American firm of music publishers and music dealers. It made woodwind and brass instruments, pianos and guitars, and imported a wide variety of musical goods. Based in New York, it was among the most important of American music publishers, producing material for church, home, concert hall, school and military bands; it was also one of the few firms in the USA to publish European classical music. It published some of the better-known American composers such as Gottschalk and H.C. Work, songs by Stephen Foster and tunes made popular by Christy’s Minstrels.
The firm’s principal partners were John Firth (b Yorkshire, 1 Oct 1789; d Newtown, Long Island, 10 Sept 1864), William Hall (b Sparta, NY, 13 May 1796; d New York, 3 May 1874) and Sylvanus Billings Pond (b Milford, MA, 5 April 1792; d Brooklyn, NY, 12 March 1871). Firth emigrated to the USA about 1810 and learnt to make flutes and fifes in the shop of Edward Riley. Hall was apprenticed to a musical instrument maker in Albany and went to work for Riley in New York about 1812. Pond also went to Albany in his youth, engaging in the commercial music business first independently and then in partnership with John Meacham.
Firth set up a business at 8 Warren Street, New York, in 1815, and Hall did so on Wooster Street in 1820; in 1820 they formed a partnership at 362 Pearl Street. In 1832 they were joined by Sylvanus Pond and moved to 1 Franklin Square. Pond wrote many Sunday school songs and some secular music. HisUnion Melodies for Sunday school singing and The United States Psalmody (1841) for choirs and singing societies were very successful. The firm continued until 1833 when Pond left the business for a few years, returning in 1837; his name appeared again in the company name from 1842 onwards.
In 1834 the firm began investing in the woodwind-making firm of Camp & Hopkins in Litchfield, CT, completing the purchase by 1845. They also established a piano factory at Williamsburg, Long Island, and in 1845 acquired additional space at 239 Broadway. When the firm was dissolved in 1847, William Hall & Son occupied 239 Broadway, and Firth, Pond & Co., who published most of Stephen Foster’s songs, continued at 1 Franklin Square. A further split in 1863 resulted in the firms of Firth, Son & Co. and William A. Pond & Co. (son of Sylvanus B. Pond). In 1867 Firth, Son & Co., and in 1875 William Hall & Son, were acquired by Oliver Ditson. William A. Pond & Co. continued into the 20th century.
For illustration seeEmmett, Dan
F.O. Jones, ed.: A Handbook of American Music and Musicians (New York, 1886/R)
D. Spillane: History of the American Pianoforte (New York, 1890/R)
W.A. Fisher: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Music Publishing in the United States: an Historical Study with Special Reference to the Pioneer Publishers, Oliver Ditson Co. 1783–1933 (Boston, MA, 1933/R)
J.T. Howard: Stephen Foster, America’s Troubadour (New York, 1934, 3/1962)
S. Saunders: ‘A Publication History of Stephen Foster’s “Massa’s in de Cold Ground”’, Notes, xliii (1986–7), 499–521
N. Groce: Musical Instrument Makers of New York (Stuyvesant, NY, 1991), 51–3
ROBERT E. ELIASON
F. SeePitch nomenclature.
(bBudapest, 9 Sept 1949). Hungarian conductor. He studied at the Kodály School in Budapest and went on to study conducting and the piano at the Bela Bartók Conservatory, also working with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and Franco Ferrara in Venice and Siena. He held posts at Graz (1971–2), St Pölten (1972–3) and the Vienna Staatsoper, where he was assistant conductor in 1973–4. In 1973 he won the Guido Cantelli International Conducting Competition at La Scala, Milan, and the following year was appointed music director at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki. Similar posts followed at the Karlsruhe Opera (1977–9), Freiburg (1981–4) and the Kassel Opera (1987–92). Fischer made his début at the Paris Opéra in 1984 in Der Rosenkavalier, conducted Die Zauberflöte at La Scala in 1986 and made his Covent Garden début in Die Fledermaus in 1989. In 1990 he conducted the first performance of Wolfgang von Schweinitz's Patmos. Fischer is the founder and music director of the International Haydn Festival at Eisenstadt and has recorded the complete Haydn symphonies with the festival's resident Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra. Outstanding among his other recordings are several works by Bartók, notably Bluebeard's Castle, which he has recorded both for CD (with the Hungarian State Orchestra) and for BBC TV.
(b Budapest, 5 July 1914; d Budapest, 10 April 1995). Hungarian pianist. She studied at the Liszt Academy of Music with Arnold Szekely and Dohnányi. She made her début at the age of ten playing Beethoven’s First Concerto, and two years later played Mozart’s Concerto in A k488 and the Schumann Concerto with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zürich. In 1933 she won the Franz Liszt International Competition in Budapest, astonishing both the jury and the audience with the maturity and brilliance of her performance of Liszt’s B minor Sonata. She embarked on an international career, interrupted by the war years which she spent mainly in Sweden. In 1949, 1955 and 1965 she received Hungary’s highest cultural award, the Kossuth Prize. Fischer made her American début in 1961, playing Mozart’s Concerto in E k482 with Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra; but although she toured throughout the world she remained essentially a European-based artist. She performed the complete cycle of Beethoven concertos with Klemperer at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
Fischer established a reputation as a pianist of unique visionary intensity. Her range of keyboard colour was wide, her command of structure formidable. Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert were central to her repertory, but she could be equally masterly in Schumann, Chopin and Brahms. Inspirational and unpredictable, she disliked recording. But her discs of Mozart’s concertos k467 and k482 and of works by Bartók, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann are exceptional. A recording of Chopin’s G minor Ballade taken ‘live’ from a Moscow recital in 1949 shows her at her most volatile and thrillingly spontaneous. The depth and spiritual serenity she achieved on her great days in, say, the finale of Schumann’s C major Phantasie, were peculiarly her own; and in her performance of the fugue from Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, offered as an encore at her final London appearance, she showed herself incandescent to the last. Fischer recorded the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas for Hungaroton over a number of years, but intensely self-critical as ever, she disapproved of their issue.