Man amasses amazing music library

| May 2006

  • Curreri-Story.jpg
    SOLID GOLD COLLECTION: Maynard Bertolet showed off part of his huge collection of recordings.
    Joe Curreri

  • Curreri-Story.jpg

Maynard Bertolet is 72 years old, but if he were to listen to every recording in his collection, it would take him another 72 years. He isn't your run-of-the-mill record collector; his treasure trove is akin to a museum. He has some 250,000 albums, singles, 45s, compact discs and private recordings - a mishmash that's likely unmatched anywhere.

He has every commercial recording of Mario Lanza, Al Jolson, Judy Garland, Nat 'King' Cole, Frank Sinatra, Burl Ives, Maria Callas, Barbra Streisand, Beverly Sills and Enrico Caruso. His collection includes thousands of hours of never-released or unpublished records, radio recordings and soundtracks of great voices, operas, concerts and musicals.

Each album is protected in plastic, and when Bertolet lifts the records out of their protective jackets, he does it as lovingly as a groom lifting his bride's veil.

'I started collecting records at 15 in 1947,' he said. 'But I was less than a normal collector until a startling event happened in my life. I saw 'The Jolson Story.' His voice captivated me. Using my high-school lunch money, I bought all the Jolson 78s that came out.'

In 1949, he saw the movie 'That Midnight Kiss,' starring Mario Lanza.

'His voice completely electrified me,' Bertolet said. 'I thought he had the greatest voice of his age, an expression which was unique in the way he was able to bring feeling to his music.'

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