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In 1897 the Gramophone Company began trading in London, intending to establish a European market for the gramophone and its flat disc records which Emile Berliner had invented and patented in the USA some ten years earlier. Initially the Company's catalogue consisted mainly of songs by music hall artists, brass band recordings and other popular material, but in 1902 a rising young opera star, Enrico Caruso, recorded ten arias in a hotel room in Milan, and thereby helped to establish the gramophone as a serious medium for classical music. The Gramophone Company flourished, selling both classical and popular recordings throughout the whole of Europe as well as Australia, India and other parts of the old British Empire.

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