Publishing and Printing | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Publishing and Printing

From 1800, when the first music is known to have been printed in Canada, until the late 20th century music publications have appeared in three distinct formats: in volumes, such as collections of church music, of songs, or of instructive material, often issued by book publishers rather than music publishers; in newspapers and magazines, usually in special supplements (see Periodicals, in which entry such magazines are identified); and as separate pieces of sheet music or albums devoted to single compositions or composers. The earliest known dates in each category, all from Quebec City or Montreal, are 1800 (see Le Graduel romain), 19 Sep 1831 (the song 'La Parisienne' in the Montreal newspaper La Minerve after its publisher Ludger Duvernay had bought a set of music fonts in New York), and 1818 when FrederickHund advertised in the Quebec Mercury (ad dated 1 August) his engraved publication of The Berlin Waltz and the imminent publication of a set of New German Waltzes. Since neither has been located, it is necessary to cite 1840 as the date of the earliest surviving sheet music ('Le Dépit amoureux' by Napoléon Aubin and Deux Valses by Charles Sauvageau, lithographed by Aubin of Quebec City, and 'The Merry Bells of England' by John F. Lehmann, typeset by John Lovell of Montreal). With respect to sheet music publishing it should be noted, however, that John Neilson had begun to prepare the vocal score of Quesnel'sColas et Colinette for print in 1809 but abandoned the project after the composer's death. An advertisement in the Quebec City Gazette in 1818 offers for sale the bandmaster Alexander Kyle's March dedicated to the Duke of Richmond, and a year later J.-C. Brauneis II advertised an overture and a piano piece. No copies of the music have been found and it is possible that these composers sold handwritten copies on demand. Besides Hund, another early music engraver was T.G. Preston of Montreal who signed as the engraver and printer in 1821 of A Selection from the Psalms of David by George Jenkins (Music Publishing in the Canadas, 1800-1867, p 12, 14). In any case, the dependence of Canadian musicians on US publishers, evident from such examples as Alexander Duff's Montreal Bazaar Waltz (New York, ca 1830) or 'O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,' 'as sung by the Indians of the Upper Canada Mission' (Baltimore, ca 1831), demonstrates the inadequacy of local publishing facilities before 1840.

Probably the first musical notation to have been published in Upper Canada (Ontario) was a foldout of typeset, 'Bugle sounds,' printed on both sides, in A System of Drill for the Militia of Upper Canada, published by Robert Stanton of York (Toronto) in 1830; the second the Colonial Harmonist, a church music collection edited and published by Mark Burnham in Port Hope in 1832. By the 1850s sheet music publishing flourished on a modest scale, and by 1867, the year of Confederation, some 600 works by Canadian and foreign composers had been published. Among the publishers were William Cunnabell (providing an early example of sheet music in serial form with the monthly Psalmody Reformer begun in Halifax in 1853), Peiler, Sichel & Co, E.G. Fuller, and J.P. Hagarty of Halifax, NS, J. & A. McMillan and G.F. De Vine of Saint John, NB, J. & O. Crémazie (principally booksellers) and Robert Morgan of Quebec City, Adélard J. Boucher, J.W. Herbert, John Lovell (best known as a directory publisher), and Henry Prince of Montreal, A. & S. Nordheimer of Toronto, and Peter Grossman of Hamilton, Ont. Only Boucher and Nordheimer were to survive into the 20th century as music publishers. But although the firms have changed, certain aspects of the business have remained remarkably stable. First, the quantity of titles issued annually has remained between 100 and 300, with the largest production in the decades 1890-1920, when Whaley Royce of Toronto and Joseph-Émile Bélair (LePasse-Temps) of Montreal boasted the largest catalogues. Secondly, in the majority of cases publishing has been a side activity, economically speaking, to the importing and retailing of foreign music and of instruments. Thirdly, the choice of music for publication always has emphasized local needs, supplementing rather than duplicating the great classics of concert and popular music which form the basis of European and US publishing. (A large proportion of the outputs of most publishers has consisted of Canadian editions of fashionable foreign compositions.) Another aspect which has not changed in more than a hundred years is the primacy of the Toronto region in publishing, established by Nordheimer's early lead in the field.

