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Men of Empire is a cross-indexed collection of some 276 recordings by 38 male singers of the British Empire who were born in the 19th century. The most extensively represented is Peter Dawson with 70 titles. Some singers are heard in only one or two selections, where the objective is simply to give an audio example of a name you may encounter in reading but for which you have no other audible reference.
Men of Empire began the Audio Encyclopedia project, planned to extend to a comprehensive treatment of the audio record of the past century. The oldest singer on the disc is Sir Charles Santley, born in 1834 and Gounod's inspiration for "Even bravest heart may swell." The youngest is John Brownlee, barely under the wire with a birth date in 1900, but represented by two French selections which show a very different aspect of his talent from the readily available recordings. In between are artists you know and some you will feel you need to know - and others whose fame will be even more mysterious after you hear them. One unique element is sixty recordings of John McCormack as his art was solidifying: most of his titles for Odeon made between 1906 and 1909. 

The Audio Encyclopedia took a year for a team to produce: Harold Byrnes to select and pitch the bulk of the recordings and to generate the documentation, others for the material on Fraser Gange, and me (Mike Ricther) for editing and production. We are all excited about the result and trust that you will be as well.

Clips with Descriptions

The first volume of the Audio Encyclopedia, Men of Empire really needed to be represented by selections from a great English oratorio - in this case, Handel's Samson. The selection is "Honour and arms", a thrilling rallying cry. The three exemplars may not be well known outside the UK, but they were names to conjure with in their day for reasons which should be apparent from the selections here. 

Malcolm McEachern was one of the deepest basses recorded, singing to a low B-flat! Had he not had an upper range of comparable quality and security, this baritone rle might have been a problem. 

Peter Dawson was one of the most prolific recording artists of the first decades of the twentieth century. Blessed with a bass-baritone voice of exceptional appeal, he sang (and composed) under a bewildering array of names. Frazer Gange was a Scot who spent the latter half of his career singing and teaching in the United States. This selection is from the rehearsal for a performance when the baritone was 68.

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