Copyright and the Music Industry

I was poking through my collection the other day, and I ran across this:

Public Domain Recording

And I was puzzled. I was looking for the date of the recording, normally availiable from the copyright indication, but investigation of the album showed no signs of a date. Well, there were two copyright dates for the liner notes, but none for the music.

Public Domain. Where were the heirs of the composer, the orchestra, the chorus? What corporate entity owned the recording? Who did CBS pay for this?

Now given that this recording was once in the public domain, what rights do I have to the recording? Am I allowed to rip and post it online? Is it still in the public domain? Have they snatched it back?

As for the composer, I’m not sure he was ever paid for it. There was something of a fight between him and his patrons, as the work was several years late and not exactly what they were expecting.

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