Within this relatively constant framework, however, there have been profound changes. Thus the 19th-century output of sheet music consisted mostly of songs and salon pieces for use at the parlour piano and for dancing, with smaller amounts destined for performance in churches, on concert platforms, or by bands. Local colour was supplied by the titles (see Composition, topical), and patriotic songs were in great vogue. While most music was well within the amateur performer's reach, special beginners' 'teaching pieces' rarely were published. On the other hand, 19th-century publishers produced a relatively large number of multi-page volumes of substantial works, eg, Telgmann'sLeo, the Royal Cadet, C.A.E. Harriss'Torquil, and the Count of Premio-Real's Seize Mélodies, to name but a few.

By contrast, mid-and late-20th-century production was destined primarily for the classroom, the church, or the teaching studio, with a small but significant amount for the concert hall. Competition festivals, conservatory examinations, choirs, school bands and orchestras provided the bulk of the publisher's market. Folksong anthologies and pop music folios also formed an important part of some publishers' catalogues. Only a small part of the concert music written in Canada was published, however, owing to the discrepancy between high printing costs and the small domestic demand and to the difficulty Canadian firms without foreign connections experienced when they attempted to break into the international market. However, several mid-20th-century music houses did have foreign ties, eg, the Canadian branches or sister companies of Boosey & Hawkes, Leeds, Oxford University Press, and G. Ricordi. Of the purely Canadian firms, BMI Canada (see PRO Canada) took the lead in publishing Canadian concert music from 1947 to 1969.

Three developments, in concert music, popular music, and music reproduction, marked music publishing after 1960.

The publishing of extended concert works, in particular of those for orchestra, chamber ensemble, and the operatic stage, was beyond the possibilities of commercial firms since the majority of such works did not receive enough repeat performances to allow the publisher to recoup the cost of printing the work. Promotion is also expensive, and is not helped by the almost complete absence of reviews of new scores in Canadian newspapers and even in music periodicals. This realization led to the establishment of the Canadian Music Centre for the sale or free circulation of scores and the rental of performance parts, reproduced from clear manuscript through photocopying. Commercial publishers continued nevertheless to produce the full scores and instrumental parts of concert works, sometimes with Canada Council financial support but in view of the great amount of music turned out after 1940, only an operation like that of the CMCentre has been able to provide access to the full range of the literature.

Aided financially by the provincial government, several Quebec publishers have been able to publish a substantial amount of concert music. Les Éditions Jacques Ostiguy Inc was established in 1978, Les Éditions Doberman-Yppan in 1978, and Les Éditions Québec-Musique in 1979 (taken over by Doberman-Yppan in the mid-1980s). On the negative side, the Canadian branches of foreign publishers have closed down (OUP music dept in 1973; Ricordi in 1975; Leeds/MCA in 1982) or curtailed their activities (Chappell; Peer Southern; even Boosey & Hawkes depends largely on its instrument trade). Of the Canadian-founded firms, Waterloo, Berandol and G.V. Thompson have reduced their publishing activities and Jarman closed down in 1980. La Bonne Chanson and Algord Music (Whaley Royce) continue to reprint earlier publications, and Leslie Music Supply, Boddington Music Publishing (Canadian Music Sales), and Sharrell (formerly Empire Music) carry on modest-sized operations.

The change in the field of popular music was on an international scale. It was brought about by the ascendancy of the sound recording as the prime means of disseminating such music. Whereas until the 1950s many popular songs were recorded only after the 'song plugger' had stimulated the sale of sheet music and distributed free copies to radio stations, now the reverse became true, and songs were printed only if and when the sale of recordings had established them as hits. Accordingly the very definition of the term 'music publisher' has changed. In addition to the conventional music firm that produces printed sheet music and albums for sale, there is now a music publisher who does little or nothing of this sort, but derives income from the legal control of the copyrights.

