Maestro Sues Urania Label
PARIS, Dec. 19.-Wilhelm Furtwangler filed suit in civil court here Tuesday (15) against Urania Records to stop the firm from distributing copies of an LP featuring the noted German conductor in a performance of the Beethoven Third Symphony. The disk, manufactured in the United States, was processed from a taped reading originally made for a radio broadcast.
The case, perhaps the first of its kind here, is indicative of the stiffened attitude of artists and diskeries in connection with “unauthorized” recordings. Only last week, the International Federation of the Phonograph Industry warned its members to scrutinize imported tapes with particular care (The Billboard, December 19).
Furtwangler is under exclusive contract to HMV. But a Urania spokesman said their defense will be based on the claim that the conductor was not under contract to any diskery at the time he cut the tape. Furtwangler further stated he did not even remember conducting the performance issued in the Urania disking. He is asking the court for an injunction and damages.
Should Furtwangler win his case, the decision would not affect distribution of the LP in the United States, observers declare.
Urania Ordered To Remove Name Of Furtwangler
PARIS, Dec. 26. —Urania will have to remove the name of Wilhelm Furtwangler from a recording of the Beethoven Third Symphony, which the conductor claims he cannot recognize as his own. This was the ruling of a civil court here this week closing an action brought a week ago by Furtwangler (The Billboard, December 26). Urania’s French distributor, Thalia Disques, declared the recording was made by Furtwangler in a German studio in 1944. The decision does not affect distribution of the recording in the United States.
Furtwangler Sues Urania on Recording
Hassle May Clarify Artists’ Rights Vs.
Mfg. and Bear on Tapes From East Germany
NEW YORK, March 20. – Orchestra conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler this week brought suit in New York Supreme Court to halt the sale of a Urania recording bearing his name as conductor. The legal hassle may result in a new clarification of the rights of artist vs. record manufacturer and bear directly on the future of recordings made from tapes acquired from the Eastern zone of Germany.
The recording involved in the controversy is a reading of the Beethoven Third Symphony, promoted by Urania as a performance by Furtwangler and the Vienna Philharmonic. This was apparently performed for radio use in 1944 and acquired by Urania after World War II from East German sources.
RCA Victor has also released an LP featuring the same composition, conductor and orchestra, which it acquired under terms of a reciprocal contract with Electric and Musical Industries, the British firm now holding Furtwangler under exclusive contract. They both hit the market here late last year.
In a similar case last December against a French distributor of the disputed recording, Furtwangler succeeded in having his name removed from the label and jacket.
Here, the suit by the European conductor also names as defendants 19 local record dealers who have marketed the set, in addition to the manufacturer.
Urania President Rudolf Koppl denied here yesterday (19) that he secured the tapes of the performance illegally, and he asserted that his firm was entitled to release the recording.
$4 a Minute
An exhibit attached to the Furtwangler brief contains an alleged agreement between Urania and the state broadcasting committee of Eastern Germany which was cited in the French trial. Under this pact, Urania is said to have contracted to purchase $100,000 worth of East German tapes at the rate of $4 per minute of music used. For the 40-odd minutes of the Beethoven Third, the charge, therefore, was about $140.
The complaint also contains correspondence between the litigants, showing. Furtwangler turned down an offer of royalties from Urania for use of the tape. The conductor then was under exclusive contract to EMI.
Furtwangler also claims that the Urania disk is not representative of his best effort. Under his EMI pact, the conductor must approve takes and receives 10 per cent of the retail price in royalties.
In a statement yesterday, Koppl claimed that his firm acquired the tapes “i , competition with other … firms who would have released this same material if we had not. Because the United States and Germany were at war at the time the tapes were made, and Dr. Furtwangler an alien, the recordings could not be registered in any way that entitled him to copyright protection. This fact also freed us from any obligation to pay Dr. Furtwangler any royalties. However, we offered to pay him the same royalties that he receives under his contract with EMI.”
