Trio
  • Rosette Anday
  • Leo Blech
  • Karin Branzell
  • Adolf Busch
  • Fritz Busch
  • Busch-Quartett
  • Gaspar Cassado
  • Mischa Elman
  • Carl Flesch
  • Oskar Fried
  • Wilhelm Furtwängler
  • Felicie Hüni-Mihacsek
  • Maria Ivogün
  • Alfred Jerger
  • Wilhelm Kempff
  • Alexander Kipnis
  • Erich Kleiber
  • Otto Klemperer
  • Raoul von Koczalski
  • Fritz Kreisler
  • Georg Kulenkampff
  • Frida Leider
  • Emmi Leisner
  • Josef von Manowarda
  • Lauritz Melchior
  • Erica Morini
  • Maria Olszewska
  • Sigrid Onegin
  • Koloman von Pataky
  • Hans Pfitzner