Knowing the first initial Columbia catalog we should be able to say something, definitely, about the 1st ever LP, in general, and also the 1st ever LP with pop music. So, the latter one, firstly.
The 1st ever LP with popular music is:
10-inch Columbia LP No. CL 6001 titled „The Voice of Frank Sinatra” incl. his 8 songs, with orchestra under Alex Stordahl.
On the other hand, the very very 1st ever LP is:
12-inch Columbia LP No. ML 4002 with two works of Johann Sebastian Bach – CONCERTO IN D MINOR FOR TWO VIOLINS AND ORCHESTRA and CONCERTO NO. 2 IN E MAJOR [For Violin & Orch.] performed by Adolf Busch and Frances Magnes [violins] with the Busch Chamber Players.
OK, the priority of the pop LP „The Voice of Frank Sinatra” is rather obvious. The first pop series of LPs was CL6000. And the LP opening these series i.e. CL6001 must be considered as the 1st pop LP ever.
With Columbia ML4002 it is not so easy. If you accepted my above message, I could only say – thank you for your confidence… However, one could ask – why „2”  and not „1” ? The others could note that according to some internet sources the 1st ever LP is – yes, indeed – Columbia ML4001.
OK, I know – indirectly – the backround of this story from an eye-witness of the presentation in Hotel Waldorf-Astoria. The intention of Columbia was to present this ML 4001 LP with Bach A minor Violin Concerto. In such a situation – with Bach – this would be really LP opening the first catalog of Columbia. So, in such a situation we could and should call it, symbolicly, as the first ever LP. But…
Unfortunately [for ML4001] something wrong happened. Just before the presentation in Waldorf-Astoria Columbia found that Bach A minor Violin Concerto played by Tibor Varga cannot be located on this record. The reasons were probably some contractual ones. As a result, LP ML 4001 was issued with Mendelssohn Concert. So, consequently, it falled down from B – like Bach, from the list’s top, up to M – like Mendelssohn – somewhere in the middle of the list. There is one more detail confirming the above version of the eye-witness from Waldorf Astoria. Please, look at the playing time of the Mendelssohn Concert on ML 4001: Side A – 11’18, Side B – 13:30. As you can see it is too short. It could not be foreseen, originally, for the exclusive covering of the whole new 12” LP.
For your information, all three earliest LP catalogs are starting from ML 4002 what you can see on the below photos:
- The earliest Columbia’s folded leafleat from June 1948 including LPs with classical music [„YOUR FAVORITE SELECTIONS”];
- Columbia’s Disc Digest of July 1948 including LPs with classical music [„treasury of recorded music”]
- Columbia’s Initial LP Catalog from The Billboard magazine of 3.07.1948.
So, according to all earliest Columbia documents the initial list of LPs starts from LP No. ML 4002!
BACH! BACH! BACH!
I said this LP is the first one – in a symbolic way. I mean the whole collection presented in in Hotel Waldorf-Astoria deserves being called the first LP collection ever. But if we were looking for just one very very first LP, this should be, for sure, LP No. ML 4002, opening this collection!