J. Curwen & Sons

Typical beige cover with unicorn logo (1930s)
Typical decorative cover (1930s)



This publishing house was founded in 1863 when John Curwen (1816—1880) bought Grammar of Vocal Music, Tonic Sol-Fa Association, Standard Course of Lessons, and the Tonic Sol-fa Reporter and Magazine of Vocal Music for the People. The company was later named the Curwen Press, working both as a music and book publisher, but J. Curwen & Sons became independent in 1933, and continued to operate until the 1970's. It was an imprint of Music Sales Ltd until 2018, when Music Sales sold its printed music division to Hal Leonard.

Educational works of the late 19th century included John Curwen's singing tutors and his wife's work Mrs. Curwen's pianoforte method.

Curwen published almost exclusively vocal music, choral and solo, sacred and secular, for home, school, professional and church use. In the first years of the 20th century works by Coleridge-Taylor 1875-1912 and Hurlstone 1876-1906 (e.g. his Piano Quartet, Op.43) appeared.
The period 1900 to 1940 was very productive. It began with a major choral success: Roberton’s (1874-1952) All in the April evening in 1911 which was popular in sheet music and on records for 50 years. Then vocal works by these British composers were added to the catalogue: Vaughan Williams 1872-1958, Quilter 1877-1953, Nicholson, 1875-1947 Boughton, 1878-1960, Stanford 1852-1924. Bantock 1868-1946. Davies 1869-1941. Finally, there were the younger composers born between 1880 and 1910: Howells 1892-1983, Bliss 1891-1975, Gibbs 1889—1960, Benjamin 1893-1960, Goossens 1893-1962, Jacob 1895-1984, Ferguson 1908-1999, Rowley 1892-1958 and Thiman 1900-1975.

In addition to the vocal series there were a few historical publications, such as Purcell’s Fantasias for strings and Byrd’s Mass.




  • In 1888: London, 8&9 Warwick Lane

Plate Numbers

Plate Composer Work Year
985 Wallace Maritana
2969 Warlock Corpus Christi (sc&pts) 1927
3663 Vaughan Williams Sancta Civitas 1925
94050 Gibbs Lyric Sonata, Op.63 1929

Sources Consulted

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