Carl Fischer Music celebrated its 145th anniversary in 2017, looking back fondly on its origins as an instrument repair shop on East 4th Street in Manhattan. Well over a hundred years later, we continue to publish new educational and concert music for every instrument and voicing. We are honored to lead the industry into this era of new technology and business practices, and humbly thank composers, retailers, educators, and instrumentalists for being part of our rich history.
A brief history of our company follows…
1870s into the 20th century
- In 1872, Carl Fischer (1849-1923) opened his musical instrument repair shop in the East Village neighborhood of New York City. He supplied musicians with sheet music and instruments from Europe; meanwhile supplementing his income with professional engagements as a violinist in several orchestras and bands throughout the city.
- Fischer’s experiences as a musician made him particularly aware of the lack of printed music available for the many odd-sized orchestras and bands that existed at the time. He first reproduced his arrangements in longhand with permission, and later adopted the lithographic process. By adding an engraver and an arranger to his staff, Fischer had officially entered the music publishing business.
- Carl Fischer became the preeminent publisher of music for concert band composers such as Percy Grainger, John Philip Sousa and the famous transcriptions of Eric Leidzen and Mayhew Lake.
- As the company grew and diversified, Fischer’s son Walter S. joined the team.
- 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, 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, opposite Carnegie Hall. 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, and Cundy-Bettoney, and acquired the Eastman School of Music catalog (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 Connor became President and Chairman of the Board, as well as Chairman of Boosey and Hawkes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hayden Connor, the great grandson of founder Carl Fischer and Walter Connor’s brother, succeeded Walter as chairman in 1999. Carl Fischer Music moved its corporate headquarters to Bleecker Street 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 2004, Carl Fischer Music joined forces with Theodore Presser Company under common ownership, sharing rental and warehousing functions, while maintaining separate identities and publishing schedules.
- In 2008, BriLee Music joined the Carl Fischer choral catalog. BriLee is a small but formidable choral publisher with a fiercely loyal customer base of middle school choral directors, and remains the go-to source for developing choirs.
- 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. Our composers and editors give clinics and sessions all over the country, and the company is proud to serve more than 1400 retailers around the world.
- In 2013 the Carl Fischer Music administrative offices moved to 48 Wall Street, helping to revitalize downtown New York City.