The Cockburn Hotel – on the corner Bath Street and West Campbell Street – is thought to be the location of the first ever commercial recording made in Glasgow.
The recording of Iff’s Orchestra took place on the 10th September 1899 and the record was released on a 78 rpm shellac record on the Berliner record label, which had been founded by Emile Berliner, the inventor of the flat gramophone record.
Wilhelm Iff himself is an interesting character – he was born in Germany in 1857 but relocated to Glasgow via the Isle of Man along with his brother, Louis by the late 1870s.
His musical career saw him firstly conducting military bands, before forming his own orchestra (with his brother) in the 1890s, that became much in demand at dances in hotel ballrooms and special events around the country. By 1907, they were being booked by the Royal Family to perform at state occasions at Buckingham Palace.
However, the anti-German sentiment after the First World War effectively ended the orchestra: Wilhelm continued to live in Glasgow, but died in 1933.
Iff’s Orchestra made a number of recordings for different labels at the start of the twentieth century, commensurate with their reputation.
The Cockburn Hotel recording, La Poupee Polka [Berliner 656], is part of a collection of early records from Scotland that National Library of Scotland purchased from the collector, Bill Dean-Myatt, who died earlier this year.
The Cockburn Hotel was demolished in 1970, though the site is now occupied by another hotel, the Hampton.