New York Pro Musica / Noah Greenberg - A discography

Conception & research: Pierre-F. Roberge
For comments, additions and corrections pfr@videotron.ca
Last update: 07/04/2007

This is an "under construction" and for now a relatively complete discography of the New York Pro Musica Ensemble

The founding of the New York Pro Musica

(This account of the founding of the New York Pro Musica was written by James Gollin. Mr. Gollin's full-length biography of Noah Greenberg was published in March 2001.)

The New York Pro Musica was founded in late 1952 and incorporated in March 1953 as the New York Pro Musica Antiqua. Its co-founders were the choral director Noah Greenberg and the recorder player Bernard Krainis. Of special interest to discophiles is the fact that neither Greenberg nor Krainis had any intention of creating a concert ensemble. Rather, Pro Musica was a combination of Greenberg's Primavera Singers and Krainis's Saint Cecilia Players. Both groups had been formed solely to make recordings.

Noah Greenberg, born in 1919, had studied composition as a teenager and had developed a keen interest in early music under the tutelage of composer-choral conductor Harold Brown. Always devoted to music, starting in 1950 Greenberg had led choruses of the members of several locals of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union and also formed and worked with small private groups that mixed amateur and professional singers.

Bernard Krainis, five years younger than Greenberg, had come home to New York after college in Denver for graduate study with musicologist Gustave Reese at N.Y.U. He had put aside the jazz trombone to master the recorder, but also on occasion sang with Greenberg's informal vocal ensembles.

Through a musician friend, Greenberg met Jerry Newman, a recording engineer who, with a partner, owned a small record company. Esoteric Records was looking for material, and Greenberg landed a contract to record a Renaissance work, Festino, a group of madrigals for carnival entertainment by the Benedictine monk and composer Adriano Banchieri. With this commitment in hand, Greenberg asked Bernard Krainis to help him recruit good young male singers to add to a group that already included sopranos Ruth Daigon and Lois Roman and mezzo-soprano Sheila Jones. Krainis recommended bass Brayton Lewis and a young lyric tenor, Russell Oberlin.

Krainis, meanwhile, had come across a rare work by the 17th-century English composer John Blow. Blow's Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell called for two counter-tenors, two alto recorders and continuo. Krainis himself could be one of the recorder players and he knew where to find a second one. He also knew that Russell Oberlin, whom he had heard at The Church of the Ascension and in a madrigal group led by Suzanne Bloch, had the voice and range of a true counter-tenor. Tenor Arthur Squires, whom Noah Greenberg had already contacted for Festino, might sing the second part. Cellist George Koutzen and harpsichordist Herman Chessid would create the continuo.

By late March 1953, Esoteric had recorded both Festino and Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell (with Charles Bressler instead of Arthur Squires singing the second counter-tenor part) and had both scheduled for release in May. When it became apparent that the company had no marketing plan and no budget for promotion, Greenberg and Krainis decided to pool their own resources. On March 29, the pair met at Greenberg's Greenwich Village apartment and agreed to join The Primavera Singers and the St. Cecilia Players in a single entity and give a concert to garner pre-release publicity and sell records. The concert, at The New School for Social Research on April 26, also launched the New York Pro Musica Antiqua on its 21-year concertizing career.


This discography is divided into three parts.

Part I lists the original recordings (35) and re-edited material containing tracks not previously released or excerpts. I have excluded from the list recordings by a sole performer, part of the NYPM at the time of recording (ex.: Decca "Gold Label" DL 10040 / DL 7 10040). Each individual title is linked to a descriptive section containing as much information as possible about the original recording; this description is cross-linked to available CDs actually on the market (april 2001) in North America or western Europe. Great care has been taken to prevent misinformation and a large part of the data originates from the records themselves (although often they are not as reliable as they should be). If the recording was not available, the content originates from the usual sources (periodicals such as The Gramophone [and the Catalogue], Diapason [and the Catalogue], Bielefelder Katalog, Notes, and Fanfare, etc.). Also data has been re-checked using the excellent Indiana University Library database [IUCAT]. Those interested in the discography of the medieval and renaissance period, should refer to the following three publications:

  1. James Coover & Richard Colvig
    Medieval and Renaissance music on long-playing records
    Detroit studies in music bibliography, no. 6; xii, 122 p.
    Detroit, Information Service inc., 1964

  2. James Coover & Richard Colvig
    Medieval and Renaissance music on long-playing records
    Supplement, 1962-1971
    Detroit studies in music bibliography, no. 26; 258 p.
    Detroit, Information Coordinators, 1973

  3. Trevor Croucher
    Early music discography: from plainsong to the sons of Bach
    2 Vol. (v. 1: Record index -- v. 2: Composer, plainsong, anonymous work, and performer indexes)
    Oryx Press, Phoenix, AZ, c1981

I tried to list titles according to their label and release dates. In the linked section, I tried to follow the track order of the recording; in some cases when the recording was not available, the order may need correction by a careful reader owning the disc. In Part I, the number appearing before the entry refers to an original recording; if no number appears it is a compilation. My goal is to cover all original recordings, but this may well be wishful thinking without comments and corrections. These could be directed to my E-mail address (pfr@videotron.ca). Credit for any significant contribution will be given at the end of the discography.
In the early LP era, as a general rule (the most noteworthy exception being Deutsche Grammophon "Arkhiv Produktion"), dates of recording and release are not stated; most dates stated in this discography were kindly provided by James Gollin.

