The return of the Orpheus label on Musical Concepts is a story of the revival of America’s largest and yet least-known classical music record label. The Orpheus label was long a part of the Musical Heritage Society, a record club and record label started in New York City in the early 1960s by Dr. Michael Naida.
Naida, who made recordings for Westminster in the 1950s, had a vision of a “society” where members would receive recordings in the mail, and be kept aware of developments and new recordings via “The MHS Review”, which became one of the earliest “record clubs”.
Dr. Naida sold MHS – the club and the record label – in the late 1970s. The new owners, the Nissim family, with a strong background in direct mail marketing, grew MHS to over 500,000 members in the late 1980s and 1990s.
The MHS record club was sold in 2011, but the record label remained in the hands of the owners. Only a few hundred jazz and classical recordings on the MusicMasters label remained available in digital form, for downloading and streaming. Very few of the early MHS catalog appeared in digital form, or on CDs or LPs.
In 2021, Musical Heritage Society completed the first true detailed research into the MHS catalog of recordings since the label and record club was purchased. They discovered that Musical Heritage Society owned over 2,000 recordings, either purchased by the Society or made by the Society’s engineers and producers since the mid 1960s – far exceeding their estimates.
Musical Heritage Society approached Musical Concepts with the idea of reviving the Orpheus label – where historic and well-regarded MHS recordings could be restored and available to classical music lovers, with vastly improved sound (even from the LP era) and restored liner notes.