John Walsh was a publisher, instrument maker, and music retailer, who established himself in London by 1690. Walsh was born around 1665 and was to become the pre-eminent English music publisher of his day. He was the first publisher to be named as music seller to the crown.2
Walsh began publishing together with John Hare in 1695; John Playford, who had dominated the field previously, was dead, and his son was inadequate as a businessman to maintain the house. Walsh thus encountered a distinct lack of competition, and "engraved music soon appeared from his premises on a scale previously unknown in England."1. Many of Walsh's editions were pirated from other publishers, and this accounts for much of the variety in his catalogue. It appears that he had managed to establish business relations with Estienne Roger by 1716, however, and his imprint and other marks can be found on several Roger prints. Walsh was astute at cost-saving, and found many ways to streamline and make more cost-effective his publications. However, he often (at least early on) provided lavish title pages for publications. Walsh was quick on the uptake, always keeping abreast of new developements and advertising to great effect. By 1710, he was widely recognized as the most important publisher in England, even though competition was springing up and piracy was rampant. Handel had Walsh print Rinaldo in 1711, and from that Walsh claimed to have made £1500.
When John Hare died in 1725, his son Joseph took his place until his death in 1733.3
"Besides Hare another music seller joined with Walsh. This was P. Randall, who had a shop in Paul's Grave Court, without Temple Bar, at the sign of the Violin and Lute. The date for this is 1707-8, but before 1711 P. Randall seems to have abandoned his own shop and entered into some kind of partnership with Walsh, for the imprints give the Catherine Street address for both names. If we might assume that P. Randall had married into the Walsh family — say with Walsh's daughter — it might, in some degree, account for his presence on the Catherine Street imprint, and also for the circumstance that a William Randall (possibly his son) was, on the decease of John Walsh, junior, in possession of the business. This is of course only guess work, and no doubt an examination of the registers of some of the neighbouring churches might reveal more particulars."3
Walsh died on March 13, 1736 (leaving from £20,000-30,000). His son, also John Walsh, took over the firm. Walsh (ii) was noted as an instrument maker, becoming appointed maker to the king in 1731. At the same time, Walsh (ii) began numbering all of the firm's publications. Kidson again:
"During a certain period, the commencement of which I have not been able to definitely fix, Walsh, senior, affixed numbers to his publications ; these appear to be consecutive and indicate a date of publication. I have notes of works bearing numbers between 58 and 683, and ranging in date from probably about 1725 to 1736-7, for after the senior Walsh's death the son does not appear to have long continued the numeration; it is also pretty certain that the elder publisher did not by any means number all his publications during his period."3
Dating Walsh publications is generally no simple matter, as very few had a date printed. Kidson:
"Another particular which may be worth while noting, as tending to fix a date, is the different spellings of the name of the street. In the very earliest imprints it is spelled as in the modern way, "Catherine," varied with "Katherine," but while these two modes of spelling were used more or less indifferently at the same period, I cannot recall any imprint where the K is used later than 1718-20, though it was very generally used by Walsh about 1705 to 171 5. At a certain later date, during the son's time, and from about 1745 to 1760, "Catharine" is spelled with a centre "a" instead of an "e." "
It was Walsh (ii) who published Handel's later works; the Organ Concerti (Op. 4) were dedicated to him. As a retailer, he sold the work of other publishers, and absorbed several smaller publishers upon their liquidation. When he died (15 January 1766), he left £40,000. William Randall took over the business until 1783, whereupon it was absorbed by Wright and Wilkinson.
