Publisher Spotlight: G. Schirmer

If you’re a classically trained musician, you know the G. Schirmer publications.  Even if that name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, you would recognize the iconic yellow cover with the green border and type. That’s because they have been used by teachers and students for decades. So what makes the G. Schirmer editions so timeless? Sheet Music Plus interviewed Rick Walters, Vice President of Classical and Vocal Publications at the Hal Leonard Corporation to find out.

When was G. Schirmer founded?

The company was founded in 1861 in New York City by Gustav Schirmer, an immigrant from Germany. In 1892 the familiar yellow cover series, Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics, was begun. This was the first major attempt to create American editions of standard masterworks. With over 1000 volumes still in print, the series is very much alive.

There is more to G. Schirmer than the “Library,” right?

Much more. In the early decades of the twentieth century, Schirmer began signing composers and since then has been involved in developing the careers of many composers, particularly American composers, including Samuel Barber, John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, John Harbison, John Jacob Niles, Gian Carlo Menotti, Virgil Thomson, and many more.

Beyond composer works, there is a vast amount of Schirmer choral and band publications, solo instrumental works not in the “Library,” opera vocal scores, and vocal music.

What is the Hal Leonard relationship to Schirmer?

Hal Leonard has been exclusive distributor of G. Schirmer publications since 1986. G. Schirmer publications are developed at Hal Leonard.

What makes G. Schirmer so popular among students and teachers?

The vast array of material is part of the answer, with literature spanning centuries, and including many of the standard etude books, particularly for piano and violin, that students always need. The “Library” is recognizable and familiar. Teachers who were taught from these editions teach their students from them, and the tradition is passed on. Also, retail prices on the “Library” volumes are studied carefully and kept deliberately affordable for students.

What are some pieces you publish that you really think musicians should know about?

Student pianists will find many wonderful pieces exploring the music of Dmitri Kabalevsky, far beyond those most often played. We have many new editions and collections of his music.

Composer Tan Dun’s piano suite Eight Memories in Watercolors has become a staple of contemporary literature.

Any serious flutist should know the Robert Mucynski Sonata, Op. 14.

The Samuel Barber Canzone is wonderfully haunting, and comes in a version for violin and piano, and a version for flute and piano.



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