Part II deals mostly with reedition on CDs.

Pierre-F. Roberge

PART I

I.L.G.W.U. (Esoteric Records, Inc.)

Early 1953
(Total original recordings = 1)

  1. I.L.G.W.U. (Esoteric Records, Inc.) [LP, 25cm, mono]
    We work - We Sing (Commemorative Recording - 1953 Convention of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union)
    Rec. & rel.: 1953

  2. Esoteric Records, Inc.

    [Later known as Counterpoint, Counterpoint / Esoteric (Everest Records Production), Everest Records]

    May 1953 - January 1955
    (Total original recordings = 7)

  3. Esoteric ES 515 [LP, mono]
    Handel - Music for ancient instruments and soprano voice
    Rec. & rel.: 1953

  4. Esoteric ES 516 [LP, mono]
    Banchieri: Festino - A Renaissance Madrigal Entertainment to be sung "... on the evening of Fat Thursday before Supper.."
    Rec. & rel.: 1953

  5. Esoteric ES 519 [LP, mono]
    Henry Purcell, John Blow - Instrumental & Vocal Selections
    Rec. & rel.: 1953

  6. Esoteric ES 520 [LP, mono]
    Thomas Morley - Elizabethan Madrigals , Canzonets and Ballets
    Rec. & rel.: 1953

  7. Esoteric ES 521 [LP, mono]
    English Medieval Christmas Carols
    Rec. & rel.: 1953

  8. Esoteric ESJ-6 [LP, mono, 25cm]
    An Elizabethan songbag for young people
    Rec.: 1953 & rel.: 1954

  9. Esoteric ES 535 [LP, mono]
    Henry Purcell - Songs
    Rec.: 1954 & rel.: 1955

  10. Counterpoint / Esoteric CPT 540 [LP, mono]
    Children's Songs of Shakespeare's time
    Rel.: 1957

    Counterpoint / Esoteric CPT 1502 [LP, mono]
    A Baroque Concert
    Rel.: ca 1957

    Everest 6145 / SDBR 3145 [LPx7, mono / elect. stereo]
    Noah Greenberg conducting the New York Pro Musica - An Anthology of Their Greatest Works
    Rel.: 1966

    Period

    [Also known as Contrepoint (France) and later Dover]

    1953
    (Total original recording = 1)

  11. Period PL 597 [LP, mono]
    Anthology of Renaissance Music
    Rec.: 1953 & rel.: 1954

  12. Columbia recordings

    [Also later, Odyssey label]

    1954
    (Total original recordings = 3)

  13. Columbia ML 5051 [LP, mono]
    Evening of Elizabethan Verses & Its Music
    Rec.: 1954; rel.: 1955

  14. Columbia ML 5159 [LP, mono]
    Vocal Music of Claudio Monteverdi
    Rec.: 1954; rel.: 1957 or prior

  15. Columbia ML 5204 [LP, mono]
    The Music of Salamone Rossi, Hebreo of Mantua
    Rec.: 1954; rel.: 1957

  16. Decca (US) Recordings

    1957-1968 (Total original recordings = 23)

  17. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9400 [LP, mono]
    Music of Medieval Court and Countryside
    Rec.: 1957; rel.: 1957

  18. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9402 / DL 7 9402 [LP, mono / stereo]
    The Play of Daniel
    Rec.: 1958; rel.: 1958

  19. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9404 / DL 7 9404 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Sacred Music of Thomas Tallis
    Rec.: 1958; rel.: 1959

  20. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9406 / DL 7 9406 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Elizabethan and Jacobean Ayres, Madrigals & Dances
    Rec.: 1959; rel.: 1959

  21. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9409 / DL 7 9409 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Spanish Music of the Renaissance
    Rec.: 1959 or 1960; rel.: 1960

  22. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9410 / DL 7 9410 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Josquin Des Préz: Missa Pange Lingua, motets and instrumental pieces
    Rec.: 1960; rel.: 1961

  23. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9412 / DL 7 9412 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Music of the Early German Baroque - Heinrich Schütz & Melchior Franck
    Rec.: 1960; rel.: 1961

  24. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9413 / DL 7 9413 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Heinrich Isaaac: Music for the Court of Lorenzo the Magnificent - Jacob Obrecht: Missa Fortuna desperata
    Rec.: 1961; rel.: 1961

  25. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9415 / DL 7 9415 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Instrumental music from the Courts of Queen Elizabeth and King James
    Rec.: 1961; rel.: 1962

