The firm of Marcus Witmark & Sons was established in New York City in 1886. The father, Marcus Witmark, was the legal head of the company; but from the beginning it was run by his sons Isidore, Julius, and Jay, who were under legal age when the company started (ranging in age from 17 to 14 years old). They started out publishing their own compositions. They were adept at plugging songs, and within a few years were publishing the works of such composers as Victor Herbert, George M. Cohan, Ben Harney and John Walter Bratton.
Witmark originated the practice of giving free "professional copies" of their new music to famous and established singers and bands, which proved so successful an advertising method that it was copied by the rest of the music publishers.
|Mar. 29, 1910|
|Married Peyser Oct. 4, 1866|
|Dec. 14, 1906|
|Apr. 19, 1941|
|Son||Julius ("Julie") Peyser|
|June 14, 1929|
|Mar. 31, 1872|
|One of the nine founding members|
of ASCAP in 1914
|Aug 3, 1948|
|Daughter||Frances Klein (Mrs. Joseph A. Klein) née Witmark||1874|
|Married Klein Jan. 11, 1905|
|July 15, 1926|
Succession of ownership
- In 1922, Sargent Aborn (1867–1956), brother of Milton Aborn (1864–1933), both of the Aborn Opera Company, acquired the Arthur W. Tams (1848–1927) music library, a collection that had become the largest circulating music library in the world — and by extension, Witmark's biggest competitor in the music-rental field. In January of 1925, M. Witmark & Sons acquired the music Tams library, ending 30 years of intense rivalry. The combined Tams-Witmark library, operating as the Tam-Witmark Music Library Inc. (a New York corporation) secured its position as the largest source of musical-comedy and operatic music for amateur and professional productions. Sargent Witmark was president of Tams-Witmark from its founding until his death in 1957. In 1942, Sargent Aborn and his son, Louis Henry Aborn (1912–2005), acquired the rights to the Tams Library. As of 2014, the co-chairmen were Robert Aborn Hut (born 1935) and Sargent Louis Aborn (born 1948) and the executive vice-president was Peter Aborn Hut (born 1940). All three are grandchildren of Sargent Aborn.
- In the 1960s, Tams-Witmark donated several lots of its old inventory to the special collections of 5 libraries known for music research: the Library of Congress, the Eastman School of Music, Westminster Choir College, and the largest part of its inventory to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, through the initiative of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research and the School of Music.
- The consolidation of Tams and Witmark mostly affected operatic music and musical theatre. It did not affect the separate concern of M. Witmark & Sons, music publishers, who continued publishing popular and classical music.
- In 1929, M. Witmark was purchased by Warner Bros. Warner Bros. merged its music publishing companies (which included Witmark, Remick, and Harms) into one company, Warner Bros. Music (now Warner/Chappell Music).
- In 2005, Alfred Music purchased Warner Bros. Publications — acquiring the rights to Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. and the EMI Catalogue Partnership. Through this deal, Alfred Music gained the print rights of publishers that include M. Witmark & Sons, Remick Music Corp., and T.B. Harms, Inc. Among the EMI holdings are the Robbins and Leo Feist catalogs, plus film music from United Artists, MGM, and 20th Century Fox.
Competitor music publishing firms in Tin Pan Alley