Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Toccata Press

Boydell & Brewer is pleased to welcome Martin Anderson’s Toccata Press to the select band of small music book publishers whose lists we are proud to represent worldwide, alongside Plumbago and Chosen Press. Toccata has been publishing books on Anderson’s favourite neglected composers for well over a quarter of a century: here he explains what made him start the press, and what keeps him publishing.

I started Toccata Press way back in 1981, basically because I got fed up waiting for other publishers to bring out the books I wanted to read: there was nothing published in English on Enescu, nothing on Franz Schmidt or Pfitzner or a host of other important composers. At the time I was working at the Institute of Economic Affairs, watching the Editorial Director there, Arthur Seldon, turn the tide of opinion by commissioning studies offering then-unfashionable market solutions to economic problems. It dawned on me that, if the IEA could do it in economics, I could try the same thing in music, and I began to plan a series of short publications on a range of neglected composers. Matters were taken out of my hands when the composer Robert Simpson, who the previous year had resigned from the BBC in protest against its cultural agenda, got in touch to say that he had written an attack on the way the Corporation planned and ran the Proms; he had fallen out with its intended publisher, and could I find him someone else? I went to see a publisher friend, who answered my question with one of his own: Why don’t you do it? I didn’t have an answer, and so The Proms and Natural Justice was published within six weeks of my receipt of the manuscript.

I haven’t maintained that kind of rapidity, of course: my output settled down at about a book a year, not least because the short publications I had envisaged all turned out much longer. But the basic intention hasn’t changed: to fill some of the gaps in the musical literature, some of them surprising. For example, there was no full-length study of the Schubert symphonies in any language (not even German) before Toccata Press brought out Brian Newbould’s Schubert and the Symphony.

The new association with Boydell & Brewer will allow me, I hope, to increase the frequency of Toccata Press publications. There’s plenty in the pipeline. I have Volume Two of Havergal Brian on Music featuring his writings on his European and American contemporaries nearly ready for the printers, and Comrades in Art which has a subtitle of Victorian thoroughness: The Correspondence of Ronald Stevenson and Percy Grainger, 1957-61, with Interviews, Essays and other Writings on Grainger by Ronald Stevenson will shortly be going off to the typesetter. Tully Potter's huge biography of Adolf Busch is likewise virtually ready for production, and studies of Humperdinck, Irgens-Jensen (Norway’s finest composer, Grieg notwithstanding!), the Martinů Symphonies and more are in preparation. Watch this space!

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