A third development has to do with music reproduction and copying technology. The practise of unauthorized photocopying of extra copies, in particular for school and choir use, has dealt conventional publishing a heavy blow. The same technology, however, made possible, by the late 1980s, computer desktop notation, editing, printing, and publishing as a 'cottage' industry. Thus several composers have established their own publishing companies, among them Michael Conway Baker, Michel-Georges Brégent, Samuel Dolin, Gary Kulesha, Oskar Morawetz, Clermont Pépin, Peter Ware and John Weinzweig. Dovehouse Editions (Bryan Gillingham) has edited and published a series of performance editions of medieval and renaissance music; and the Canadian Musical Heritage Society embarked in 1982 on the reprinting or first-time publication of Canadian music of historical interest.

Despite trends toward lesser dependence of the music lover on optical notation, publishing of printed music will remain a necessity for a long time. It is unlikely even that music reading will become a skill required only by professional musicians, for in order to harvest one professional, a school or conservatory has to train tenor others who will eventually turn to other vocations, and yet all will require notated music.


EMC provides individual entries for the publishing firms listed below. In many of the entries reference will be found to the use or non-use of plate numbers, the numbers (often preceded by initials) found at the bottom of each page of music. While serving the publisher as a purely internal housekeeping device, these numbers are invaluable to the researcher and collector in establishing the volume and chronology of a company's production and in identifying relationships to foreign publishers.

Alliance chorale canadienne

Anglo-Canadian Music Company

Archambault Musique

Edwin Ashdown Ltd

Berandol Music Ltd

W.H. Billing

La Bonne Chanson

Boosey & Hawkes (Canada) Ltd

A.J. Boucher

William Briggs

Canadian Music Sales Corporation

Chatillon, Jean

Conservatoire national de musique

A. Cox & Co

J. & O. Crémazie

C.C. De Zouche

W.R. Draper Co Ltd

École Vincent-d'Indy

Édition Belgo-Canadienne

Éditions Doberman-Yppan

Éditions Jacques Ostiguy

Éditions Québec-Musique

Fassio, Angelo

Galipeau Musique Inc

Hardy, Edmond

Frederick Harris Music Co Ltd

Heintzman & Co Ltd

J.W. Herbert & Co.

Imrie & Graham

Irving's Canadian Series of Five Cent Music

Jarman Publications Ltd

Jaymar Music Ltd

E.C. Kerby Ltd

Laurent, Laforce & Bourdeau

Lavigne, Arthur

Leeds Music (Canada)

Leslie Music Supply

L'Herbier, Robert

Robert Morgan


Neilson, John

Neufeld, Kornelius

A. & S. Nordheimer

Oxford University Press

Le Passe-Temps

Peer-Southern Organization (Canada) Ltd

Henry Prince

Procure générale de musique Ltée

G. Ricordi & Co (Canada) Ltd

Sharrell Music Publishers Ltd

H.H. Sparks Music Co

Strange & Co

I. Suckling & Sons

Gordon V. Thompson Ltd

Warner/Chappell Music Canada Ltd

Waterloo Music Co Ltd

Western Music Co Ltd

Whaley, Royce & Co Ltd

See also Canadian Music Publishers Association; CAPAC; Copyright; Hymns and hymn tunes; Manuscript books; PRO Canada; SOCAN; Songbooks, school; Theory textbooks.


Lists of Publications
Complete List of Canadian Copyright Musical Compositions (entered from 1868 to January 19th, 1889), compiled from the Official Register at Ottawa (no publisher; no place of publication 1889)

NL of C. Canadiana (Ottawa 1950-; monthly national bibliography; scores listed 1953-; microfiche version, monthly with annual cummulations, 1978-)

CMLA. Musical Canadiana: A Subject Index (Ottawa 1967)

BN du Q. Bibliographie du Québec (Quebec 1968-; monthly bibliography)

Jarman, Lynne, ed. Canadian Music: A Selected Checklist 1950-73 (Toronto and Buffalo 1976)

Creelman, Gwendolyn et al. Canadian Music Scores and Recordings: A Classified Catalogue of the Holdings of Mount Allison University Libraries (Sackville, NB 1976)

