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Beckenhorst Celebrates 50 years of Publishing

21st Sep 2022

Beckenhorst Celebrates 50 years of Publishing

Part 1: 50 years of History!

Beckenhorst Press is celebrating its 50th anniversary publishing the highest quality choral music for church choirs as well as school, community, and professional choirs. Founded in 1972, Beckenhorst now offers over 2000 titles in its catalog and remains committed to John Ness Beck’s goals of providing exceptional choral music that blends the strongest creative ideas and finest craftsmanship with efficiency of writing and maximum impact. 

In 1972, John Ness Beck, who was teaching music at Ohio State University and operating a retail sheet music store, collaborated with John Tatgenhorst to establish a new publisher of choral, band, and orchestral music. Their last names were combined to form the new amalgamated name "Beckenhorst". The company's first choral piece, The Young Lions by John Ness Beck, was published in 1972. 

Soon after, John Tatgenhorst decided to pursue other musical endeavors, and the band and orchestral copyrights were reassigned to another publisher, leaving John Beck free to concentrate on choral music. By 1975, John had sold his retail sheet music store and was focusing exclusively on Beckenhorst.

The company continued to grow in the early 1980s as it incorporated and became self-distributing. Jeffrey Hamm and Bryan Babcock were hired in 1981 to oversee shipping. The company's expanding success over the next few years was interrupted by tragedy in early 1987 as John Beck was diagnosed with terminal lung and brain cancer. 

John immediately made plans for his succession, inviting recently-published composer Craig Courtney to take over his editorial duties and appointing Jeffrey Hamm to assume the role of president and general manager. John passed away a few months later, and since 1987, Jeff Hamm (president), Craig Courtney (editor), and Bryan Babcock (shipping) have preserved his vision. 50 years after its founding Beckenhorst continues to be an industry-leading publisher, with a small staff but outstanding music and service to its composers and its customers. 

Beckenhorst is highly selective, accepting only the "best of the best" submissions, which are then further honed to achieve "maximum impact without unnecessary difficulty." The result is two releases per year of 12-15 new choral works which we believe are all worth careful consideration (rather than choral directors having to pick through dozens of pieces to find a few "standouts"). Beckenhorst also continues to publish annual releases of handbell titles as well as occasional piano, organ, vocal, and instrumental collections. After 50 years of publishing, Beckenhorst Press offers over 2000 works in its overall catalog and is committed to the continuation and expansion of its high-quality tradition. 

Next Week: Part 2 – Looking Ahead to Beckenhorst's Future

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