B&H Timeline

Boosey & Hawkes is an international music company with a long history and a reputation for excellence and innovation. As well as being the world’s leading specialist classical music publisher, Boosey & Hawkes has a growing roster of jazz musicians and an expanding division providing music for film, TV and advertising.

International Offices


Company History

London map, 18th century

1792 John Boosey opens London bookshop

The Boosey & Sons shop in Old Bond Street opens with a lending library. John Boosey’s grandson Thomas expands the musical side of the business with local favourites and imported scores by Rossini, Hummel, Donizetti and Verdi
Music at a London soirée, 19th century

1850 Boosey & Co - purveyor of music and instruments

Thomas Boosey's son John responds to the Victorian appetite for parlour music and provides affordable editions of the classics. Begins manufacturing wind and brass instruments. 1867 sees the launch of the highly popular Boosey Ballad Concerts, which run for 70 years with premieres including Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance Marches and Delius’s Sea Drift.
William Hawkes

1865 William Hawkes forms new music company

William Henry Hawkes, Queen Victoria’s head trumpeter, retires from service and joins forces with the French bandmaster Jules Rivière. Their new company in Soho Square specialises in military instruments, accessories and sheet music, trading across the British Empire.
Programme cover from Carnegie Hall, c.1900

1892 Boosey & Co opens New York office

The new office serves the increasingly active music world in America. Opera stars, instrumental virtuosi and conductors appear regularly at the Metropolitan Opera and the new Carnegie Hall, opened in 1891.
Leslie Boosey & Ralph Hawkes

1930 Boosey & Co and Hawkes & Son join forces

Rather than wage a price war, Leslie Boosey and Ralph Hawkes agree to merge the two rival businesses, creating Boosey & Hawkes. International trading links are developed with publishers in Vienna and Paris. To answer the decline in music sales due to the ‘talkies’ the Cavendish recorded music library is founded.
Benjamin Britten © Roland Haupt/Britten-Pears Foundation

1935-40 Britten, Copland and Bartók sign

Hawkes signs the 22-year-old Benjamin Britten and the company’s first American composer, Aaron Copland. New contracts are agreed with the Hungarians Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók, the company representing the latter also as a pianist during his USA exile.
Igor Stravinsky (image courtesy of D.J.Culver)

1945 Koussevitzky catalogue acquired

Acquiring Serge Koussevitzky's catalogue brings masterworks by Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff and Prokofieff to Boosey & Hawkes. Also in the 1940s, the company promotes wartime concerts at the Wigmore Hall, rescues Covent Garden as an operatic venue, builds upon the premiere of Britten’s Peter Grimes, and signs Richard Strauss.
Steve Reich © Wonge Bergmann

1982-88 American signings: Bernstein to Reich

The post-war period brings a new contract with Stravinsky and publishing relationships with Prokofieff and Shostakovich. Over following decades a contemporary music catalogue is established with the young Peter Maxwell Davies and leading American composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, Steve Reich and John Adams.
Boosey & Hawkes head office, Aldwych, London

2003 Instrument business sold: focus on publishing

With the sale of its instrument division, Boosey & Hawkes recasts itself solely as a publishing company. To complement its catalogue of leading classical composers, a roster of jazz musicians is built including Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis. The new century brings an expansion of music for film, TV and advertising and new initiatives in the digital arena.
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