Arcand, François. L'Industrie de la musique, 3 vols (Quebec City 1980)

O'Neill, Patrick B., ed. A Checklist of Canadian Copyright Deposits in the British Museum, 1895-1923, 2 vols (Halifax 1989)

The most comprehensive record of Canadian music publications is the National Library of Canada's unpublished Union List of Canadian Music Publications, pre-1951. Each of some 19,000 publications is entered by composer, title, date of publication, and name of publisher. The list also includes music by Canadian composers published in other countries; a glance at EMC's list of compositions for Lavallée, Whitehead, Willan, and others will explain the importance of this procedure. It may be of interest also to note that the first orchestral scores of Canadian music known to have been published were those of Couture's Rêverie (1875 by Girod in Paris), and of Lucas'As You Like It Overture (1899 by Chappell in London). The first full score published in Canada probably was that of Willan's orchestral accompaniment to 'O Canada' (B54), issued by F. Harris in 1941. The first miniature score was that of Murray Adaskin'sSerenade Concertante, published by G. Ricordi (Canada) in 1956. The first vocal score of a stage work to be published in Canada must have been Jean-Baptiste Labelle'sLa Conversion d'un pêcheur de la Nouvelle-Écosse (A.J. Boucher, ca 1868).

Studies and Articles

'Music publishing in Canada: a discussion,' ConsB (Nov 1948). Comments by Sir Ernest MacMillan, G. Ridout, B. Pentland.

[Darch, Robert]. Music and Paper (Toronto 1962)

Series of articles on individual publishers, issued intermittently, CanComp, 1-18, May 1965-May 1967

Kallmann, Helmut. 'Music Library Association digs up our musical past,' ibid, 11, Oct 1966

Chatillon, Jean. 'À la recherche de l'ancienne musique Québécoise,' VM, 9, Oct 1968

Hare, John. 'The beginnings of music printing in Lower Canada,' Canadian Notes and Queries, 5, May 1970

Kallmann, Helmut. 'Canadian music publishing,' Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada/Cahiers de la Société bibliographique du Canada, vol 13, 1974

Potvin, Gilles. 'L'édition musicale est morte,' Montreal Le Devoir, 29 Mar 1975

Dostie, Bruno. 'The changing scene: sheet music publishing in Quebec,' CanComp, 127, Jan 1978

Farrell, David. 'Industry lacking aggressive publishers,' MSc, 308, Jul-Aug 1979

Calderisi, Maria. 'Sheet music publishing in the Canadas,' The Bibliographical Society of Canada, Colloquium III 1978(Toronto 1979)

Frank, Alan, and Oliver, Michael. 'The publisher's role,' MSc, 312, Mar-Apr 1980

Thériault, Yves. 'Quebec music publishers view future with optimism,' MSc, 314, Jul-Aug 1980

Calderisi, Maria, '"Down East" music publishers: 1801-1900,' APLA Bulletin vol 49, Sep 1985

Préfontaine, Yves-G. 'L'Édition musicale au Québec en 1986,' Sonances, vol 5, Jan 1986

Harting, Lynn, and Bateman, Jeff. 'Concert music publishing: the pulse is weak, the prognosis optmistic,' MSc, 356, Jul/Aug 1987

LeBel, Jean-Marie, 'La musique sur papier,' Cap-aux-Diamants, vol 5, Summer 1989

'A profile of English-language music publishing in Canada: a report prepared for the Canadian Music Publishers Association,' (Toronto 1989)

Music Publishing in the Canadas, 1800-1867

Periodicals and Directories

Canadian Music Trades Journal (Toronto 1900-33)

Music Market Canada (Toronto 1977-)

CMPA. Directory, various editions (Toronto)

Guide du spectacle et du disque (Quebec 1978)

RPM. Canadian Music Industry Directory, annual (1965-80)

Canadian Music Industry Who's Who (Toronto 1976, 1977)

Music Directory Canada, annual (Toronto 1986-)

Radio-Activité. Les pages jaunes de l'industrie: la source de référence complète sur l'industrie de la musique, annual (Montreal 1987-)

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