The legal firm representing Furtwangler is Dwight. Royall, Harris, Koegel & Casey.
Allegro ‘Ring’ LP’s Authority Disputed
NEW YORK, March 27. -A new case involving records made from tapes of disputed authority broke into the open here this week. It followed hard on the heels of a court complaint by Wilhelm Furtwangler that a Urania LP carried his name as conductor illegally (The Billboard, March 27).
The new case brewing involves a set of 21 LP’s of the complete “Ring of the Nibelungs” by Wagner, released a month ago by Allegro Records. The four operas in the set were recorded by the Dresden State Opera Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Dr. Fritz Schreiber, according to the labels on the disks.
But soprano Regina Resnik claims that she recognized her voice in the recording, and others charge that the voices of Ramon Vinay and Hans Hotter are also identifiable. All participated in a performance of the “Ring” at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany last summer. The performances were broadcast.
Eli Oberstein, head of the Record Corporation of America, which manufactures Allegro disks, said yesterday (26) that he had not yet been informed by any complainant that the records were not as represented. He said the tapes in question were secured from a Berlin source from whom he had purchased “over $700,000 worth of recordings” during the past three years. None had been disputed in the past, he asserted.
Oberstein declared he would “withdraw the recordings immediately” if they were proven to be illegally acquired. He said, howver, that he would suffer a loss in the “high five figures” in such an event.
The Furtwangler-Urania case, meanwhile, has been put over until April 12, when court hearing will be held. Urania has retained attorney Abraham Lowenthal to argue its case. He said yesterday that he is prepared to prove that the Furtwangler tape was of a legitimate performance and legiti.. mately acquired by Urania.
Gieseking Files $100,000 Suit Against Urania
NEW YORK, April 17. -Pianist Walter Gieseking filed a $100,000 suit against Urania Records this week and asked the New York Supreme Court to enjoin the record company from issuing disks bearing his name. In a similar action a few weeks ago, Urania was slapped with a complaint by conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler.
Aside from the alleged damage done to the two artists, the cases are being watched carefully by tradesters for the industry precedent they may set, regardless of which way the decision ultimately goes.
Observers note that the case may throw new light on the issue of artist exclusivity. The basic question being argued, they assert, is whether or not an artist can in fact promise and insure exclusive use of his performances to a record company. Upon such a belief rests a substantial prop of the present royalty framework.
Gieseking is currently under contract to a French subsidiary of Electric & Musical Industries. His recordings are released here by EMI’s United States subsidiary Angel Records. Prior to formation of Angel, Gieseking diskings were issued by Columbia. Much of his product is still active in the latter’s catalog.
Furtwangler, also an EMI artist, is contractually featured here on RCA Victor vinyl.
Gieseking’s complaint and supporting affidavit point to recently issued Urania LP’s carrying Schumann and Bach piano works in performances attributed to him. The pianist asserts he never authorized Urania to release any record of his, and charges that the taped performances were acquired from East German sources where they were originally made for radio broadcast.
Letters included among the papers filed with the court show that Urania offered to pay Gieseking royalties, but was turned down by the pianist, who wrote on June 9, 1953, that if unauthorized use is made of such tapes I shall take all necessary action to protect my interests.” Also carried in the supporting documents is a copy of the contract between Urania and the “State Broadcasting Committee of the German Democratic Republic” spelling out terms of the transfer of tapes to the American manufacturer.
Urania, according to this contract, pays the East German source $4 for each minute of tape mastered but takes on itself the settling of any dispute regarding artist royalties.
The Gieseking suit, prepared by the legal firm of Dwight, Roy. all, Harris, Koegel & Caskey, also names as defendants 19 New York retail stores said to have sold and advertised the records.
Abraham Lowenthal, the attorney defending. Urania, said the tapes in question were acquired legally and claimed that no law was breached by the sale of the records.
