Riga is a city with a long history of music recording. The first record factory started operating in Riga in 1902. At that time, it was the only such factory in the vast Russian Empire. Thirty years later – in 1931 – Helmars Rudzītis establishes the record factory “Bellaccord Electro”. This enabled local musicians to make recordings in their homeland.
The fate of “Bellaccord Electro” was closely linked to that of Latvia itself, and is reflected in the varying images of the labels (e.g., the word “Sonderklasse” printed on the label during the German occupation), and in the changes of the factory name and owners. After the Soviet occupation the factory was nationalised.
The digital collection of Latvia’s historical sound recordings takes as its basis the production of “Bellaccord Electro”, as well as shellac records issued in Riga after World War II. Records of other companies are included if they contain Latvian music or performers. This collection aims to reflect and document the music scene of Latvia in the first half of the 20th century in a wide variety of genres.
Most of the collection is copyright free, but about 1/3 of the recordings are still under copyright, and currently available only in the Latvian library network. New recordings will be regularly added to the collection during the next few years.