Carl Fischer Music
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|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City|
|Publication types||Sheet music|
Carl Fischer Music is a major sheet music publisher, based in New York City’s East Village since 1872. The company has since moved to the Wall Street area in 2013. After 140 years, the company remains a family-owned business, publishing both performance and educational music for students, teachers, and virtuosos. Carl Fischer’s composers and editors give clinics and sessions all over the country, and the company claims to serve more than 1400 retailers around the world.
1870s into the 20th century
In 1872, Carl Fischer opened his musical instrument repair shop in the East Village neighborhood of New York City. Noticing that many of his customers were searching for instrumental arrangements of well-known works that didn’t exist, Fischer began creating and reproducing arrangements, which led him into the music publishing business. Carl Fischer became the pre-eminent publisher of music for concert band composers such as Percy Grainger, John Philip Sousa and the famous transcriptions of Erik W. G. Leidzén and Mayhew Lake.
Carl Fischer also was a Musical Instrument Dealer, and imported wooden flutes made by Emil Rittershausen, Berlin Germany, from the 1890s to 1914. Rittershausen is well documented in the New Langewell Index of musical instruments. In 1910 Fischer won the importation rights for clarinets and saxophones manufactured by Buffet-Crampon of France. In 1929 the C.G. Conn company acquired the musical instrument department from the company, maintaining the Carl Fischer retail operations as a consortium between Conn and the music publisher under the Carl Fischer name. Instruments from various leading manufacturers of the period were sold under the Carl Fischer house brand. In 1940 the company acquired the York Band Instrument Company for $300,000. Production at the York facility was switched over to munitions during World War II and the "York" brand was subsequently downgraded to budget lines of instruments provided by various suppliers.
As the company grew and diversified, Fischer's three sons joined the team: Carl, Jr., Walter S. and George. In 1924, Carl Fischer Music was invited to be a member of ASCAP, adding the company’s publications to a respected network of artists and composers. The company continued to grow, necessitating the building of Carl Fischer’s new headquarters in 1926, located in Cooper Square, Manhattan. This building housed administrative offices and a sprawling retail store.
1930s and 1940s
Walter S. Fischer succeeded his father as President of Carl Fischer Music in 1923 and in 1939 his son-in-law, Frank Hayden Connor became his assistant. Though they began contributing in the 1920s, it was the 1930s and 1940s that were marked by the significant contributions of works and arrangements from classical music superstars such as Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, and Joseph Szigeti. Frank Hayden Connor became the president of the company and opened Carl Fischer’s second retail location, which also housed a beautiful concert hall, in midtown Manhattan. This five-story building was the largest music store in New York City until it was sold in 1959.
1950s through the 1970s
Notable additions to the catalog during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s include significant works by Howard Hanson, Norman Dello Joio, Lukas Foss, Peter Mennin, Douglas Moore, and Anton Webern. During this period, Carl Fischer Music represented Oxford University Press, Paterson's of London, Henle Verlag of Germany, Cundy-Bettoney, Eastman School of Music (containing music by then-director Howard Hanson), the Fillmore Music catalog (containing Henry Fillmore's marches), and the Charles Foley catalog (containing the compositions of Fritz Kreisler).
1980s and 1990s
Walter Fischer Connor became President and Chairman of the Board, as well as Chairman of Boosey and Hawkes, a British music publishing company, for a short time. During this time, Carl Fischer Music developed the Rack Sense program, the first sophisticated computerized system for stocking music stores with high-turnover print music product. Composer Andrew Balent created the Sounds Spectacular series for band, a forerunner in the area of music for young bands. It was also during the 1980s and 1990s that Carl Fischer Music began to publish the works of fast-rising composers such as Henry Brant, Michael Colgrass, Sebastian Currier, Jason Eckardt, Daron Hagen, Lee Hyla, Martin Bresnick, David Carlson, Paul Lansky, Daniel S. Godfrey, Samuel Jones, and David Maslanka. In 1999, F. Hayden Connor, the great grandson of founder Carl Fischer, became chairman, and music publishing icon Sandy Feldstein was hired to lead the firm into the 21st century. Carl Fischer Music moved its corporate headquarters to the landmark Bayard-Condict Building in the NoHo neighborhood of Greenwich Village. Also in 1999, Larry Clark was named Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, bringing a wealth of composers into the Carl Fischer community, such as Sean O’Loughlin, Doris Gazda, and Carl Strommen. Andrew Balent brought Joseph Compello to the catalog at this time.
2000s - present day
The 2000s began with the launch of the Performance Series for school concert band and string orchestra, featuring innovative original works and arrangements, organized by grade level for directors’ ease of use. In 2008, BriLee Music joined the Carl Fischer choral catalog.
Carl Fischer Music led the industry in developing free educational resources for school music directors and transitioning from paper-based mailings to digital-only packages detailing yearly new releases of band, orchestra, and choral music. New and dynamic series have been launched successfully, such as Progressive Duets, The Guitar and Bass Grimoire, The ABCs of Strings, Compatible Duets for Winds, I Used to Play, Protocol: A Guide to the Collegiate Audition Process, and the My First editions of classic methods. Carl Fischer Music also continues to release enhanced editions of essential methods such as the Wohlfahrt Violin Studies, the Rose Studies for Flute and Clarinet, and many others. Former TMEA president and active educator Denise Eaton joined the editorial team in 2011 as choral editor.
Carl Fischer Music is under the leadership of CEO Sonya Kim. After 140 years, the company remains a family-owned business, publishing both performance and educational music for today’s students, teachers, and virtuosos. Composers and editors give clinics and sessions all over the country, and the company is proud to serve more than 1,400 retailers around the world. In 2013 the Carl Fischer Music administrative offices moved to 48 Wall Street, helping to revitalize downtown New York City.