Pocket Manual of Musical Terms, 1914

Today’s pint-sized book was given to my mother by total accident after she purchased that Cron-Kills secretary at the very first estate sale I went to.  This little guy was tucked away in a drawer.


I’ve always been musically inclined (after playing piano for 8 years, flute and piccolo for 5 years, and acoustic guitar here and there, I guess I should be!), but after seeing some of the words (and phonetic pronunciations!) in this book, I’m thinking I should have taken a music theory class!  I never knew there were so many crazy words to describe musical the components of a musical composition!

This book would be a really neat gift for all those middle school students in band, pre-iphone/tablet/any other internet device, because it has everything you ever wanted to know jam packed into 176 pages!

Introductory page



Gustav Schirmer immigrated to New York in 1837 at the age of 8.  German-born with musical parents, they sent him to work in the music house of Scharfenberg and Luis.  Gustav worked his way up, and in 1861 purchased a music publishing company, which he named G. Schirmer.  By 1891, Schirmer was the nation’s leading music publisher.  Gustav Schirmer died in 193, but his sons continued the business, making it a bigger success as time went on.  The company began to specialize in American composers, publishing over 18,000 works a year by 1906.   In 1968, the company was sold to Macmillan publishers, who sold the company to Robert Wise in 1986.

The little crest on the back cover of the book is a testament to their love for music, and their dedication to providing music for musicians: ‘the solace of labor is sweet.’


All you musical kids out there should be happy to know that you can still purchase Schirmer’s Pocket Manual of Musical Terms in a nice little paperback, but, of course, I think my copy is cooler.

Further Reading:

Robinson, John. “Fit to Print: A “Hyperhistory” of the current state of American music publishing.” New Music Box. 1 February 2000. Web. 15 October 2013 http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/Fit-To-Print-A-Hyperhistory-of-the-Current-State-of-American-Music-Publishing/10/

Miller, Tom. “The 1892 G. Schirmer Publishing Bldg. — No. 108 East 16th Street.” Daytonian in Manhattan. 22 June 2012. Weblog. 15 October 2013 http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2012/06/1892-g-schirmer-publishing-bldg-no-108.html


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Filed under 1910s, Books

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