RIP Ray Dolby: yes, I still have cassette tapes!

Ray Dolby has died.

I know him for one thing, basically: invention of his noise reduction system, so valuable back in the days when almost of my music was on cassette tape (I had LPs also) and I was inseparable from my Sony Walkman.

I still have a cassette tape deck with Dolby B, C, and S. I don’t use it any more because I have long since given away almost all of my cassette tapes, both prerecorded and recorded off radio, LPs, or CDs (before I finally got a CD player late in college).

Here are some of the few cassette tapes I still own, simply because I don’t have LPs or CDs of these recordings by Sviatoslav Richter. I don’t remember which music store I walked out of with these finds way back in the early 1990s! But it was a real treasure finding a variety of Schubert performances by Richter. For example, one of these Monitor label cassette tapes has an old performance of Schubert’s unfinished C major piano sonata, D. 840 that differs considerably from his later performance that I have a CD of.

Sviatoslav Richter on cassette tapes

I did some research. Apparently the Monitor release is of a 1961 performance and the later recording is from 1979.

I like both performances, but the extreme slowness of the later recording makes it more eccentric, if in some ways deeper. But they really are quite different.

Here is the 1961 on YouTube, sounding better than my noisy cassette tape ever did:

In any case, RIP, Ray Dolby: you improved the listening experience of countless cassette tape users for years!

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