Arbiter of Cultural Traditions is a 401c3 non-profit arts organization founded in 2002 as a means to continue the work of the former Arbiter Recording Company by saving performances of musicians whose work embodies our classical music at its height. Our efforts are critical as the aging survivors of past  traditions are not long for this world and decaying media threatens to lose its sounds: our cultural heritage often hangs by a thread. Western classical musicians we have saved such as as Roman Totenberg, Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Ignace Tiegerman played at the highest musical level of their time, of any time. We spare no effort to locate such music-making wherever it survives.

World Arbiter seeks authentic traditional music from  cultures beyond Western European classical music. The late Teresa Sterne who created Nonesuch’s legendary Explorer series was our guiding light in the beginning. Sterne personally intervened to sharpen and define our methodology. Our vital examples document  traditions with scholarly texts to serve as a musical guide and reference work. Multimedia CD projects go beyond music with extensive PDF and video files when placed in a computer. Arbiter recently received a grant from the Mellon Foundation to restore and publish the entire known surviving recordings of Balinese music made in 1928. The resulting publication effected a repatriation of performances that had remained inaccessible since their release and subsequent destruction.

Many of our downloads contain bonus tracks, many of which were previously unpublished. All are available only as downloads; many CDs also have been completely remastered with new software provided to our studio through a grant. All discs and bonus tracks are listed below in the catalog. CD Orders within the United States are shipped gratis: foreign requests should email us for postage fees:

info /at/ arbiterrecords.org

Latest Arbiter Records Release

Russian Visionaries

Russian Visionaries: from Glinka to the Firebird

  • In 1850 Russia had one major composer and several piansts but within sixty years their music scene dominated the world's concert halls. We bring to light Stravinsky enrapt in a state of ecstacy while conducting a work by his mentor Rimsky-Korsakov. Our latest expedition follows pioneers who sought to either imitate Western music or excavate native Pagan, Mythic, and Central Asian sources. When Tchaikovsky's violin concerto hit Vienna, a critic wrote: "We know that in contemporary literature there have started to appear works whose authors love to reproduce in detail the most repulsive physiological phenomena, including foul smells. One might describe literature of that kind as stinking. Well, Tschaikowsky has shown us that there can also be stinking music." Musorgsky instead deprecated Westerners: "A German, when he thinks, starts by analyzing, then demonstrates, while our Russian brother starts by demonstrating, and only then amuses himself by analyzing." Performances include lost recordings by Erica Morini, Georg Szell, Alfred Hoehn, Rachmaninoff, Issay Dobrowen, Albert Coates, Michael Zadora, Konstantin Igumnov, Alexander Kamensky, Oskar Fried, Igor Stravinsky himself, and Vladimir Sofronitsky. Sounds and text follow a path that not only overturned the West's musical hegemony but became a risk to a Soviet regime that tried to recast them into obedient fodder for their obligatory Socialist Realism cult.

Latest World Arbiter Release

Japanese Traditional Music: Songs of People at Work and Play

  • First complete publication ever! The sounds and intensity of Volume Five's folk music surpasses anything heard in their classical music. With Japan's ongoing modernization and loss of its traditional music, our audio restoration removes artifacts from chronological chains to resonate in the eternal flow of sound that defies time and space to remain vital and always in the present.

Latest from the Blog

What’s new?

 

au revoir simone @qro

How lucky can one get? New things appear on the path as sound archaeology mixes and messes with varied eruptions so let’s hang out here and check what’s turned up.

The oracular backwards percussion that inhabits Strawberry Fields Forever was a bare inkling of what lay ahead for a curious boy on the threshold of becoming a teenager.

 

David Lynch later shared some good news in a dream sequence.

Twenty-five years after it reappeared with something new added as a plethora of a tasty language also summoned forth Brooklyn’s Au Revoir Simone:

Their joy in using analog synthesizers syncs into new graphic representations of David Borden’s The Continuing Story of Counterpoint.

David Borden with decoy and early Moogs.

Six parts that thrive with a vocal line that has its section busily bombinating within a modular tail chasing that clairvoyantly implies what may follow as inevitable or a drop down into a sudden revelation, accumulating a psychic interplay as these pieces proceed in time.

Trumpets with electronics have gone further. Grasshopper, from Brooklyn, brings in the right kind of modal terror:

Nate Wooley began mixing his brass with electronics much earlier and has a new large scale work in The Complete Syllables Music, of which this is an excerpt:

Overstimulation continues with Arbiter projects soon to appear that will divine pagan, wanna-be Westerner, and occult fairy tale in the origins of Russian music, the sage pianist Mieczylaw Horszowski will be heard

fathoming two bottomless Beethoven works that resonate in a foundation given to him by his teacher, whose own master had been Beethoven’s assistant, and two linked cellists Tibor de Machula with his teacher Felix Salmond astonish by revealing what has been hidden inside their otherwise well-known instrument,

 

and Veena Dhanammal, whose grandson T. Viswanathan (skip ahead to 2:38 for his performance)

was preparing liner notes but suddenly died three days after we began to reawaken her.

Dhanammal was a blind veena master who was recorded in the 1930s and was grandmother of the dancer Balasaraswathi:

New books appear and one came quite close. Alex Shoumatoff stopped in on the last day of his 69th year with more good news (in front of Beatrice Muzi’s recent sculpture):

An indefatigable explorer and environmental activist, Shoumatoff’s latest book has arrived to shake up any and every user of the insidious palm oil that lurks where you least suspect it and must lead to saving the deforestation of the planet’s lungs:

 

Busy time with nature and music on everyone’s mind. Let’s not allow culture and our Earth to spiral into a Totentanz.

 

 

Allan Evans ©2017