Gramophone industry in Usti nad Labem

At the end of the first decade of the 20th century phonograph records became more desirable trading commodity. The images were compressed on a single-sided boards 17 cm with brand “Berliner Record” based in Hanover, by the company “Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft”. It was first pressing facility in Europe, run by the brother of the inventor of gramophone Joseph Berliner. At the beginning  these images showed the message “approved for the gramophone.”

In 1911 they started production of  “people´s” plates with trade mark “ZONOPHONE RECORD” sold by cheap prices around 1-2 crowns. Plates were not recorded here just pressed from imported stempers or waxes. Shortly before the FIRST WAR  they produced a new brand “Schallplatte Grammophon” .A year later, the production was finished due to lack of  material. The main component, the Indian livestock shellac resin, was for Austria-Hungary embargoed by the British government.

Production and sales of gramophone records in Hanover was financially hard because of massive increase of Austrian import duties. In 1909, the director Joseph Berliner decided to move and established new company directly in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. For good accessibility and unexpensive energy sources was chosen as a  headquarters  of the new entity Usti nad Labem. The new company was named “Austrian record label s. R. O., Usti nad Labem.”. The factory was build in Kramoly  almost at the same place where is today´s football field. The production was started in 1910 and key products  were 25 cm plates by trade mark “Gramophone CONCERT RECORD”, which were sold for 2-4 Austrian crown and 30 cm plates by brand “Gramophone MONARCH RECORD” for 4-16 crowns. These plates used traditional logo of Berliner companies –Dog listening the voice of his master (His master voice).

The production in Ústí enterprise was restored after the war in 1919. Because the society uses antimonarchistic tone in the New Republic, they changed the name  on “Gramophone CONCERT RECORD” instead of the pre-war “Gramophone MONARCH RECORD”. A little  later the company was taken over by the british “The Gramophone Company” based in Hayes and in 1924 they changed the name  on “HIS MASTER ‘S VOICE” , logo  remained the same. A couple years later they probably for business reasons also produced plates called “Gramola RECORD.”. During the time of great economic crisis in USA the Columbia company bankrupted and the trade mark  for Europe got UK “The Gramophone Company, until the end of 1938 in Usti also were produced records with trade mark “COLUMBIA”.

Subsidiary in Ústí produced from 1920 to 1938  approximately 12,000 different recordings, which was made not only for domestic market but also for Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Palestine and North Africa. “The Gramophone Company” had a huge catalogue of well known artist focusing on opera singers and classical music.All the recordings had a high technical level. On domestic  market  during the thirties was “The Gramophone Company”  beated by “Ultraphon” new czechoslovak company which better meet with demand of the people. Among the most prestigeous and popular recordings were in 1930  the first complete recording of Smetana’s “My Country” played by  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted byVáclav Talich,  in 1933 the first complete picture “The Bartered Bride” performed by artists of the National Theatre in Prague  conducted by Otakar Odstrcil,  In the occasion of 10th anniversary of Czechoslovakia “The Gramophone Company” published on two plates speeches of President T.G. Masaryk.

In 1938 the British managemnt transfered the production to Prague because they predicted Nazi occupation of Usti.. The factory object was used in 1939-1945 by “Siemens – Halske”.

In  summer  1945,  “The Gramophone Company” planned to renew production in Usti . but based on the analysis of political development after WW II they finally decided not to restore the factory.This analyses was found in company archive in Hayes..And this was the end of gramophone industry in Ústí.