Beckenhorst Press was founded by two talented composers, John Ness Beck and John Tatgenhorst. At the time, John Beck owned a retail sheet music establishment and was writing principally choral music while John Tatgenhorst was engaged in various musical pursuits. The initial intent was to publish choral, band and orchestra music, with John Beck focusing on choral music and John Tatgenhorst directing his efforts toward instrumental works. The first choral piece, THE YOUNG LIONS, by John Beck, was published in 1972. The first instrumental pieces appeared in 1973. The editing was done in Columbus and the distribution of the music was handled by Theodore Presser Company.
Shortly thereafter, John Tatgenhorst decided to pursue other musical endeavors and John Beck assumed full responsibility for the company. The band and orchestra copyrights were reassigned to another publisher, leaving Mr. Beck free to concentrate primarily on choral music. In 1975, the decision was made by John Beck to sell his retail sheet music store and act exclusively as composer and publisher. Vocal, organ and handbell titles were gradually added to the catalog and the distribution of music was taken over by J. Arthur Music, a retail sheet music store in Columbus at that time. In 1978, John Muschick joined the company as executive secretary, treasurer and layout editor.
In 1981, John Beck incorporated the company and decided to assume distributorship. Warehouse space was rented and Jeffrey Hamm and Bryan Babcock were hired to take over shipping and handling. In 1985, a house was purchased to bring editorial and distribution duties under one roof. The editorial office was on the second floor, distribution on the first and overstock kept in the basement and garage. Music was printed by Lorenz Publishing in Dayton, Ohio, brought by truck to Columbus, unloaded and wheeled to the house via handcart and then "tossed" down the basement steps for storage.
In February of 1987, John Beck was diagnosed with terminal lung and brain cancer. Mr. Beck immediately began making plans for the continuation of Beckenhorst Press and invited Craig Courtney, a recently published composer, to assume the editorial duties of BPI. At the time, Mr. Courtney was living in Salzburg, Austria with his family and was interested in returning to the USA. After a brief trip to the United States to discuss the position with Mr. Beck, Mr. Courtney accepted the job. Craig and his family arrived in the United States on June 27, 1987, two days after the June 25, 1987 death of John Ness Beck.
After Mr. Beck's death, Jeffrey Hamm assumed the duties of president and general manager. John Muschick retired in October of 1987, continuing his function as layout editor from his new home in Pensacola, Florida, and Don Galbraith was hired as secretary and treasurer. In 1990, Don left his position with Beckenhorst Press and Deborah Govenor was hired as his replacement. In 1994, Beckenhorst moved to their present headquarters in northwest Columbus which boast ample office space, a large warehouse and a loading dock. In 2012, Dan Forrest was hired as a music editor, assisting Craig Courtney, with an eye toward continuing John Ness Beck's goals into the future. In 2018, Beckenhorst partnered with The Music of Dan Forrest as sole distributor for Dan's self-published concert works, making Beckenhorst the home for all of Dan's forthcoming music (publishing his church music and distributing his self-published concert music). A new Concert Series was launched in 2020, focusing on the highest-quality repertoire for school, university, and community choirs, and in 2022 Beckenhorst became the exclusive seller of Indianapolis Children's Choir's new choral music publications.
Jeffrey Hamm and Bryan Babcock retired in 2022 and 2021, respectively, after a combined 80+ years of service to the company. Philip Eoute took over responsibilities as General Manager, and Dylan Woodring took oversight of the warehouse and order fulfillment.
Beckenhorst Press continues to uphold the goals set by Mr. Beck: to provide traditional music of excellent quality that blends effectiveness in worship with the strongest creative ideas and finest craftsmanship. Every Beckenhorst piece has been honed and refined to allow efficient rehearsal and to achieve "maximum impact without unnecessary difficulty." The catalog is primarily comprised of sacred music for choir, handbells, voice, piano and organ, contributed by more than 150 composers and lyricists over the years. With an emphasis on quality rather than quantity, twenty-five to thirty choral titles are released yearly, as well as ten handbell titles and occasional piano, organ, vocal, and instrumental collections. At present, Beckenhorst Press offers over 2000 titles in its catalog and is committed to the continuation of the best in sacred music.
John Ness Beck, Founder
John Ness Beck was born in Warren, Ohio, on November 11th, 1930. After attending public schools in Warren, he enrolled at The Ohio State University in 1948. Although he had begun piano lessons at an early age, he did not feel that career prospects in music were bright enough to pursue. In 1952 he graduated from the The Ohio State Universtiy with B.A. and B.Sc. degrees with a major in English. After working for a year in Student Union activities at the State College of Washington, he spent two years in the army. During this time he was assigned to Special Services, and became increasingly involved in arranging for various music groups. Ultimately, he decided that his interest in music could not be denied, and after discharge from military service, he returned to Ohio State and completed M.Mus. and M.A. degrees in music with composition as his major.
Following that, he gained experience in many allied careers in music. First, he was a faculty member of The Ohio State University School of Music. After seven years of teaching harmony and theory, he left the university to become owner and manager of The University Music House, a retail sheet music store in Columbus. In this capacity he was able to observe the business side of the music industry and gain some insight into the complexities of music publishing and merchandising. Ultimately, as more and more of his compositions found their way into print and popularity, it seemed the next logical step to join forces with his long-time friend, John Tatgenhorst (also a gifted composer and arranger), in the creation of a publishing partnership, Beckenhorst Press. While managing his business and developing the publishing company, along with continual composing and arranging, he also served as choir director of the University Baptist Church in Columbus. His reputation as a composer and his experience as a choral director soon led to an increasing demand for appearances as guest conductor and lecturer at various clinics and festivals throughout the country.
With a universal interest in all forms of art, he had considerable experience in theater, which also included some work in dance. He began the study of art, specializing in graphic design and production. He learned the art of engraving music and autographed many of the Beckenhorst publications. He also designed and produced most of the covers. With his increasing involvement in publishing, it became necessary for him to sell his retail store in 1975, and then devoted full time to reviewing and editing manuscripts, engraving them, and designing and producing their covers. He found great satisfaction in returning to a form of teaching, by discovering and encouraging new talents, sharing his experience with them and helping them in any way he could to become newly established composers.
John Ness Beck died on June 25, 1987, leaving a wonderful legacy of music to be enjoyed by all.
See works by John Ness Beck (published by Beckenhorst Press) or a complete list of John Ness Beck's published works (including other publishers).