November 5: William Conrad Gaisberg (1918)

William “Will” Gaisberg was an early recording engineer. The son of German immigrants, Gaisberg was a Washington, D.C. native. In his youth, Gaisberg, his parents, and several siblings were all baptized at Epiphany. He worked for a time with the Berliner Gram-O-Phone Company in Canada before coming to work at Emile Berliner’s laboratory in Washington with his brother and William Darby. It was during this period in America that Berliner imparted his knowledge of the secrets of disc record-making to these young men.  Within a few years the three of them moved to Europe, where, as recording engineers, they became the most important figures in The Gramophone Company’s staff. Gaisberg’s enthusiasm and enterprising nature led him to take over many of his brother’s duties, which included managing and leading the third recording tour of India.

Despite the Gramophone Company’s dominant position and success in the talking machine and disc record trade in Asia, it could not rest on its laurels of achievement, as American recording companies began making great advances. This motivated Gaisberg to record artists of a higher repute and achieve a product of a much higher quality. In 1910 at the age of 33, William became manager of the Recording department, where he provided a vital link between the head office and its overseas territories. In October 1918, a month before the Armistice was signed, the Gramophone Company became involved in a project to record the sound of the war. The Company elected to send Gaisberg to the Western Front. By the time the recording was completed, the war was over. Gaisberg had been slightly gassed during the expedition, and fell victim to the flu pandemic and tragically died a month later in November 1918.

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