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Beka Recording Expeditions into Asia

On October 5th, 1905, Heinrich Bumb, director of Beka Records left Berlin for a recording expedition which took him to Turkey, Egypt, India, Burma, Singapore, Indonesia, China and Japan. He brought home more than 1500 recordings which were pressed in Berlin and shipped back to customers in Asia.

Bumb's recordings are irreplaceable documents of Asian musical traditions a century ago, but unfortunately few of them survived today. The only European scholar who realized the value of these recordings at the time they made was Erich Moritz von Hornbostel, director of the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv from 1905–1933, who was able to obtain some sample copies directly from the factory.

Today the archive has the largest surviving collection of early Asian Beka records. In April 2014, the "Abteilung für Musikethnologie, Medientechnik und Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv, Ethonologisches Museum Berlin" and the "Gesellschaft für historische Tonträger (GHT)" organized an expert meeting in Berlin to discuss these recordings and the possibility of tracing additional copies in private collections.

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