One Hundred Years Of The Yellow Label

Six programmes in which Stephen Johnson explores the history of the Deutsche Grammophon record label.


01From 1898 To The Present Day19981024

In 1887, Emil Berliner patented his new invention - the gramophone.

By 1898, he had scraped together the money to open the world's first record-pressing factory.

By 1902, Berliner and producer Fred Gaisberg had discovered an artist who was prepared to commit his voice to the recording process.

Enrico Caruso sung into a horn in a hotel room and became the first artist whose reputation was established by the gramophone.

02Sound In The Darkness: 1933-4519981031

Stephen Johnson remembers a dark period in Deutsche Grammophon's history, when Nazi influence on the company grew.

By 1941, DG had released a version of Bach's `St Matthew Passion' with Aryanised words and had acceded to Gestapo instructions forbidding them to produce recordings of Jewish artists.

But some employees hid recordings by such artists to save them from destruction.

03World War To Cold War: 1945-6319981107

The years 1945 to 1963 were as crucial to Deutsche Grammophon as they were to Germany as a whole.

Faced with national ruin - both political and financial - Deutsche Grammophon's presence was crucial in the rebuilding of Germanic culture and society.

Stephen Johnson visits Berlin, where, in 1945, following permission from American High Command, DG resumed production of 78s on the six presses that had not been destroyed by the air raids.


Stephen Johnson investigates Archiv, the sister label set up by DG in 1947 to pioneer the specialised recording of early music.

05The Golden Years: 1963-8019981121

From the 1960s onwards, DG became the international recording company.

Technology had reached its high point within the LP era, and before the microphones came some of the finest artists ever recorded.

Stephen Johnson opens the treasure chest of music and talks to the artists, critics and those involved with the company during that golden age.

With music by Bernstein, Beethoven, Ligeti and Grieg.

06 LASTDecline - And Fall?19981128

By 1979, DG's financial position was fragile: despite a fine catalogue, sales figures were poor.

Salvation arrived in the shape of the CD.

Stephen Johnson asks what the future holds for Deutsche Grammophon, with music by Brahms, Liadov and Ravel.