  26. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9416 / DL 7 9416 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Spanish medieval music
    Rec.: 1962; rel.: 1962

  27. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9418 / DL 7 9418 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Medieval English Carols and Italian Dances
    Rec.: 1962; rel.: 1962

  28. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9419 / DL 7 9419 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Renaissance Festival Music - Flemish Dances and Venetian Music
    Rec.: 1962; rel.: 1963

  29. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9420 / DL 7 9420 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Ludwig Senfl - Composer to the Court and Chapel of Emperor Maximilian I
    Rec.: 1963; rel.: 1964

  30. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9421 / DL 7 9421 [LP, mono/stereo]
    It was a lover and his lass - Music of Shakespeare's time
    Rec.: 1963; rel.: 1964

  31. Decca DXA 187 / DXSA 7 187 [LP, mono/stereo]
    The Play of Herod
    Rec.: 1964; rel.: 1964

  32. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9424 / DL 7 9424 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Renaissance Bands
    Rec.: 1965; rel.: 1965

  33. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9425 / DL 7 9425 [LP, mono / stereo]
    Early Baroque Music of Italy
    Rec.: 1965; rel.: 1966

  34. Decca "Gold Label" DL 9428 / DL 7 9428 [LP, mono/stereo]
    Florentine Music
    Rec.: 1966; rel.: 1967

  35. Decca "Gold Label" DL 7 9431 [LP, stereo]
    Ah Sweet Lady - The Romance of Medieval France
    Rec.: 1967; rel.: 1967

  36. Decca "Gold Label" DL 7 9434 [LP, stereo]
    The Kynge's Musicke
    Rec.: 1968; rel.: 1968

  37. Decca "Gold Label" DL 7 9435 [LP, stereo]
    Petrucci - First Printer of Music
    Rec.: 1968; rel.: 1969

  38. Decca "Gold Label" DL 7 9436 [LP, stereo]
    Music of the Spanish Theater in the Golden Age
    Rec.: 1969; rel.: 1969

  39. Decca "Gold Label" DL 7 9438 [LP, stereo]
    Medieval Roots
    Rel.: ??

    Decca DL 7 9174 [LP, stereo]
    Anne of the Thousand Days
    Rel.: 1970

    Horizon

    1968
    (Total recording = 1)

    Horizon DL 34 541 [LP]
    Music for a Medieval Day - Music of the cloister, cathedral, court, marketplace, and countryside
    Rec.: 1957-1968; rel.: 1968

    Musical Heritage Society

    1973
    (Total original recording = 1)

  40. Musical Heritage Society MHS 1953/4 [LP, mono / stereo]
    Marco da Gagliano - La Dafne
    Rec.: 1973 & rel.: 1974 (?)

  41. Melodya Recordings

    1964 (Total original recordings = 3)

  42. Melodya C10 23417 002 [LP]
    Pro Musica I - Ensemble of Old Music: Live recordings of outstanding Musicians - G. Dufay, A. Agricola, H. Brumel, H. Isaac, J. Despréz
    Rec.: 1964; rel.: 1986

  43. Melodya C10 23415 008 [LP]
    Pro Musica II - Ensemble of Old Music: Live recordings of outstanding Musicians - G. Gabrieli, T. Susato, L. Viadana, H.L.Hassler, M. Praetorius
    Rec.: 1964; rel.: 1986

  44. Melodya C10 23413 003 [LP]
    Pro Musica III - Ensemble of Old Music: Live recordings of outstanding Musicians - C. Monteverdi, G. Frescobaldi
    Rec.: 1964; rel.: 1986


PART II

Re-editions (CD, Video and Laserdic)

  1. MCA D2 10102 [CDx2]
    The Play of Daniel - The Play of Herod
    Rel.: 1991 (no longer available, may 2001)

  2. Millennium Classics UMD 80 565 [CD]
    Praetorius - Susato: Renaissance Dances
    Rel.: 1999

  3. National Educational Television WOM-21 [video]
    The Renaissance Band
    Rec.: 1965

  4. Rykodisc TCD1056 [CD]
    English Medieval Christmas Carols
    Rel.: 1997

  5. Universal Studios [Video, VHS]
    Anne of the Thousand Days
    Rel.: 1986

  6. VAI A 1258 [CD]
    Music of John Blow and Henry Purcell - John Blow: Ode on the death of Henry Purcell - Mr Henry Purcell: Songs & Airs
    Russell Oberlin et al.
    Rel.: 2006

  7. Audio tape - KPFK Studio [cassette]
    Conversation betwwen William Malloch and Noah Greenberg
    Rec.: ca 1964


....And thanks to all contributors....
Todd McComb <mccomb@medieval.org>
Joel Bresler
John Howell
James Gollin
David H. Green
Mitchell Mularz
Donald Rice
Jeff Vilencia
Joanna Morris
Jon Stringer
Fernando Acosta
Eriko Aoyama
Darlene Trieste
I am waiting.... for others...

Pierre-F. Roberge

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