The Wizard of Menlo Park

Classical Academy | On This Day...

To earn the nickname wizard, you have to achieve something magical. When Thomas Edison first presented the phonograph in 1877 he did just that. The public were so surprised by this inventor that they stood in awe of him and his other major invention - the first industrial research lab Menlo Park in New Jersey, USA.


Edison's first phonograph recorded on tinfoil and had terrible sound quality. He redesigned the model using wax-coated cardboard cylinders produced by, amongst others, Alexandar Graham Bell. Whilst other inventors had succeeded in recording sound, Edison was the first whose invention could actually reproduce it.


The implications of the phonograph for classical music are self-evident. The invention changed the face of the music industry and allowed beautiful performances of wonderful pieces to be disseminated across the world. Celebrate with our special playlist featuring music that is thought to have been one of the oldest recordings made on the phonograph executed in London's Crystal Palace - Handel's choral music.


Click here to find out more about choral music past and present.