Howard H. Scott, Godfather of the LP, Classical Producer, Dies at 92

Monday, October 08, 2012 - 08:00 PM

Howard H. Scott, a producer known for his recordings of the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the pianist Glenn Gould and the violinist Isaac Stern, and who was part of the Columbia Records team who oversaw the development of the LP, died on Sept. 22 in Reading, PA.

He was 92 when he lost a battle with cancer, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Scott was just 26 and discharged from the army in 1946 when he was hired by Columbia Masterworks for a special project: to replace the 78 r.p.m. disc with the LP. The project had begun six years earlier, but Scott was enlisted for his classical music training — they needed someone who could read orchestral scores — to help transfer recordings from 78s to the new discs, which could hold significantly more music.

Born in Bridgeport, Conn., Scott graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 1941 and had just begun graduate piano studies at Juilliard when he was drafted the next year. In the post-war years he became a staff producer at Columbia and soon working with a who's who of classical artists and American orchestras.

Some of Scott's notable recordings include:

  • Glenn Gould's idiosyncratic takes on the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 and the Bach Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F major, BWV 1056 with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra in 1958. Scott worked on several other Gould recordings from this era including the Goldberg Variations.

  • The Philadelphia Orchestra's 1959 recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, led by Eugene Ormandy. The recording is paired with Vivaldi’s two-violin concertos, featuring the famed soloists Isaac Stern and David Oistrakh.

  • A New York Philharmonic recording of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Grofé's Grand Canyon Suite (with John Corigliano, Sr. as the violin soloist) conducted by Leonard Bernstein. 

  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 1965 recording of Ives’s Symphony No. 1, with Morton Gould conducting. This brought Scott a 1966 Grammy Award as the producer of the classical album of the year.

  • Leonard Bernstein's Quadrophonic 1972 London Symphony Orchestra recording of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. CBS was very heavily into "Quad," and this justified a second recording of Bernstein leading this work in order to show off the sonic fireworks of the new system.

Along with Columbia, Scott held positions at MGM Records, RCA Red Seal, the publisher G. Schirmer and the Rochester Philharmonic, where he was executive manager in the 1970s. The Times reports that when Scott reentered the record industry as a producer for Sony from 1986 to 1993, he was "once again transferring old albums to a new format: the CD."

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Comments [2]

Les from Miami, Florida

All of us record collectors owe Mr. Scott a huge debt of gratitude for allowing a lot of music history and performance traditions to be preserved and accessed any time we want.

Oct. 10 2012 08:52 AM
Lucille Carra from New York, NY

We had the honor of interviewing Howard Scott recently for our documentary film on Glenn Gould and Scott, "Glenn Gould, Recording Artist." Our film is a tribute to their groundbreaking work in recording technology, particularly with the 1956 Goldberg Variations. As a young recording artist, Gould could not have asked for a better producer than Howard Scott, who helped develop the format Gould would explore with such enthusiasm. We cherish the memories of the lunches, the conversations, and the collaborative spirit in creating this film. So many of the great classical LPs that are part of our collective memory were produced by Howard Scott. He was a tremendous presence and he will be missed.

Oct. 09 2012 06:09 PM

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