A 122-year-old recording of Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of Germany, has been discovered in Thomas Edison’s laboratory.
Bismarck’s voice was captured by Adelbert Theodor Edward Wangemann, a German who was working as an assistant to Edison on a project to make phonographs marketable to the ordinary public.
The complete transcript has now been released for the first time since the recording in October 1889.
In the scratchy recitals on wax cylinder phonograph records the prince can be heard reciting the first strophes of the songs In Good Old Colony Times and Gaudeamus igitur, as well as the beginning of the poem Als Kaiser Rotbart lobesam. More controversially, he also read the first lines of the Marseillaise, the national anthem of France.
Bismarck concluded the recording with a message to his son Herbert, who is reported to have heard it via phonograph in Budapest several weeks later and recognized his father’s voice.
Related: The Very First Motion Picture (1889)