On Dec. 24, 1907, a group of bewhiskered men gathered in the bowels of the Paris Opera to begin a project that by definition they could never see to fruition. First, 24 carefully wrapped wax records were placed inside two lead and iron containers. These were then sealed and locked in a small storage room with instructions that they should remain undisturbed for 100 years.This fascinating musical experiment was undertaken by the Gramophone Company, ancestor to the modern-day musical giant EMI. The recordings have been digitized and will be released shortly on CD.
Most intriguing is the repertory chosen for posterity, and here the surprise is the lack of surprises. Wouldn’t any opera season today also offer evergreens by Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini as well as by Bizet, Gounod, Wagner and Mozart? And won’t many concert programs this year include instrumental pieces by Beethoven and Chopin?
The great source of internet Truth, Wikipedia, has a wonderful article about time capsules. It seems the concept is quite ancient. In fact, says Wiki, "The Epic of Gilgamesh, among humanity's earliest literary works, begins with instructions on how to find a box of copper inside a foundation stone in the great walls of Uruk - in the box is Gilgamesh's tale, written on a lapis tablet. There were other time capsules 5,000 years ago as vaults of artifacts hidden inside the walls of Mesopotamian cities."
The best time capsule story I know of happened recently, at least it began recently. In the 1939 New York World's Fair, the Westinghouse Corporation buried a time capsule that is to be opened in 5,000 years. At the time of the 1965 World's Fair, they added another one.
This first modern time capsule was followed in 1965 by a second capsule at the same site, but 10 feet to the north of the original. Both capsules are buried 50 feet below Flushing Meadows Park, site of the Fair. Both the 1939 and 1965 Westinghouse Time Capsules are meant to be opened in 6939.
What do you think about this practice? Isn't it a fascinating concept? The stuff from 100 years ago is so antiquated, what would a 5,000 year time capsule seem like?
Is it too optimistic of the Westinghouse people?
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