Imprints & Addresses
- John (Iohn) Walsh, and John Hare (1695-ca.1725), and Joseph Hare (ca.1720-ca.1733), and P. Randall (ca.1707-ca.1710)
- "printed for and sold by John Walsh Musical Instrument maker in ordinary to his Majesty, at the Harp and Ho-boy, in Catherine Street nere Somerset House in the Strand, and likewise to be had at Mr. Hare's Shop in Freemans Yard in Cornhill near the Royal Exchange" (1696)
- "sold by John Hare, musical instrument seller, at the Golden Violin, in St. Paul's Church Yard, and at his shop in Freeman's Yard, in Cornhill, and by John Welch, [sic] musical instrument maker in ordinary to his Majesty, at the Golden Harp and Hautboy, in Catherine Street, against Somerset House Water Gate, in the Strand" (1697)
- "printed for and sold by John Walsh, musical instrument maker in ordinary to his Majesty at the Golden Harp and Hautboy in Katherine Street, near Somerset House, in ye Strand, and John Hare, musical instrument maker, at ye Golden Viol, in St. Paul's Church Yard, and at his shop in Freeman's Court, Cornhill, near ye Royall Exchange" (1700)
- "printed and sold by I. Walsh, musical instrument maker in ordinary to his majesty, at the Golden Harp and Hoboy in Catherine Street, near Somerset House, in ye Strand, and I. Hare at the Golden Viol, in St. Paul's Church Yard, and at Freeman's Yard" (ca.1705)
- "printed for I. Walsh, servt to her Ma'tie, at ye Harp and Hoboy, in Katherine Street, near Somerset House and I. Hare, at ye Golden Viol, in St. Paul's Church Yard, or at his shop in Freeman's Yard" (ca.1705)
- "printed for J. Walsh, servant to her Majesty, at the Golden Harp and Hoboy, in Katherine Street, near Somerset House, in the Strand." (c.1705)
- "printed for J. Walsh, at ye Harp, in Catherine Street, in ye Strand, and J. Hare, at ye Viol and Flute, in Cornhill, and P. Randall, at ye Violin and Lute, without Temple Barr" (1707)
- "printed for J. Walsh, at the Harp and Hoboy, in Katherine Street, near Somerset-House in the Strand: and J. Hare, Instrument-Maker, at the Golden Viol and Flute in Cornhill near the Royal Exchange: and P. Randal, at the Violin and Lute by Pauls-grave Court, without Temple Barr" (1708)
- "printed for J. Walsh, and P. Randall, at the Harp and Hoboy, in Katherine Street, by Somerset House, in the Strand, and at the Violin and Flute, by Paul's Grave Head Court, without Temple Bar, and J. Hare, at the Golden Viol and Flute, in Cornhill" (ca.1709-10)
- "Printed for J. Walsh Servant in Ordinary to her Majesty, & P. Randall at ye Harp & Hoboy in Katherine Street near Somerset House in ye Strand. & J. Hare at ye Viol & Flute in Cornhill near ye Royal Exchange" (before 1714)
- "Printed for I: Walsh Servt. to his Majesty at the Harp and Hoboy in Catherine Street in the Strand. & Ino. & Ioseph Hare at the Viol & Flute in Cornhill near the Royal Exchange" (1723)
- printed for I. Walsh in Catherine Street in the Strand
- John (Iohn) Walsh [junior] (ca.1733-1766)
- printed for I. Walsh in Catherine Street in the Strand
- printed by I. Walsh in Catharine Street in the Strand
- "Printed & Sold by John Walsh Musick Printer & Instrument Maker to his Majesty at the Harp & Hoboy in Catherine Street in the Strand" (ca.1735, 1747)
- sold by I. Walsh, musick printer and instrument maker to his majesty ... (1747)
- William Randall (& Abell) (1766-1783)
- "Printed for Wm. Randall Successor to the late Mr. Walsh in Catharine Street in the Strand"
- Wright and Wilkinson (1783-ca.1810)
- Printed for Wright & Wilkinson Successors to the late Mr. Walsh in Catharine Street in the Strand"
- Printed by Wright & Co. Successors to Mr. Walsh. Catharine Street, Strand"
- 1. Sadie, Stanley. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
- New York and London: Macmillan Publications, 1980.
- 2. Wier, Albert E. The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians in One Volume
- New York: The Macmillan Co., 1938.
- 3. Kidson, Frank, British Music Publishers, Printers and Engravers
- London: W. E. Hill & Sons, 1900.