Reperformance and copyright

Glen Gould in the radio studio

Turns out that the recent ‘re-performed’ Goldberg Variations by Glen Gould is all about copyright. The amount of ‘good stuff’ from older recordings available on audio CD and for download now at low prices is a concern as new artists will find it much harder to get a hearing.

European copyright law on sound recordings means that recordings that are 50 years old go out of copyright. Sound recording was quite good in 1957, and the copyright cut off date will move forward into the 1960s quite soon, including very high quality stereo recordings. I have heard 30 ips stereo tape masters from the late 1960s and they are amazingly good.

My other recordings of the Goldberg Variations include Janine Johnson’s recording on Magnatune on a harpsichord that she helped to build and which she decorated, and the recent Simone Dinnerstein recording on an old Steinway that has seen some life. Both of these performers will receive some revenue from their recordings for the next 50 years or so. Buy ‘new’ recordings when you can…

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