Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Steve Epstein, March 4, 1999

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Background

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Partial Transcript: It is, um, March fourth, 1999.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses his background in classical and jazz music recording.

Keywords: Associate producers; Broadway show tunes; Classical music; Columbia Masterworks; Company; Editors; Executive producers; Gershwin, George; Gershwin, Ira; Grammy Awards; Hofstra University; Jazz; Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra; Marsalis, Wynton (Artist); Music; Music editing; Music editors; Orchestras; Producers; Producing; Sony; Sony Classical; Strings; Vaughan, Sarah (Artist); Violinists; Woodwinds; Wynton Marsalis: Hot House Flowers (Album)

Subjects: CBS Masterworks digital masters; Columbia Records, Inc.; Epstein, Steve; Gershwin, George, 1898-1937.; History of science and technology; Hofstra College; Jazz musicians.; Los Angeles Philharmonic Association; Marsalis, Wynton, 1961-; Music; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Violin

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:05:18 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: I mean, uh, music is more, you know, uh, uh, uh, I think a part of me than technique.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses his childhood and his early experimentation with sound engineering.

Keywords: Albums; Casadesus, Robert (Artist); Columbia Masterworks; Concertos; Consoles (mixing); Consoles (recording); Epstein, Steve; High fidelity; Monaural; Mono; Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (Artist); Phonographs; Speakers; Stereo; Television; Television (models) Monoadmiral

Subjects: Casadesus, Robert, 1899-1972; Columbia Records, Inc.; Epstein, Steve; High-fidelity sound systems.; History of science and technology; Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791.; Music; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:08:13 - Classical recording technique

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Partial Transcript: See, so, so the question of tech, tech, technology and technique, uh, I know many producers, many classical producers perhaps don't have or share that kind of technical interest, as I do.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses the specific techniques employed in recording classical music.

Keywords: Audio engineers; Classical music; Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); Concerts; Epstein, Steve; Hofstra University; Lab technicians; Long Island (N.Y.); Mastering; Microphones, placement of; Music producers; Radio; Radio stations; Recorders tape; Recorders, tape (models): Revox; Sonic; Synthesizers; Technical; Techniques

Subjects: Classical music radio programs.; Columbia Broadcasting System; Epstein, Steve; History of science and technology; Hofsta College; Microphone; Music; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Synthesizer music.

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:10:46 - Prerequisites of a good engineer in the 1960s and early 1970s

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Partial Transcript: That's all you needed at that time, to, be as, to be able to get the kind of job, um, I'm, I'm trying to sort of, figure out what, you know, how, um, the prerequisites for getting the job changed.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses the prerequisites required to be hired as a sound engineer in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Keywords: Background; Beethoven, Ludwig van (Artist); Columbia Masterworks; Editing; Epstein, Steve; Front, Mike; Music; Music editors; Music producers; Resume; Serkin, Rudolf (Artist); Shepherd, Tom; Tape

Subjects: Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827; Columbia Broadcasting System, inc.; Columbia Records, Inc.; Epstein, Steve; History of science and technology; Music; Serkin, Rudolf, 1903-1991; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:13:13 - Invention of the long-playing record

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Partial Transcript: Um, yeah, it's interesting that you say that one of the requirements was that you have a musical background.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses the invention of the long playing record.

Keywords: Avakian, George; Bachman, William; Botsford, Ward; Epstein, Steve; Goldmark, Peter; High Fidelity Magazine; Miller, Mitch; Record; Records, kinds of: long-playing (LP); Savory, William; Scott, Howard; The National Academy of Science; Wallerstein, Edward

Subjects: Avakian, George; Bachman, William S.; Botsford, Ward; Epstein, Steve; Goldmark, Peter, 1906-1977; History of science and technology; Miller, Mitch; Music; Scott, Howard; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:15:46 - Interest in classical music

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Partial Transcript: At the time you entered the business, um, how much awareness did you have of other parts of your company, for instance, the other, um, musical sections? Or were you pretty much, you know, in your own world there on the classical side?

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses his interest in classical music and his work with Goddard Lieberson.

Keywords: Beatles, the (Artist); Broadway show tunes; Classical music; Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); Columbia Masterworks; Editor; Jazz; Lieberson, Goddard; Music; My Fair Lady (Musical); Popular music

Subjects: Beatles.; Columbia Records, Inc.; Epstein, Steve; History of science and technology; Lieberson, Goddard, 1911-1977; Music; Musicals; Popular music.; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:17:29 - Changes in technology

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Partial Transcript: Can you think of, I mean, lots of things have changed, I'm sure, it's, it's how many years, twenty, more than twenty-five years.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein talks about the changes that have occurred since he began audio engineering in the early 1970s.

