Gordon V. Thompson Music | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Gordon V. Thompson Music

Gordon V. Thompson Music. Toronto music publishing, distributing, and retailing firm established in 1932. It was preceded by Gordon V.

Gordon V. Thompson Music

Gordon V. Thompson Music. Toronto music publishing, distributing, and retailing firm established in 1932. It was preceded by Gordon V. Thompson's Revival Publishing Bureau (1909) and the Thompson Publishing Company (1911), which in 1919 was taken over by the US firm Leo Feist Ltd (remaining, however, under Thompson's management). Feist in turn was taken over by the NBC-owned Radio Music Co, and this name was adopted in Canada in 1930. When NBC found it advantageous to dissolve the company, Thompson purchased the Canadian branch in 1932, though the CPR and Associated Screen News held shares for some years. The company did business in the Heintzman building on Yonge St 1919-47, then occupied a midtown location on Yonge St, and eventually moved to Birch Ave. Gordon V. Thompson Ltd. was sold to the Canada Publishing Corporation in 1984, when its name was changed to Gordon V. Thompson Music, and in turn became a division of Warner/Chappell Music Canada in 1990.

After 1932 Thompson continued to distribute Feist's catalogue of popular songs and became distributor for the large US firm Carl Fischer Inc. He was one of the few music dealers in Canada to build an expanding enterprise during the Depression years. This was due in large part to his shrewd instinct for 'spotting a winner' and for recognizing trends in taste. Furthermore he cultivated community contacts, co-founding the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival and taking a great interest in the Canadian Bureau for the Advancement of Music. Thompson's promotion was significant in the careers of such country stars as Wilf Carter, Hank Snow, and Don Messer. Thompson put his own 'Quintuplets' Lullaby' on the market when the Dionne sisters were making front page news and acquired the copyright of Weir's English words for 'O Canada', which turned out to be the ones most widely accepted. (Thompson was generous in allowing other publishers to use Weir's text in songbooks and eventually offered its copyright to the government of Canada for $1. See also National and royal anthems.)

Thompson's success as a publisher of patriotic songs (in that period of World War I when Canada had joined the conflict but the USA had not, and US publishers had not begun to cash in on the war-song craze) was repeated in World War II. He acquired the North American rights to 'There'll Always Be an England' (selling 130,000 copies) and issued two Canadian songs that became widely sung among the Allies: Ernest Dainty's 'Carry On' (written in 1928 but not a hit until the war) and Freddie Grant's 'You'll Get Used to It'. Successful peacetime acquisitions were the copyright for 'The Blue and White' and Gimby's 'CA-NA-DA' of 1967.

In the 1930s the firm had begun to publish educational materials, from instruction books to vocal, choral, band, and orchestral music. For school and community use Thompson supplied Canadian adaptations of US community songbooks (Canada Sings, 1935; Merrily We Sing, 1935; Sociability Songs, 1937) in addition to J.M. Gibbon's Northland Songs (1936, 1938), Canada in Song (with Leslie Bell, 1941), and Pioneer Songs of Canada (with Irvin Cooper, 1941). The Dominion Piano Class Books (first printed in 1935) by Margery M. and Peter C. Kennedy, Don Wright's textbook series Youthful Voices (1940, 1964), the theory books by Frederick J. Horwood, and the series Let's Explore Music edited by G. Roy Fenwick and Richard Johnston are educational publications which have had wide use. Thompson began publishing Gena Branscombe in 1930, Carmen Lombardo in 1932, Ernest MacMillan in 1934, Percy Faith in 1939, Leslie Bell in 1941, Ernest Seitz in 1942, and Wishart Campbell in 1943. Under John Bird's direction, the firm produced Canada Is... Music with student and teacher's books and recordings covering elementary school grades 1 to 8, and books for young children by Donna Wood Move, Sing, Listen, Play and Lois Birkenshaw-Fleming Come On Everybody, Let's Sing! and Ada Vermeulen Chansons pour s'amuser and Chansons pour s'amuser... encore! Publications for conservatory use include Materials of Western Music by William G. Andrews and Molly Sclater, and More Than Teaching by Earle Moss and numerous volumes for piano students by Boris Berlin.

About 1950 the company embarked on the publishing of larger-scale concert music, by Archer, Bissell, Champagne, Robert Fleming, Freedman, Morawetz, Ridout, Somers, Walter, Willan, and others. Additions in the following decades include choral works by Louis Applebaum, Srul Irving Glick, Derek Holman, David Ouchterlony, Nancy Telfer and Ruth Watson Henderson and piano music by Alexina Louie. The extensive choral catalogue includes the Festival Singers of Canada Choral Series (later changed to Elmer Iseler Singers Choral Series), the Toronto Children's Chorus Choral Series, edited by Jean Ashworth Bartle, the Thompson Youth Choir Series, edited by Robert Cooper. Among other publications are The Catholic Book of Worship (1972) and Ridout's reconstruction (1963, published 1974) of Quesnel's Colas et Colinette. Thompson's printing has been done by the W.R. Draper Co of Weston, Ont; plate numbers have not been used.

During the early 1950s the firm issued sound recordings on the Gavotte label (see Edward B. Moogk), but printed music remained its chief interest. It has served as the Canadian distributor for such companies as Big Three Music Corp, Bourne Inc, and the rental catalogue of G. Schirmer, all of New York, and Montgomery Music of Buffalo.

After Thompson's death in 1965 John C. Bird became president of the firm, then a CAPAC affiliate, and of its subsidiaries, Chanteclair Music, a PRO Canada affiliate, and G.V. Thompson, Inc, of Niagara Falls, NY. After his retirement in 1988 Bird continued to serve the firm as a consultant.

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