When sounds found their feet

Sounds are flighty. Music could only be captured for the first time almost 140 years ago. The earliest sound carriers were scratched sheets of foil wound around rollers. At the end of the 19th century, the record came on the market, and at the beginning of the 1960s the shellac record was replaced by one made of vinyl. At the same time as this more robust sound carrier, the first portable record players appeared. Hotly sought after by young people, the “boxed gramophone” became the height of fashion. This enabled them to listen to the hits of the sixties in their own bedrooms.

The boxed gramophone upholstered in white with a built-in speaker was one of the popular playback devices of the time. The company Lenco from Burgdorf launched it around 1965. It could play speeds of 16/33/45 or 78 rotations per minute. The appliance was connected to the power supply using a cable, so this also limited its mobility.

Girl group on the turntable

A proud owner of this boxed gramophone in the 1960s was a teenager from Crans-Montana. The show «Disque-Analyse» brought relevant music tips into her family home on medium wave via the Sottens national transmitter. Not long after that, the music of the French girl group «Les Parisiennes», among others, found its way onto her turntable.

Sooner or later, the path from the bedroom to the concert led to Montreux. All the big international names have played at the music festival there in recent decades, turning the little place on Lake Geneva into a magnet for music stars. The National Museum is currently looking back on 50 years of festival history.

Montreux. Jazz since 1967

National Museum Zurich

19.1. – 21.5.2018

David Bowie, Miles Davis and Deep Purple – they have all played at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Founded in 1967, it has become one of the most prominent music events in the world. The big names in the music business gather in Montreux every year. The happenings that normally unfold on the shoreline of Lake Geneva are now coming to Zurich in the form of an exhibition. The National Museum will look back on 50 years of festival history, celebrating the legendary Claude Nobs and filling the exhibition rooms with music and unique glimpses behind the scenes. For once the stars and their music will be within easy reach.

Portable record player by Lenco. Burgdorf, 1960. Photo: Swiss National Museum


One of the first girl groups was “Les Parisiennes” from France. They had a large fan base in Switzerland as well.

Erika Hebeisen on Wordpress
Erika Hebeisen
Historian and curator at the Swiss National Museum


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