Tenor Enrico Caruso died in 1921, but the January 1938 issue of All Wave Radio magazine noted that the program “The Music You Want to Hear When You Want It,” sponsored by RCA-Victor occasionally carried a “recreated Caruso record” with the voice of Caruso and a recreated orchestral accompaniment. Recording technology had advanced a great deal in the intervening years, as shown by the accompanying photograph of an early recording session, probably taken in the late 1910’s.
In Caruso’s day, it was necessary to record the entire performance thought a single horn. The article explains how the violins were placed near the horn for maximum pickup. The frequency range possible meant that the drums wouldn’t be picked up well anyway, so they were situated near the rear.
The soloist’s voice would, however, be picked up well, and the frequency range of the early recordings faithfully preserved Caruso’s voice. Therefore, it was possible to do a recreation broadcast. Using more modern electronic methods, the orchestra could be picked up well. A new live orchestra accompanied a perfect copy of the old recording for broadcast. The conductor wore headphones, listening to the recording as he conducted to keep perfect time.
The result was a new “live” broadcast of Caruso.