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A Trove Of Celluloid, Primed For The Public

Maria Callas at home in her Milan Apartment, in 1958. One of 85,000 archive films British Pathé has uploaded to YouTube.
British Pathé
Maria Callas at home in her Milan Apartment, in 1958. One of 85,000 archive films British Pathé has uploaded to YouTube.

History buffs and YouTube junkies rejoice. , the newsreel archive company, has just opened the floodgates, releasing 85,000 historic films to YouTube. Reels spotlighting Muhammad Ali, Mother Teresa, the Russian Front in World War I, a 1909 Wright Brothers flight, Queen Victoria's funeral, and countless cricket matches, merely scratch the surface of this mammoth celluloid trove, digitized in high resolution and ready to click.

There are plenty of treasures for music fanatics, too — from opera diva Maria Callas, all glam and smiles, showing off her Milan apartment, to an odd new invention called a computer that, in a reel from 1968, actually spits out a symphony of whirring blurps.

These are a few which caught our eye, giving us a chance to eavesdrop on artists from the past in an era long before television, streaming and live HD simulcasts changed the way we consume music.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.