J.W. Herbert & Co.

J.W. Herbert & Co. Montreal publishing, retailing, and instrument-building firm, active from the mid-1830s to 1861. It built and repaired pianos and organs as early as 1837, when La Minerve (1 Jun 1837) printed testimonial letters on behalf of one of the partners, William Dennis.

J.W. Herbert & Co.

J.W. Herbert & Co. Montreal publishing, retailing, and instrument-building firm, active from the mid-1830s to 1861. It built and repaired pianos and organs as early as 1837, when La Minerve (1 Jun 1837) printed testimonial letters on behalf of one of the partners, William Dennis. By 1842 the company was established as a dealer in both instruments and music, with wide connections in Europe and the USA. The firm's publications probably began to appear in the late 1840s. The Herbert imprint often is in a secondary position on sheet-music covers, and in all known cases but one a US firm is the primary publisher. Moreover, those publications issued solely by Herbert often bear US plate numbers. Only 3 of the 13 known ones were printed in Canada, and those by John Lovell. Nevertheless the majority of Herbert publications were by Canadian composers, and on Canadian themes, eg, Les Bords du St-Laurent by Patrick O'Leary and Maple Leaf Polka Mazurka and Snow Shoe Tramp by Harold F. Palmer. The most 'Canadian' compositions of all, Joseph Maffré's Original Canadian Quadrilles (1847) based on traditional Canadian airs, were published in New York by Firth & Hall in collaboration with Herbert. The cover of the collection depicts a beaver and maple leaves, Canadian emblems appearing perhaps for the first time on sheet music. Indeed, Herbert publications are among the first in Canada to have been issued with illustrated covers. Of particular interest for content, design, colour, and execution is the cover of Charles d'Albert's Grand Trunk Waltzes, featuring the Victoria Bridge (completed in 1859, officially opened in 1860).


Further Reading

  • Music Publishing in the Canadas