Robert Mondavi 1913-2008

I want to offer a tribute to someone who has made an impact in my life, someone who died yesterday at the age of 94. Robert Mondavi is widely considered the man who put California on the map as an icon of fine wine. I met Robert and Margrit two years ago while engineering NPR’s historic first live classical music webcast, from the new Napa Valley symphony hall. Robert was in a wheelchair and couldn’t hear so well. Margrit, his wife, promised to pass along my deep gratitude for their lifelong patronage of Northern California arts. Of all the projects they’ve underwritten, closest to my heart is the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the U.C. Davis campus. The new concert hall could not have been built without their spectacularly generous gift. Mondavi’s new hall represents a pinnacle in world-class acoustical design. I’ve been producing and engineering classical music in N. California for almost 20 years. Every chance I get to record in the new hall is like sneaking into a little bit of heaven. I consider this “my hall.” I was there often during construction, and made the first commercial recording in Mondavi Hall (Delos DE3360). Here are excerpts from that stunning performance. MP3-a MP3-b MP3-c Mondavi’s sons have since sold off the family business to a megalcohol conglomerate, but Robert’s legacy will live on, touching and enriching the lives of millions to come. Thank you Robert Mondavi. From the Chancellor of U.C. Davis In June 2004, UC Davis presented Robert and Margrit Mondavi with the UC Davis Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the university. But what I will treasure most about our friendship with Bob Mondavi was his sense of destiny. I remember him saying once, “If you wish to succeed, you must listen to yourself, to your own heart, and have the courage to go your own way, to find the right direction.” There’s no doubt that Mondavi accomplished his mission – to the betterment of the university, the wine industry, agriculture, the state of California – and beyond. And the Mondavis’ belief in UC Davis emboldened each of us to reach even higher. Through his leadership, Mondavi truly opened a new era of opportunity for UC Davis. He was convinced that the sciences and the arts were essential companions. He reassured each of us – no matter our calling in life – that we were capable of and responsible for creating a magnificent and enduring legacy. – Larry N. Vanderhoef , Chancellor of the University of California. Also this week.. I received a photograph from Portland Oregon-based artist Rebecca Gray. Her new painting of a rose is so stunning I wanted to share it. And finally, with the Jill Taylor post approaching 300 comments, I leave you with the results of my brain lateralization test: Brain Lateralization Test Results Right Brain (58%) The right hemisphere is the visual, figurative, artistic, and intuitive side of the brain. Left Brain (42%) The left hemisphere is the logical, articulate, assertive, and practical side of the brain Are You Right or Left Brained? personality tests by  

Audio Week

With all the excitement over the Martinville phonautograph discovery (which predates Edison’s first tin foil recording by 17 years), I was asked by the Long Now Foundation to write a little bit about the future of our audio heritage. The Millennia Foundation supports the Long Now Foundation’s institutional guidelines: Serve the long view (and the long viewer) Foster responsibility Reward patience Mind mythic depth Ally with competition Take no sides Leverage longevity If you’re interested in the future of media, take a few minutes to read this  

Discovered: World’s Oldest Audio Recording

I’m attending an audio conference at Stanford this week. Some of you may have seen the front page of yesterday’s New York Times. A significant bit of audio history has just been rewritten. Until this week’s announcement, the earliest known sound recording was Edison’s 1877 “mary had a little lamb” experiment. Today, we heard a woman’s voice recorded in 1860. We now know that a Parisian named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville made an audio recording 17 years before Edison (actually, Martinville attempted audio recordings as early as 1853, but they are unintelligible). This discovery does not diminish Edison – Martinville had no idea how to play back his phonautographs. The 1860 recording was discovered in an obscure French archive earlier this month by a team of American researchers. It’s quite the detective story. The French phonautograph was extracted via optical techniques developed by Lawrence Berkeley Labs. Raw, semi-processed, and fully-processed results were played publicly today for the first time. A semi-processed MP3 version is on-line here. What’s really fascinating is that Martinville’s method recorded TWO adjacent tracks. One track was the female voice program while the other track was a tuning fork specified by Martinville as 435 Hz. This of course allowed Berkeley researchers to lock absolute pitch. Brilliant! This afternoon, I spoke at length with the project’s lead researcher (David Giovannoni) who shared, “we’ve found evidence of even earlier Martinville recordings of similar caliber.” This remarkable story is likely not