Meanwhile, the FurtwanglerUrania suit has been scheduled for court argument April 27.
GIESEKING & FURTWANGLER
Urania Counter Charges Vs. Artists Filed in Court
NEW YORK, May 8. – Legal actions brought by Wilhelm Furtwangler and Walter Gieseking against Urania Records to prevent the manufacturer from promoting LP’s giving label and cover credit to the artists, took a new turn yesterday, when Urania filed a reply and counterclaim that may eventually bring in RCA Victor as party to the hassle.
An unusual sidelight to the case is a military order signed by Soviet Marshal G. Zhukow.
Papers served earlier by the German conductor and pianist | (The Billboard, April 24) charged that Urania had no right to use their names in connection with three LP’s manufactured and offered for sale here. Furtwangler is now under exclusive contract to His Masters Voice, released here by Victor. Gieseking is signed to British Columbia, sold here under the Angel label.
In Urania’s lengthy reply, filed in New York Supreme Court, a detailed account of the events leading up to its acquisition of the disputed tapes is recounted.
Such elements as the British capture of the tapes, their transfer with other property to the Russians in exchange for an airfield, – a military order signed by Soviet Marshal’G. Zhukow, one-time chief commander of the Soviet occupation troops in Germany, and the transfer of the tapes to the “German Democratic Republic,” all play a role in the complicated legal drama.
The entire point of the Urania bundle of documents, prepared by attorney Abraham M. Lowenthal, is to prove its contention that the tapes were legally acquired, that they were studio tapes rather than “air checks” and made with the view toward their eventual use as records.
Urania’s willingness to pay royalties to Furtwangler and Gieseking is also cited, even tho the firm contends it was not required to do so.
Urania’s reply states that royalties on similar tapes were paid to artists such as soprano Erna Berger, tenor Hans Hopf, conductor – Arthur Rother and others.
In asking that the request for an injunction against the record company be dismissed, Urania also entered a counter charge that could involve Victor in the action, if it is prosecuted to its conclusion.
This phase of the dispute involves. Furtwangler alone, and not Gieseking. The German conductor, it is recalled, is claimed to be the conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic in the Beethoven Third Symphony, released as the disk in contention by Urania.
But Urania notes that Furtwangler also recorded the same work, with the same orchestra, for The Gramaphone Company, Ltd., (HMV) in 1953. The latter disk was released in the United States by Victor.
Urania now claims that by granting permission for the release of the latter disking, Furtwangler -“impaired and damaged the property or production sold by him in 1944″ (the year the Urania-acquired tape was cut).
The company further requests that Furtwangler withdraw his authority for release of the 1953 recording, be enjoined from further authorization and be required to account for all profits made from the 1953 recording.
A court hearing of the dispute is scheduled for May 17 in New York Supreme Court.
Urania, Vox, SPA Sued By Vienna Philharmonic
NEW YORK, July 10.-Attorneys representing the Vienna Philharmonic this week served papers on Urania, Vox and SPA Records, asking them to cease distribution of records made by European orchestra, or of orchestras bearing names similar to Vienna Philharmonic.
Charging unfair competition, the orchestra asks à permanent injunction against the manufacturers and damages totaling $1,000,000.
In part, the legal action parallels similar and still unresolved cases brought by conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler and pianist Walter Gieseking against Urania.
The complaint charges that Urania and Vox acquired recorded performances of the Vienna Philharmonic which they pressed and released without proper authorization. The etchings referred to were cut some years ago.
Another part of the complaint alleges that Vox and SPA engaged in unfair competition by using names similar to that of the Vienna Philharmonic on recordings made by other orchestras. Such names as the Vienna State Philharmonia are cited.
This alleged practice, the complaint contends, tends tu lead the public to believe the orchestra cut is actually the Vienna Philharmonic.
