History of Boosey & Hawkes
Boosey & Hawkes originated from the 1930 merger between two great family businesses, Boosey & Company founded in the 1760s, and Hawkes & Son founded in 1865. Both were involved in music publishing and the manufacture of musical instruments. From 1930 the merged company continued this twin business activity for many decades until 2003 when the instrument division was sold, leaving Boosey & Hawkes focusing solely on music publishing.
For a lively and detailed history of the company we recommend you read Boosey & Hawkes: The publishing story by Helen Wallace.
Also view our short Timeline of the company's history.
Boosey & Company's history goes back over 200 years to the 1760s when John Boosey founded a music lending library in London. By pioneering inexpensive editions of the classics, the company expanded rapidly, acquiring the rights to works by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi.
In the 1850s the company branched out into making brass and wind instruments. 1867 saw the launch of the renowned Boosey Ballad Concerts, including such favourites as The Lost Chord by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Danny Boy and Abide with Me. This success continued with the publication of works by Elgar and Vaughan Williams. In 1892 Boosey & Company established an office in New York, a business still flourishing today as Boosey & Hawkes Inc.
Hawkes & Son was founded in 1865 by William Henry Hawkes. The company followed a rival course to Boosey & Company, concentrating on band and orchestral music publishing, but also diversifying into the manufacture of instruments, fittings and reeds. Over the next 60 years, the company continued to develop its publishing activities.
20th Century Classics
Following the 1930 merger, the new company rapidly became a significant force on the international publishing scene. By this time Ralph Hawkes had acquired the agencies of Belaieff, Édition Russe de Musique, Gutheil and Universal Edition. Through these connections, prior to the Second World War, he became the publisher of Bartók, Kodály and Delius, as well as signing the then unknown Benjamin Britten in 1935. Hawkes moved to the USA during the war, adding Stravinsky, Copland and Martinu to the list.
Through his contacts, the London company signed a contract with Richard Strauss in 1943 for all his operatic works (outside Germany and Italy) and subsequently for all his late works. Hawkes' final coup was to buy Serge Koussevitzky's Édition Russe and Gutheil catalogues in 1947, thus securing many of the most important copyrights of the century, including Stravinsky's ballets The Rite of Spring and Petrushka, Prokofieff's Classical Symphony, Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.
As its publishing portfolio grew, Boosey & Hawkes added to its London and New York offices further international offices including an Australian company in 1934 (closed in 2004) and another in Germany in 1949. In addition to the three current affiliates in London, New York and Berlin there are now Boosey & Hawkes agencies in 20 other countries.
Into the 21st Century
The company has continued to publish the works of major composers including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Elliott Carter, Louis Andriessen, Steve Reich, H M Górecki, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and John Adams, and a younger generation of composers including Unsuk Chin, Magnus Lindberg, James MacMillan and Mark-Anthony Turnage.
In 1996, Boosey & Hawkes acquired the distinguished German publishing house, Bote & Bock. A family-owned business which was founded in Berlin in 1838, Bote & Bock has a fine catalogue of works by renowned figures such as Richard Strauss, Pietro Mascagni, Max Reger, Boris Blacher, Gottfried von Einem and Isang Yun. Bote & Bock's historical association with the music of Offenbach prompted the launch of the Offenbach Edition Keck, an authoritative new edition of Offenbach's works edited by Jean-Christophe Keck, which is now being employed in opera houses around the world and has attracted numerous prizes for its publishing excellence.
The second important step in the creation of a significant German publishing centre was the acquisition in 2002 of the Anton J. Benjamin catalogue with its Simrock editions of Brahms and Dvorák. New composing talent is also published from the Berlin office including Michel van der Aa, Brett Dean, Detlev Glanert, Olga Neuwirth and Helmut Oehring.
Further catalogues acquired by Boosey & Hawkes in recent years include Tempo (Prague) in 2004, with its range of Czech music including the children's opera Brundibár, and the French catalogue Jaune Citron in 2005 featuring tango music by Astor Piazzolla. In 2006 Boosey & Hawkes in New York launched a jazz catalogue, signing Chick Corea, David Benoit and Andrew Hill, and taking on the representation of Second Floor Music, a historic jazz standards catalogue.