Chapter 4

 4     The 45s

45s (Extended Play) are 7-inch records that turn on a turntable at the rate of 45 rpm. The material is smaller, thinner, lighter, and harder to break than that of 78s. With a big, round hole in the center, they look like donuts. RCA invented this system and they started producing 45s from February 1949. Horowitz made his first recording on a 45 at their studio in New York on May 11, 1949.


                       Two photos of 45s


 RCA also adopted the LP system invented by Columbia, and from May 10, 1950, Horowitz’s recordings were also cut on LPs (33 1⁄3 rpm). In the US, Horowitz’s new recordings on 45s were probably discontinued by the mid-1950s, but rereleases continued to be made for a while.45s (also called donut records) survived for much longer in popular music, but classical music soon discarded them, probably because the latter music is longer and often exceeds the capacity of 45s.

 Horowitz’s 45s were both new recordings and reproductions of previous recordings for 78s.

In the latter case, most 45s have the same jacket as that of their corresponding 78.

Most, but not all, of the new recordings were simultaneously released on 45s and LPs.

 The following five pieces on 45s were not released on LPs:

 Chopin Nocturne op. 72-1 (1952)

 Moszkowski Etude op. 72-6 (1950)*

 Poulenc Presto (1947)

 Scriabin Etude op. 2-1 (1950)

 Sousa/Horowitz Stars and Stripes Forever (1950)*

 * released simultaneously in the 78 format




 The two photos above are from my collection. I do not have the other three 45s, but they have now been reproduced on CD. Table 5 shows which pieces on the 45s are also on LPs and/or CDs.



Scarlatti’s sonatas L. 239 and L. 483 were recorded in 1951, and HMV (EMI) released them on a 45 in the UK. The French Label Pathé rereleased them on an LP, but no other recording companies rereleased 45s. RCA did not release them either on a 45 or on an LP. EMI made a CD containing the two pieces.

 I compiled the list of 78s and 45s in Table 5, primarily drawing on the discography by Bob McAleara as well as Johansson’s website and my own collection.

 Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 was released as a 45 in Japan, but not in the U.S. or the U.K.


                               Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in Japan


In the US, 45s were normally packaged as a boxset of two to seven discs. Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was recorded on six 45s, and the 25th anniversary recital, which consisted of seven 45s, was simultaneously released in the LP format (as two records).


  Brahms’s Piano Concert No. 2 and the 25th anniversary recital of America debut


In the US, most 45s were red, but Japanese versions are black. And the number of discs in the Japanese versions was half as many as those of the U.S. version. The French 45s are also black.


                              French 45


In the U.S., 45s are cut for use with an auto-changer. This is essentially a system to skip the turnover process and most U.S. homes had the device. To play music, you stack the records and place them above the turntable as if they are floating in air. When you turn on the record player, the first disc goes down, and the pickup cartridge automatically moves to play the music. When the first disc is over, the arm lift goes back to its original position automatically, the second disc goes down, and the arm lift automatically moves across to resume the performance.

 For this system to work, the recordings for these 45s have to be cut in a different order than for LPs. The following part of Side A must not be cut on the back side of the same disc, but on the front side of the second disc. For example, when playing seven discs, the auto-changer will play all the Side As of the seven records first. Then it reverses all the discs at the same time, and goes on to play all the Side Bs of the seven records.

 In the US, many LPs of operas and other long pieces were pressed to work with this system. An example is Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, the biggest LP set in the world when I bought one in the U.S. in 1968. This system was invented to save the trouble of reversing the discs frequently while listening to long pieces like symphonies and concertos on 78s. For example, for the 78s of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 by Horowitz (1945), the auto-changer system was adopted and the back side of Side 1 was Side 8. This proves that the auto-changer system for 78s was used as early as 1945. However, since 78s were big and heavy, there seem to have been other methods. On the other hand, this system was quite handy for the smaller and lighter 45s, so it survived much longer, though the central hole became smaller to match that of LPs as LPs became more popular.


                                  45s with small holes


Appendix I.3 is a list of the record numbers of the 45s released in the UK, the US, France and Japan, as well as the pieces on them. ES-8098 and ES-8102, which were released in 1957, were only sold in Japan, not in the UK and the US.

 Appendix II.3 is a discography of 45s. 45s are difficult to play back now, so I have added the LP and CD numbers that contain the same pieces.

 The photo below is of the jacket images of Horowitz’s 45s from my collection, though there are a great many that I still don’t have. WCT16 has four discs in its box, while ERBT-3 has two 45s with the same design in a half-fold jacket.


                                   45 collections


Columbia also produced 45s but did not release them. They are excerpts of Horowitz on TV.