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Company 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 an expanding division providing music for film, TV and advertising.

International Offices

Company Timeline

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 2003: Instrument business sold: focus on publishing
    With the sale of its instrument division, Boosey & Hawkes recasts itself solely as a publishing company. The new century brings an expansion of music for film, TV and advertising and new initiatives in the digital arena. Boosey & Hawkes is acquired in 2008 by the Dutch music publishing fund Imagem Music, which further expands through the acquisition of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization.
  • 2017: Boosey & Hawkes joins Concord
    With Concord’s purchase of the Imagem Music Group in 2017, Boosey & Hawkes is welcomed as Concord’s first classical music publishing business, joined in 2019 by Sikorski Music Publishing. Concord is now the independent, worldwide leader in the development, management and acquisition of sound recordings, music publishing and theatrical performance rights and narrative content, representing more than one million songs, composed works, plays, musicals and active recordings.

More Information > Detailed company history

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