May 13, 2011
At the risk of seriously derailing your schedule, I point you to the online availability of thousands of recordings from the Library of Congress. When the founders of the library conceived of a great national collection of materials (which, naturally, meant books when the word library really named a repository for libri), they could hardly have dreamed of the diffusion that digital means allow.
Almost at random I whet your appetite with three examples: a 1917 recording of a Rossini aria and Sousa’s band in 1923 and “O sole mio” performed by the “Neapolitan Trio” in 1915. If that’s not enough breadth for you, you can discover your own at http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/.