“The defendants,” states the complaint in part, “conspired together and entered into a conspiracy and agree nent among themselves and with others wherein and whereby theys Jught to deprive the plaintiff of the benefit of its business reputation, good will, names and tradenames, and to divert to themselves… the benefit of the plaintiff’s business reputation … and to deprive the plaintiff of the monies which would otherwise have accrued to the plaintiff,”
Forty-two records are mentioned in the suit, prepared for the orchestra by attorney Edward E. Colton.
Furtwangler, Berlin Phil. Leader, Dies
NEW YORK, Dec. 4.
-Wilhelm Furtwangler, world-famous conductor, died of pneumonia in a German sanitarium Tuesday (30). He was 68.
Long the permanent conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and known widely in the United States as a guest conductor and thru his many recordings, Furtwangler lived for many years under charges of collaboration with the Nazi regime. In 1948 he withdrew from a proffered post as conductor of the Chicago Symphony after a storm of protest from the public and performing artists.
His death left up in the air the leadership of a widely promoted tour here by the Berlin Philharmonic slated to begin late in February. It is expected that two other German conductors, to be named next week by Columbia Artists, will split podium chores during the 26-concert tour.
RCA Victor, meanwhile, plans to release three Furtwangler albums next month.
Promotion was originally designed to be integrated with the conductor’s appearances. The sets, under the HMV label, include a performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto, with Edwin Fischer the piano soloist; a reading of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, coupled with several overtures by the composer, and a threedisk package containing Beethoven’s opera, “Fidelio,” and his First Symphony.
Scheduled for later release is a Furtwangler performance of Wagner’s “Die Walkuere.”
Furtwangler’s death also leaves in doubt resolution of a legal action brought by the conductor against Urania Records. In the suit, Furtwangler charged unauthorized use of his recordings by the diskery, acquired by Urania from East German radio sources. The case has not yet reached the court stage.
Trial Due Soon For Gieseking Versus Urania
NEW YORK, June 4. -An early trial was promised the litigants this week in the long-pending dispute between Walter Gieseking and Urania Records. The German pianist launched his suit more than a year ago to seek to prevent the diskery from releasing allegedly unauthorized recordings. In holding out the offer of an early trial, justice McNally of New York Supreme Court also denied a temporary injunction pending a trial decision of the entire case. The justice’s ruling similarly affected pending cases by the late Wilhelm Furtwangler and the Vienna Philharmonic against Urania.
In the case of Gieseking and Furtwangler, the disputed records were made from German radio tapes. The Vienna Philharmonic has complained of the release of records by orchestras said to carry names likely to lead consumers to believe it was the ensemble featured.
Referring to the Gieseking and Furtwangler actions, Justice McNally’s decision stated, “The issues are sharply disputed and in such cases, the right to it being doubtful, injunctive relief pending the trial of issues will not lie.”
Concerning the orchestra’s complaint, the Justice declared, “The right of the plaintiff Wiener Philhamoniker to restrain the defendants from the use of certain alleged imitations of its name in the sale or distribution of phonograph records is similarly beclouded by disputed issues as to similarity and the tendency or likelihood of deception. Accordingly, the motions are denied. An early trial will be ordered at the instance of any of the parties.”
U. S. Trade Eyes French Ct.
Fine in Radio Tape Case
NEW YORK, Jan. 7. -Speculation developed here this week on the possible effect of a decision by the French courts fining Urania Records in the long-pending case against the diskery by pianist Walter Gieseking, the Vienna Philharmonic and the late conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler.
A similar action, seeking redress for alleged unauthorized recordings made from East German radio tapes, has been in the courts here for about two years.
The French judgment set a levy of about $50,000 against Urania and its Paris affiliate, according to published reports.
These reports were challenged by Urania representatives here. Abraham Lowenthal, attorney, asserted that “our information is that the judgment amount is under half the reported sum.” He added that the official court opinion had not been handed down as of Thursday (5). Lowenthal expects to be in Paris within the next few days, at which time he will check the situation personally.