Warsaw, Berlin, London: Acid, Ladies and a stiff wrist (Fred Gaisberg’s diaries of 110 years ago. Continued)

After failing in his attempt to record the voice of Czar Nicholas in Russia, Fred Gaisberg and side kick William Sinkler Darby began the long journey back to London.
They stopped off in Warsaw where they found a “finer set of artists than we had met in St Petersburg” to record but found them more worldly wise than the Russians; “they were suspicious of us and made us pay in advance before they sang. The artists in Russia were more trusting.” He recorded Krusceniski, who was a huge European star at the time, on this trip. You can hear a recording of her from a couple of years later on this video.

On 20th April 1900 after a long day recording Gaisberg was awoken “by a terrible battering at the door” of his hotel room. “The room below was all dripping with what might be blood or something deadly and was falling on the face of the sleeping occupant” Gaisberg had a suite and used one of the rooms as a “Lab” for processing the recordings that he had been making whilst in Warsaw. Unfortunately one of the containers “filled with old acid had sprung a leak and the floor was flooded. We had the disagreeable task of sopping it up in our night-shirts and expecting the manager up every moment to pitch us out bag and baggage.” when they checked out several days later they found 14 Roubles added to their bill as “charges for repairing the room.” No further mention was made of the poor man in the room below who was doused in acid!

On 23rd April 1900 the recording partnership of Darby and Gaisberg dissolved itself for this trip. Darby headed to Vienna and Gaisberg took to Berlin where nothing much happened except he records “the acquaintance of a little French lady whose sentimental propensities robbed me of two hours sleep on the steamer” ……!!

He returned to London on the 26th April 1900 where, a couple of days later, he managed to fall of his bike and this hindered his writing up of the final part of the diaries of the 1900 trip to Russia “If the writing is unintelligible it is because I strained my wrist in tumbling from the wheel and it is very stiff.”

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