Fit To Print: A “Hyperhistory” of the Current State of American Music Publishing

Fit To Print: A “Hyperhistory” of the Current State of American Music Publishing

Peermusic Classical, formerly Peer-Southern, was established in 1948 as an extension of Peer Music, the classical division of a company that had established itself in the fledgling Country and Latin industry in the U.S. Peermusic Classical, formerly Peer-Southern Concert Music, was established in 1948 as Henry Cowell was the main advisor in the beginning, and it was with his encouragement that Peer acquired a majority of Charles Ives‘s works in the early 1950s. In addition to Ives, Peermusic publishes such American-based composers as Lou Harrison, David Diamond, Michael Daugherty, Tania León, and the late Stefan Wolpe.

Peermusic works with a limited number of composers and tries to take on those composers’ entire output so as to maximize promotional opportunities. It has a small staff with administrative support from the larger company, and distribution of both its sales and rentals is handled in the U.S. by Theodore Presser Co. This relationship works for both partners, as Peermusic offers its composers a close working relationship while capitalizing on Presser’s distribution strength. Meanwhile, Presser is able to offer its customers a broader catalogue, with access to the treasures of the Ives and Revueltas catalogues plus a wide array of exciting new works of Jerome Kitzke, John Musto, Qu Xiao-song, Richard Wilson, Ian Krouse, and others.

Among the highlights of the year 2000 for the Peer composers in the U.S. are the world premiere performances of Daugherty’s Sunset Strip with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the New York premiere of his UFO with Evelyn Glennie and the New York Philharmonic; a number of performances of Morten Lauridsen‘s Lux Aeterna, including a performance by its commissioner, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the world premiere of movements from Ray Shattenkirk‘s The Sky Darkens by the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.

As Peermusic’s CEO Ralph Peer is keenly interested in owning recording masters as a way to enhance the publisher’s traditional role of copyright ownership, Peermusic Classical has embarked on a recording project with Koch International Classics. Thus far, discs have been produced for composers Jerome Kitzke, Lou Harrison, Richard Wilson, Ian Krouse, and José Serebrier (this last disc is on Reference Recordings). In the future, these will be available on Peermusic’s Internet site for digital downloads.

According to Peermusic’s Vice President Todd Vunderink, Director of Peermusic Classical, his department is fortunate to be part of a successful pop music publishing company. "Pops makes money, and we are lucky to have the company’s support. This division was created at a substantial initial investment for the prestige we would bring, and we have a great deal of autonomy." When asked about the possibility of one of the classical music composers attempting to bridge the gap between Peer’s popular and classical catalogues, Vunderink mentioned that Michael Daugherty has been intrigued by the possibility of producing symphonic arrangements of some of the Motown or Latin Pops entries in the Peer fold.

From Fit To Print: A “Hyperhistory” of the Current State of American Music Publishing
by John Robinson
© 2000 NewMusicBox

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