Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Voice Of Edwin Booth

Edwin Booth was the son of the famous tragedian who built Tudor Hall—Junius Brutus Booth. Junius, not wanting his children to follow in his profession, eventually anointed Edwin to carry the torch of his theatrical legacy, as it became evident that Edwin inherited his father's talent.

I don't know about you, but when I visit Tudor Hall—in my mind I picture the Booth family and the great groundbreaking changes they made to American theatre. I'd love to travel back in time, sit in the audience and experience their powerful performances. To me, the Booths are the first family of American theatre. What did they sound like? What kind of accents did they have?

To our great fortune, there is an actual wax cylinder recording of Edwin Booth that exists. Edwin, who became the foremost actor of the 19th century and is said to be the greatest Hamlet of all time, recorded some speeches in 1890 at the establishment he founded—The Players Club in New York City.

The recording is scratchy and hard to hear, but it is Edwin's voice. You can get a feel of what he sounded like. What a treasure. You can listen to this recording of Edwin reading Othello by clicking this link: http://www.archive.org/details/OthelloByEdwinBooth1890 When you get to the site, the audio is to the upper right. Enjoy.

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