On this day in 1888, Sir Arthur Sullivan heard a recording of his own composition “The Lost Chord” as the first English demonstration of Thomas Edison’s remarkable new invention, the phonograph. Sir Arthur’s remarks at the time are worth repeating:
I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the result of this evening’s experiments: astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever.
Until today, however, Dr. Boli had not realized that the very recording Sir Arthur heard still exists. Here it is, and you may judge it for yourself—kindly, of course, and bearing in mind that a century and a quarter have passed since the cylinder was fresh.