Radio actuality recordings

A unique collection of original BBC and other radio actuality recordings brings to life the London of the 1920s to the 1950s. These sounds were captured at street markets, fairgrounds, skittle alleys, auction houses, hopfields and elsewhere.

Swiss yodelling Albert Hall 1948

IN MAY 1948, the Royal Albert Hall hosted the Swiss Folklore Festival in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund. The BBC made two recordings of yodelling choirs at the festival (BBC library number 11758), one of which is reproduced here. The disc label identifies the performers as Ennet Mooser, yodeller choir from Stans, which is the capital of the Swiss canton of Nidwalden and looks pretty much in the exact middle of the country.

The men sing and yodel well. Scant records exist online of the event, although an image survives of a publicity poster:

Swiss Folklore Festival 1948 poster

A commercial photo library also has a picture of a group of alp-horn players who were due to play at the festival following an appointment at Buckingham Palace.

Yodelling became better-known to the British listening public in the following decades through American singers like Jimmie Rodgers and the Glasgow-born Karl Denver, whose falsetto take on Solomon Linda’s The Lion Sleeps Tonight can be seen and heard here.

European folk traditions of yodelling were limited to a few travel-by-vinyl releases such as the 7” single Alpine Holiday from 1959:

Alpine Holiday, cover of 7-inch single from 1959

We shall pass swiftly over Do-Re-Mi’s Yodel in the Canyon of Love, an amusingly-titled but otherwise diabolical 1997 attempt to become Britain’s Eurovision song entry.

Recording © copyright BBC. Audio digitisation and restoration by the London Sound Survey. Many thanks to BBC Worldwide for granting permission to reproduce this recording here.

Swiss yodelling Albert Hall 2:17