The Bell Telephone Hour collection of sound recordings

Collection Data

Weekly 30-minute NBC radio broadcasts, featuring classical and light classical music, which began on Apr. 29, 1940 and continued until 1958. In September, 1959, the Bell Telephone Hour made its television debut as a monthly musical special. It remained a regular television program until April 26, 1968. Library's holdings incomplete. Broadcasts chiefly originated from New York City, sponsored by the Bell Telephone Company (American Telephone and Telegraph). Each 30-minute program generally features a guest singer or instrumentalist, with the Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra, conducted by Donald Voorhees, and the Bell Telephone Hour Chorus. Frequent guest artists include Marian Anderson, Robert Casadesus, Nelson Eddy, Josef Hofmann, Fritz Kreisler, Oscar Levant, James Melton, Grace Moore, Ezio Pinza, Lily Pons, Bidú Sayão, Gladys Swarthout, John Charles Thomas, Helen Traubel, and Eileen Farrell. Chief announcer: Floyd Mack.
Anderson, Marian, 1897-1993 (Performer)
Casadesus, Robert, 1899-1972 (Performer)
Eddy, Nelson, 1901-1967 (Performer)
Hofmann, Josef, 1876-1957 (Performer)
Kreisler, Fritz, 1875-1962 (Performer)
Levant, Oscar, 1906-1972 (Performer)
Melton, James, 1904-1961 (Performer)
Moore, Grace, 1898-1947 (Performer)
Pinza, Ezio (Performer)
Pons, Lily, 1898-1976 (Performer)
Sayão, Bidú (Performer)
Swarthout, Gladys, 1904- (Performer)
Thomas, John Charles, 1891-1960 (Performer)
Traubel, Helen (Performer)
Farrell, Eileen, 1920-2002 (Performer)
Voorhees, Donald (Conductor)
Mack, Floyd (Commentator)
Bell Telephone Hour Chorus (Performer)
Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra (Performer)
National Broadcasting Company (Contributor)
Bell Telephone Company (Sponsor)
American Telephone and Telegraph Company (Sponsor)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1940 - 1968
Library locations
Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
Shelf locator: *L (Special) 89-33
Radio programs, Musical -- United States
Vocal music
Orchestral music
Instrumental music
Radio programs
Additional physical form: Transfer copies of portions of the collection are available for listening at the Archives. For holdings information, refer to finding aid.
Citation/reference: Finding aid available in Archives in: *L(Special) 89-33, and on internet.
The collection is divided into three main series and several sub-series: I. Radio programs (1940-1958) ; i. Original series (from April, 1940-April, 1942) ; ii. "Great Artists" series (from May, 1942-June, 1958) ; II. Television programs (1959-1968) ; III. Undated materials. Items are arranged chronologically.
Biographical/historical: "One of the great long-running shows of radio, the Bell Telephone Hour consisted of concert music performed by the Bell Telephone Orchestra and various guest artists." The sponsor of the show was the Bell Telephone Company, and ' The Bell Waltz,'(Donald Voorhees, composer), was its theme song. The first broadcast of the Bell Telephone Hour (also known simply as the Telephone Hour) was on Monday, April 29, 1940 at 8 p.m. over the NBC radio network. For the first two years, the show featured regular soloists James Melton and Francia White performing classical and operatic selections with the Bell Telephone Orchestra. On April 27, 1942, the format changed to the "Great Artists series," which featured a "succession of vocal and instrumental artists from opera and the concert stage." This series offered listeners a different famous 'great artist' each week, backed by the Bell Telephone Orchestra directed by Donald Voorhees. This series continued until 1958, during which time listeners were entertained by the talents of artists including Marian Anderson, Helen Traubel, Lily Pons, Jussi Bjoerling, Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Jennie Tourel, and many others. Several times a year, popular performers such as Bing Crosby; Benny Goodman, Nelson Eddy, and Mary Martin appeared. "By 1950, it was linked with The Railroad Hour, The Voice of Firestone, and the NBC Symphony in a solid block of musical programming known as NBC's Monday Night of Music." In September, 1959, the Bell Telephone Hour made its television debut as a monthly musical special. It remained a regular television program until April 1968. Dunning, John, 1942- On the air : the encyclopedia of old-time radio . New York : Oxford University Press, 1998. Lackmann, Ronald W. The encyclopedia of American radio : an A-Z guide to radio from Jack Benny to Howard Stern . New York : Facts On File, c2000. Shapiro, Mitchell E. Television network prime-time programming, 1948-1988 . Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Company, c1989.
Physical Description
Extent: 1579 sound discs :analog, acetate, 33 rpm ;16 in.
Audio disc
Type of Resource
Sound recording
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b16130236
MSS Unit ID: 20502
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 8f515380-2c77-0136-2af7-4dd36ca0376d
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