Keywords: 8 track; Analog; Audio devices; Brighten; Changes; Classical music; Compression; Digital; Digital age; Effects; Eight track; Epstein, Steve; Equalizers; Graphic equalizers; Harmonizers; High fidelity; Memory; Microphone technique; Microphones; Microphones and balance; Multi-tracking; Music producers; Noise; Note; Orchestras; Parametric equalizers; Peripheral; Pitch; Processing; Products; Quartets; Record companies; Recorders tape; Records; Reverberation; Signals; Sound; Tape; Technology; Voice

Subjects: Epstein, Steve; High-fidelity sound systems.; History of science and technology; Microphone; Music; Orchestra; Quartet; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; String quartet.

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:23:43 - Direct to disc recording / perfectionism in recording and performing

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Partial Transcript: Then, over the course of the years, uh, just before digital, uh, some record companies, uh, were doing, we weren't really doing them, we were doing, you know, direct, direct to disc.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses direct to disc recording and how the changes in recording methods has de-emphasized the pursuit of perfectionism in musical performance.

Keywords: Chamber groups; Chamber music; Cleveland (Ohio); Concerts; Direct to disc; Disc; Electric guitar; Epstein, Steve; Fine, Bob; Fine, Wilma Cozart; Gould, Glenn (Artist); Mastering; Microphones; Mistakes; Music; Music editing; Music producers; Paul, Les; Performance; Pianist; Pianos; Renner, Jack; Safe; Scores; Slow speed mastering; Splice; Stylus; Symphonic; Symphonies; Telarc Records

Subjects: Chamber music; Chamber music groups; Chamber music.; Cleveland, (Ohio); Electric guitar.; Epstein, Steve; Fine, Bob; Gould, Glenn.; History of science and technology; Microphone; Music; Paul, Les.; Piano; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Stylus; Symphony

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:31:00 - Education and classical music

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Partial Transcript: You know, everybody has a different range of the things that they hear in recordings.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses the dearth of classical music education in the United States.

Keywords: Audio recording; Business; Classical music; Conductors; Economics; Education; Epstein, Steve; Hearing; Interpretation; Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts; Listening; Money; Parents; Popular music; Problems; Realities; Records; Repertoire; Saturation; Sports; Subjective; Television

Subjects: Bernstein, Leonard; Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990.; Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990. Young people's concerts; Education; Education.; Epstein, Steve; History of science and technology; Music; Music educator; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Television.

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:35:30 - David Sarser's recordings

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Partial Transcript: Just--I, I had a thought when you were mentioning this thing about, you know, the repertoire that's being recorded now.

Segment Synopsis: Epstein and the interviewer discuss the recordings of sound engineer David Sarser.

Keywords: 8 track; Ampex Electric Corporation; Carnegie Hall; Catalogues; Conductors; Debussy, Claude-Achille (Artist); Eight Track; Ellington, Edward Kennedy "Duke" (Artist); Epstein, Steve; Harlem (New York, N.Y.); King Records; Monk, Charles (Artist); Monteux, Pierre (Artist); NBC Symphony Orchestra; National Broadcasting Company (NBC); New York (N.Y.); Orchestras; Paul, Les; Rhythm and blues (R&B); Sarser, David; Sony; Sony Records; The Julliard School; Thorn, Oakley; Thorne, Oakley; Toscanini Memorial Concert; Toscanini, Arturo (Artist); Violinists; Violins; Walter, Bruno

Subjects: Ampex corporation; Carnegie Hall (New York, N.Y.); Debussy, Claude, 1862-1918.; Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974.; Epstein, Steve; Harlem (New York, N.Y.); History of science and technology; Monk, Charles Vinton; Monteux, Pierre, 1875-1964; Music; NBC Symphony Orchestra; National Broadcasting Company; Paul, Les.; Rhythm and blues music.; Sony BMG Music Entertainment; Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.; Sony Music Studios; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Toscanini, Arturo, 1867-1957.; Violin; Walter, Bruno, 1876-1962

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179
00:38:31 - The challenges of preserving audio recordings

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Partial Transcript: Well, I mean, th, there are, I mean, I, we, we, you know, we have the greatest catalogue in the world and we're reissuing our things--

Segment Synopsis: Epstein discusses the challenges in preserving tape sound recordings.

Keywords: Archives; Compression; Digital audio tape (DAT); Epstein, Steve; Hard discs; Mini-discs; Schaap, Phil; Tape

Subjects: Epstein, Steve; Historic preservation.; History of science and technology; Music; Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.; Sony Music Studios; Sound engineers; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 43.2294, -74.2179