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The Musical Courier

(New York, 1880-1881, 1883-1926 [-1961, forthcoming])

RIPM Preservation Series: European and North American Music Periodicals (2020)

Editors: William E. Nickerson, Marc A. Blumenburg and Otto Floersheim

Publisher: Howard Lockwood, Musical Courier Company

Periodicity: Weekly

Language: English

Previous Titles:
Musical And Sewing Machine Gazette;
Musical and Sewing Machine Courier;
Musical and Dramatic Courier

Lacunae: Vol. 1 no. 18; Vol. 13 no. 11; Vol. 26 no. 22; Vol. 27 no. 6. A copy of these issues could not be located.

All issues for 1894-1926, totaling some 89,000 additional pages, newly added in November 2021.

"Briefly stated, the principal function of [widely-distributed American music journals in 1931] was to supply musical information to a general, rather than musically unsophisticated audience: articles, when not communicating news, most often were neither technical nor scholarly; pictorial material was plentiful. Correspondence, editorials, biographies, and advertisements usually appeared, forming, in their cumulations, volumes of prodigious size.

The Musical Courier manifested most of these features. Typical columns were 'Piano and Musical Instruments' and 'Music in Schools and Colleges'; educational articles of a mildly didactic nature also appeared. Most striking, however, was the sheer volume of information provided: from every corner of the country appeared reports and announcements — a veritable floodtide. Performance reviews, typical of this period, were uncritical — nearly always only words of praise. The journal offered a panoramic view of the vast spectrum of musical life in the United States."

Charles Lindahl, "Music Periodicals in U. S. Research Libraries in 1931: A Retrospective Survey Part III: The United States." Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 38, no. 2 (December 1981): 322.


The appearance of the Courier in conjunction with the Sewing Machine Gazette soon changed to separate issuance and from that time the paper [Musical Courier] ran its own course. From the beginning the Courier was intended to be a news paper representing the piano and organ trades. In the early numbers can be found accounts of early piano manufacturing in the United States, information on pipe organs, and sewing machine developments. A serialized article on "The History of Musical Pitch" by Alexander J. Ellis began in the issue of March 27, 1880, and ran until February 5, 1881.

Very soon in its life the Courier moved from strictly trade affairs to include subjects of general musical interest. Not all the expansion came at one time: a band and orchestra department for both musicians and dealers (March 27, 1880); a correspondence department and a drama department (May 21, 1880). Subtitle changes denoted the shift of orientation. On April 3, 1880— 'A Weekly Paper Devoted to the Piano, Organ and Musical Instrument Trades'; on November 12, 1880— 'A Weekly Paper Devoted to Music and the Drama'. It was a matter of nearly three full years before the direction the Courier was to take was finally determined, and this finally came about through a change of ownership. Otto Floersheim and Marc A. Blumenberg purchased the magazine and issued the first number under their management on January 3, 1883; and at the same time resumed an earlier title, The Musical Courier, A Weekly Paper Devoted to Music and the Music Trade. They divided the paper into two large sections, one to be devoted to music as an art, the other to the music trade. Articles and news about events and developments in the trade, principally the piano and organ manufacturing business, filled the trade section while articles on music, musical news from Europe and the United States, organ notes and notices of new music comprised the art section. As time went on the paper added departments, which in turn meant the increase of pages, so that by 1895 the Courier was running at about forty-eight pages.

Mary Veronica Davison, "American Music Periodicals, 1853-1899." Ph. D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1973: 125-26.

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