Supraphon

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About the company

The recording company Supraphon ist the most important Czech gramophone company in the post war period from the historical point of view. The label Supraphon – formerly the name of a modern electrical gramophone during its time – was registrated in 1932. In the post-war years, czech gramophone records estimated for export got this nameand helped in the way to expand the rumour of the mainly Czech classical music in the recordings from the 30-ies and the 40-ies.

The first shellac records with Supraphon label were released in 1946, during the first wave of nationalization. Under this label, contrary to Ultraphone or Esta, older records were released. By the nationalization in 1948, an era of several companies and recording companies and their releasing companies ended for a long time and their catalogues have been taken over by Supraphon. Propably the first 50 pieces of vinyl LP records were released by Supraphon already in 1951. But for a long time, only classical music was considered, the first LP records with pop music were released in 1965, among others Karel Gott. Shellac grammophone records were pressed until 1963, until Supraphon definitelly changed to vinyl and they were available even in 1968.

Contract with Supraphon

The first record of Karel Gott (Až nám bude dvakrát tolik) was pressed in vinyl and even in shellac. Despite of the relatively low technical niveau of the past Czechoslovakia, the records of Supraphon fullfilled parameters comparable to the products of West European companies. Back in 1986, Supraphon released some individual CD records and the first one, with catalogue number 110001 belonged just Karel Gott. The CD itself was still created in Switzerland, Cds have been pressed in Czechoslovakia first one year later, which means in the time when Cds appeared on the czechoslovakian market, though only classical music was considered.

Since 1988, when Supraphon released Karel Gott album You are everywhere, each of his albums was released on CD as well. After 1995, when Karel´s last album on LP was released (Zázrak vánoční), vinyl record have been replaced by Cds completely. Until approximatelly 1993, Supraphon had a dominant position on the marked, after the rise of competition in the 90-ies, where many artists left Supraphon for other recording companies, Supraphon began to lower its position. In 1993, Karel Gott recorded his last album under the label of Supraphon.

If we could say it this way, Supraphon re-gains its position first in 2003, but it specialises in releasing classical music only. This Supraphon has not re-gained the former dominant position on the market, the company still remains one of the main recording companies. Media with pop music are released from its long-term archive but only for domestic discofiles – contrary to the past, when Supraphon produced even export albums for the foreign market company Artia. This is also the reason why the re-editions of pop music artists are not released by Supraphon. This is also the case of the Re-Edition Komplet of Karel Gott.

Leaving Supraphon

Though the domestic production of the Golden nightingale nowadays is only joined to the agency bearing his name in a part of the company name, until 1994, Supraphon was the only domestic releasing company, where Karel Gott kept his faith since signing the contract for the first single (1962). It was a state company, later incorporated, which was not able to offer Karel Gott such conditions as the rising Czech and expanding foreign recording companies in the mid-90-ies. In 1993, Karel Gott grounded together with his producer František Janeček his own company Gott-Janeček (GoJa). Since then, Karel Gott has been represented by this company in the Czech republic and this company also releases his albums.

Nowadays it´s obvious, that this first place, where Karel Gott has exclusively been represented by one company for 32 years, was only taken over by the German Polydor (Koch Universal), a company, which has been cooperating with Karel Gott for more than 40 years (let us mention the fact here, that in 1997, Karel Gott signed a lifetime contract with the concern Polydor for the exclusive representation in German speaking countries – only three artists incl. Karel Gott have been offered such a contract in the whole history of the company.

Supraphon repertoire

As far as recorded songs (not only for Supraphon) are considered and provided we would not forget any other once released recording, still there would be lots of recordings missing in the list, because lots of songs have only been performed on concerts or TV shows, while they never reached releasing on a record. Though the main domain of Karel Gott became the middle stream as the time went by, and with a special emphasis on cantilenas, which he kept his faith on his albums and concerts until the end and it originates in jazz beginnings, he has always been trying to reach other musical spheres, as if he felt curtailed by the stated borders of the pure pop. Thank to exceptional voice qualities, these experiences usually went good, so nowadays we would hardly find a musical area which he has not visited yet (of course in the bounds which are stated by his natural and musical feeling).

Melodie, 1999