Howard H Scott: Record producer who was part of the team that created the LP

 

Howard H Scott was a celebrated record producer and the last surviving member of the team at Columbia Records that successfully developed the long-playing record under conditions of total secrecy in the 1940s.

The team produced what became the de facto universal technical standard for the recording and dissemination of music over the succeeding 35 years.

Howard Hillison Scott was born in 1920 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of a judge. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a BA in Music in 1941 then studied at the Juilliard School, but he was drafted into the army in May 1942 and was posted to Europe. On leaving with the rank of captain he enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music under an enlightened American scheme for US personnel awaiting repatriation.

In 1946 he returned to Juilliard, but soon became one of Goddard Lieberson's "young men" at CBS and became part of the secret team developing the long-playing record for Columbia Masterworks. He became Music Co-ordinator because he was the only one who could read scores. Working with engineer Paul Gordon before the days of tape he developed the method of cross-fading four-minute 78rpm sides into continuous soundtracks. His initial target was to produce 100 LPs, and it saw him, even though newly married, sleeping in the office during much of the project.

He participated in the now legendary June 1948 press launch at New York's Waldorf Astoria: the press were faced with a pile of 78s eight-foot high side-by-side with their LP equivalents, 100 discs 15 inches high. It was a sensation. Scott reminisced with relish that the president of NBC, their major commercial competitor, "berated his research people ... and left in a huff."

Perhaps the key to Scott's later career was his remarkable versatility and catholic musical tastes: he produced recording sessions in classical, jazz, Broadway and popular repertoire. His daughter remembers him as the "ultimate Anglophile" and he was many times the guest of Anthony Pollard, owner and editor of Gramophone magazine, whom he met in 1949. Pollard remembers him warmly as "very full of life, an incredibly amusing character, given to practical jokes." Scott's later handlebar moustache was modelled on Pollard's.

The launch of the LP was overwhelmingly successful and Scott became head of Columbia's team in New York, which in four years released over 1,000 albums. During this time he also took night classes at New York University School of Business Administration, and in 1952 he became Columbia Masterworks' recording director and senior producer. Working with a galaxy of stellar musicians and most of the leading American orchestras, he produced between 75 and 100 albums a year for the Columbia, Harmony and Epic labels.

Notable among his orchestras was the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy, where his first production was Honegger's dramatic oratorio Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher with Vera Zorina, Lieberson's wife, in the title role. In 1960 he was the producer when Leopold Stokowski returned to Philadelphia after 20 years and made two records. Other major recordings included Bruno Walter's Beethoven Choral Symphony in 1953, Shostakovich with Dimitri Mitropoulos, Bernstein, Beecham, Cantelli, Igor Stravinsky, and Robert Craft conducting the complete works of Webern on four LPs. Artists became close personal friends, none closer than the violinist Isaac Stern.

Scott also engaged on a range of freelance activities, advising and producing television series including Bernstein's Young People's Concerts, the Victor Borge Specials and The Telephone Half Hour Special. Reinforcing his interest in music by living composers, he acted as recording director and producer for the Louisville Orchestra's series of LPs.

With a dramatic change of repertoire he then became Director of Albums for MGM records in their pop album department (1961-63), followed by two years creating and producing music and jingles for radio and television at Ted Bates Inc. He returned to mainstream recording in 1965 as producer at RCA Red Seal with a roster of leading artists. His recording of Morton Gould and the Chicago Symphony in Ives' First Symphony won the 1966 Grammy Award as Best Classical Album.

After three years Scott moved to AA Records, whose label Golden Records specialised in children's repertoire, producing some 50 LPs, 20 of them recorded in London. The label featured celebrity voices including Danny Kaye and Alfred Hitchcock. The notable releases during Scott's time were the Sesame Street book and record and the Muppet Alphabet Album.

After four years he moved to Belwin Mills as Multimedia Director, a company producing AV materials for education and business. In 1973 he became executive manager of the Rochester Philharmonic, an orchestra teetering on bankruptcy and closure. He revitalised the orchestra and its finances. After three years he briefly went freelance, his activities now focused on Mexico, working for the Casals Festival of Mexico, with initiatives including the construction of a recording studio.

His second long-lasting appointment came in 1977 when he became a music publisher as Vice President, Performance Division with the music publisher G Schirmer Inc of New York. He promoted a large catalogue with a notable strand of living American composers. After nearly nine years he went back to CBS Classical for seven years to remix his former recordings for CD. The catalogue, taken over by Sony, largely remains available.

Scott's last years were touched by tragedy. His first wife, Elsa, died in September 1987 at the age of 61, but his subsequent wives, Anne Gillespie and Patti Huey also predeceased him. His role in the history of recorded music is secure.

Howard Hillison Scott, record producer and music publisher; born 31 May 1920; married 1948 Elsa Cecilia Goodman (died 1987; one son, one daughter), 1990 Anne Gillespie (died 1999), 2005 Patti Huey (died 2010); died: Reading, Pennsylvania 22 September 2012.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003