Help me find a recording of a speech by Stalin, if it really exists.
March 3, 2006 6:32 AM   Subscribe

A recording of a speech by Stalin, released on vinyl in the USSR, the 8th side of which consists entirely of applause: did it really exist, and does anyone know where I could track it down?

In his book Koba The Dread, Martin Amis makes passing reference to a recording of a speech by Stalin that ran to eight sides of vinyl, the eighth side of which consisted entirely of a standing ovation. (There are no references or further details, so I can't be sure if this recording existed, or if it's a joke/story that Amis is passing on as fact.)

So, anyone know if it is real, and if so, where I could track it down, or at least start looking?
posted by jack_mo to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think he gets that (and much of his material) from Robert Conquest. Try finding Stalin: Breaker of Nations in the library and see if Conquest lists his sources properly. (Or maybe it really was a joke that Amis didn't get or failed to properly communicate. See how Conquest explains it.)
posted by pracowity at 6:52 AM on March 3, 2006

Solzhenitsyn in his Gulag Archipelago mentions that in the 1930s paranoia at some awards event, someone toasted Stalin and the room broke into applause... it went on for 20-30 minutes as no one dared be the first to stop, and the NKVD hauled off the first person who quit and caused it to stop... so this isn't too farfetched.
posted by chef_boyardee at 8:19 AM on March 3, 2006

> Solzhenitsyn in his Gulag Archipelago...

That story is also in the Amis book, which reads like a condensation of Conquest and various people such as Solzhenitsyn filtered through Conquest.

> this isn't too farfetched.

The applause isn't too farfetched, but releasing a recording of it -- an entire side of a record -- might be. I'd like to know myself whether it's true or an exaggeration.
posted by pracowity at 12:54 PM on March 3, 2006

Response by poster: Good plan pracowity - I just used Amazon's 'search inside this book' feature to peep inside Conquest's book (er, even though I have it in the flat somewhere), and on page 221:
When one speech of Stalin's was published on gramophone records, the eighth side was devoted entirely to applause...
...but there's no reference or footnote - I'll dig out my real life copy to double check, and report back, unless anyone else can shed light on this. (Heck, if needs be, I'll write to Conquest and ask - there's something about the idea of that side of applause that has really got to me.)
posted by jack_mo at 4:18 PM on March 3, 2006

To put this in perspective, the 331/3 format was only available after 1948; a 78 or 45 record runs only 3½ or 4 minutes, respectively. It's possible, of course, that a contemporary Stalin speech was released on an LP, but I wonder if it's likely. In any case, 4 minutes of applause isn't that much, really.
posted by dhartung at 5:27 PM on March 3, 2006

Sidenote: When I studied Russian, one of the things that tickled me about the Soviet press (e.g. Pravda) was the hierarchy of clap in reporting speeches. Invariably, major addresses were published in their entirety, with the reactions telegraphing increasingly important points as follows:
- "applause" («аплодисменты»)
- "prolonged applause" («продольжительные аплодисменты»)
- "stormy applause" («бурные аплодисменты»)
- "ovation" («овация»)
You just knew that these parentheticals were in the "draft" speeches provided to the press.

posted by rob511 at 7:10 PM on March 3, 2006

Response by poster: To put this in perspective, the 331/3 format was only available after 1948

Yeah, I'd been assuming a 78rpm disc (10", maybe 12", rather than 7") but Amis and Conquest don't specify that it was a contemporary release, so it suppose it could have come out any time before Kruschev's 'Secret Speech' in 1956, or even much later, making a 33.3rpm a bit more likely... all assuming the Soviet recording industry matched the US and Europe when it comes to speeds. (It's not the duration than freaks me out, anyway, so much as the idea of people flipping over to the last side and listening attentively to nothing but applause.)

Checked my paperback copy of Stalin: Breaker of Nations, and there's no reference... given the magic of AskMe, I'm still hoping someone will pop up who has a copy! Have written to Conquest c/o the Hoover Institution at Stanford, so we'll see...
posted by jack_mo at 4:47 AM on March 4, 2006

I'm guessing the "entire side of a recording" bit is too good to be true, but I'll be interested to see what Conquest says.
posted by languagehat at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2006

jack_mo, has Conquest written back to you yet? I bookmarked this back in March and am still interested!
posted by ducksauce at 2:57 PM on May 23, 2006

Response by poster: No word as yet, ducksauce. I'll mail everyone who's commented in the thread if he does get back to me....
posted by jack_mo at 4:06 AM on May 29, 2006

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