CASTINE — David Hall, 95, longtime Castine resident, sound archivist, writer and record producer, died April 10, 2012.
After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, Hall authored “The Record Book,” an annotated discography of concert music repertoire on 78 rpm discs, which instructed record collectors on “how to lay a solid foundation for a record library.” Published in 1940, it was followed by a series of supplements, and an international edition, the last published in 1955. Hall began a lifelong involvement with the record business as advertising copywriter with Columbia Records. In 1942, he became script writer for the NBC Symphony, the all-star orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini. In 1948, Hall joined fellow Yale graduate John Hammond on a quest to postwar Europe on behalf of Mercury Records, to acquire European classical recordings for American release. Their efforts helped Mercury become a major force in the record industry. Between 1951 and 1956, Hall produced Mercury’s Living Presence Series, notable recordings by the Chicago, Minneapolis and Eastman Rochester symphony orchestras under such conductors as Rafael Kubelik, Antal Dorati, Paul Paray and Howard Hanson. Mercury’s 1955 recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture became the best-selling classical record of the decade. After a year in Denmark as a Fulbright Fellow, in 1957, Hall joined Hi-Fi/Stereo Review (later Stereo Review), to which he continued to contribute until 1999, when the magazine ceased publication. In 1963, he became president of Composers’ Recordings Inc., a nonprofit label devoted to recording and distributing the work of American contemporary composers. From 1967 to 1985, Hall served as curator of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at Lincoln Center, which became a major force in sound recording collection and service. Under his direction, the Archives produced The Mapleson Cylinders, an important collection of historic sound which captured the performances of early 20th century Metropolitan Opera stars. It received a Grammy from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences in 1986. Hall was active in a variety of board and trusteeship activities: as president of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections and the Sibelius Society, as a director of the National Music Council, and as classical music consultant to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Hall moved to Maine with his wife of 50 years, Bernice Dobkin, in 1985. He served on the board of the Blue Hill Concert Association. Last fall, he donated an extraordinary collection of 2,500 classical CDs to the Blue Hill Library.
He is survived by his domestic partner, Del Thomas of Castine; his children, Marion Hunt of St. Louis, Mo., Jonathan Hall of South Brooksville, Peter Dobkin Hall of New Haven, Conn., and Susannah Hall of Bucksport; as well as nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A private graveside service is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, 2012. Friends are cordially invited to join the family for refreshment at 2:30 at Del’s house, 11 Court St., Castine. Contributions in David’s honor may be sent to the charity of your choice.