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Many of our downloads contain bonus tracks, many of which were previously unpublished.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:

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Latest Arbiter Records Release

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

In Transition


There they were. Caught when Maria-Mary-Miriam was getting some news from an angel. Botticelli’s use of light, form and space added an element that shocked through a moment of transition. One of the stunners held at the Uffizi Galleries, Firenze.

Do all good things come to an end? Years later it was returned after restoration:


Looks more like a postcard. His mystical use of air, light, gesture, all have succumbed to lucre and poster sales. This came to mind when listening to Alfred Hoehn (1887-1945) play Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. One moment came as a shock! This moment! Where have you been all my life?



Confession: never liked this piece. Usually played with a treacly sentiment and made obligatory for athletic piano contests. Shame. Once knew Nadine Khaouly, a singer at Mannes College from Beirut who praised her Russian cello teacher Dahl whose brother hypnotized Rachmaninoff during a writer’s block and out came this. I hope to locate her someday.

The composer’s official recording was meant to display his intentions. One passage came to mind as a transition. How did he play it in 1929?


Nice melody that gets subsumed. Listen and pick out what you can.

Another big shot at that time was Walter Gieseking, whose playing of Rachmaninoff impressed the composer. Here he is in 1940 Amsterdam:


Notice anything that he doesn’t notice?

Then the venerated Arthur Rubinstein, whom one dare not criticize without being attacked. He highlights its high notes:


And Hoehn? A poet Arbiter rescued whose Brahms 1st, Tchaikovsky’s 1st and part of Brahms’ 2nd surpasses most other players. He dared to write about French Impressionism during the Nazi period and did not get top assignments, just local gigs. Hoehn would have been ideal to have recorded the 2nd with Max Fiedler who was assigned Elly Ney, a humorless Nazi. An on-stage stroke ended Hoehn’s career in 1940 and in 1945, a US soldier billeted in his home expressed rage at the old cripple by pushing his piano down a flight of stairs, an act that sent Hoehn to the beyond by a fatal heart attack.

Hoehn taught Hans Rosbaud, the conductor heard on this unpublished recording. Here’s Hoehn and I augur that he and Botticelli work their magic on you in a way that transcends the others, even its creator. Again its magic is with us.


©2020 Allan Evans