Recording Pioneers

Wilhelm STARKMANN  ("Willy")1906-1992   arrowarrow PIONEER    PARENTS    LIFE    NOTES    LABELS    PHOTOS    THANK YOU


Wilhelm STARKMANN  ("Willy")1906-1992

aka W. Starkmann
nationality Austrian and a resident of India. Naturalized in Britain (8 Apr 1947).
birth 5 July 1906, Vienna, Austria
death 5 Feb 1992, Houston, Texas, USA
marriage married on ... Oct/Nov/Dec 1948, Willesden, Middlesex (Reference HO 334/256/3992, Kew & freeBMD)
Margarete GEISSE

b. ...........
d. ...........



father Heinrich STARKMANN manager of a gramophone company (retired by 1939)

b. 16 Dec 1876, Vienna, AUSTRIA
d. .............

mother Berta QUITTNER

b. 10 Sep 1879, Nagyeorvistye, HUNGARY
d. 4 May 1950, Obersteingasse, Vienna, AUSTRIA - burial: 10 May 1950, New Jewish Cemetery, Vienna, AUSTRIA

marriage married on 16 May 1905, Pressburg (= Bratislava)
  • Wilhelm

    b. 5 July 1906, Vienna, AUSTRIA
    d. 5 Feb 1992, Houston, Texas, USA


Joined the Columbia Graphophone Company on 10th of January 1927.

Wilhelm STARKMANN (22y) recording engineer
SS "TJERIMAI" (Rotterdam Lloyd Royal Mail Line)
dep.: 5 Sep 1928, Rotterdam, HOLLAND
Itinerary: Rotterdam - Southampton - Tangier - Marseilles - Port Said
On 7 Sep 1928 arrival at Southampton, ENGLAND
destination: Sourabaya, DUTCH EAST INDIES
On 7 October 1928 expected arrival at Priok
arr.: .. Oct 1928, Sourabaya, DUTCH EAST INDIES
residence: c/o 73, Petty France, London S.W.1., ENGLAND

At the time Wilhelm Starkmann was working for Columbia.
At Petty France there was a Columbia studio.
Recordings in Columbia matrix series:
W 39001-39215 (25cm/10inch): 16 Oct to 11 Nov 1928, Surabaya, Java, DUTCH EAST INDIES
W 47501-47520 (30cm/12inch): 1 & 5 Nov 1928, Surabaya, Java, DUTCH EAST INDIES

dep.: 18 Feb 1931, Batavia, DUTCH EAST INDIES
Wilhelm Starkmann disembarked at Genua (ITALY)

What had Starkmann been doing in the DEI? Still recording for Columbia or his new employer HMV?
Recorded for HMV from 20.08.1931 to 25.06.1934.
Identification letters: 0WX (25cm) and 2WX (30cm)
Until March 1938 HMV resident recordist in Vienna (Austria)

Wilhelm STARKMANN (32y) engineer
SS "RANPURA" (P. & O. S. N. Co.)
dep.: 30 Dec 1938, Port of London, ENGLAND
destination: Bombay, INDIA (ship bound for Yokohama, JAPAN)
arr.: .. Jan 1939, Bombay, INDIA
residence: c/o 3, Abbey Road, St John's Wood, London S.W.8., ENGLAND

According to information from the Columbia Lahore distributors (letter 12 Sep 1939) in September 1939 Wilhelm Starkmann was interned by the local police as an enemy alien. Mr. [Frank Arthur] Floyd to replace him
On the 23rd October 1939 he was released from the Central Internment Camp at Ahmadnagar and returned to duty at Du Dum (Calcutta).

Parents of Wilhelm: Heinrich STARKMANN & Berta STARKMANN:
29 Nov 1939: UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945, Male & Female Enemy Alien – Exemption from Internment – Refugee. Cert. No. 726469 & Cert. No. 728137
Nationality Heinrich: German
Nationality Berta: German (formerly Hungarian & Austrian)

SS "ORONSAY" (Orient)
dep.: 23 Dec 1939, Southampton (bound to Australia).
arr.: .... Haifa, PALESTINE
Last residence in the UK: 86, Sussex Gardens, W.2., London, ENGLAND
Country of intended future permanent residence: Palestine

In July 1940 Wilhelm Starkmann was (for a second time!) interned at the Parole Camp near Darjeeling (INDIA)

W. STARKMANN (42y) engineer
SS "ORMONDE" (Orient Line)
dep.: .. Apr 1948, Bombay, INDIA
arr.: 29 Apr 1948, Tilbury, ENGLAND
last permanent residence: INDIA
proposed address in UK: c/o Gramophone Co., Hayes, Middlesex, ENGLAND

Wilhelm STARKMAN (sic) (42y) engineer
dep.: 28 Oct 1948, London, ENGLAND (bound for Sydney, AUSTRALIA)
arr.: .. Nov 1948, Bombay, INDIA
last permanent residence: 48, Spencer Rd, N. Wembley, London, ENGLAND

Wilhelm STARKMANN (y) recording engineer
SS "EMPRESS OF ENGLAND" (Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd.)
dep.: 23 Aug 1957, Liverpool, ENGLAND
destination: Quebec and Montreal, CANADA
arr.: .... 1957, ........, CANADA
residence: 17, Broadwalk Court, Palace Gdns. Terrace, London W.8., ENGLAND
intended future permanent residence: CANADA

From John B. Milmo comes the following information:

You may remember I asked you about him some time ago. Before WW2 he worked out of Vienna where he was
resident recording engineer until March 1938 and recorded there and in Romania and Czechoslovakia. Then, to
all intents and purposes he disappeared. Later in 1938 his wife contacted HMV to ask where he was; they did
not reply. She wrote again in November and was told he had been “relocated” to Calcutta. Jo at the Archive has
a hunch that the company quietly and quickly removed personnel who were “of interest” to the Nazi regime and,
because post was intercepted had to wait for the transfer to have been successfully effected before informing the
family. That seems to accord with my enquiries about the Starkmann who was a violinist with the VPO and was
Jewish and who also “disappeared” leading to the conclusion that like his Jewish VPO colleagues he had been
sent to Auschwitz.
Wilhelm’s story has a much happier ending. After the war he came back to England and by 1954 was the Senior
Editor at Hayes. Malcolm Walker consulted one of his successors, David Bell, who has just responded to
Malcolm saying that Starkmann had been his boss when he (David) joined in 1955. He describes him as one of
the leader of the four musicians who made up the editing staff (he wasn’t that good at reading scores) and made
sure he avoided the important jobs! He always wore very expensive suits, well tailored and invariably dark but
was very friendly with Barry Waite, the Assistant Manager of the Studios, who lived next door. As a character
he was congenial, friendly and outgoing to a degree, always very good company to be with with many good
stories and jokes, “a real character, great to recall him” said David.


  • HMV – The Gramophone Company Matrix Series Identifying Letters: A Summary by John Milmo (online publication; revised 21 June 2020)
  • Continental Columbia 78rpm Recordings - A Dating Guide, Part One by Peter Copeland (in: Historic Record, No. 37, Oct 1995)
  • The early record industry in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore: the mechanics of an estimate of quantity by Philip Yampolsky (in: The Lindström Project ed. by Pekka Gronow & Christiane Hofer, Vol. 3. Vienna 2010, pp. 194-212)



John B. Milmo
Maria Kapkidi (co-researcher RP)
Paul Cleary
Janine Kinnear
Jaap Erkelens