Newman, Harold, 1903-1989

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Music publisher, composer, and arranger, Harold Newman (1903-1989) became one of the leading advocates for promoting the instruction and performance of recorder music in the United States.

Trained as an accountant, Newman first became aware of the instrument through Shakespeare's Hamlet, learned to play, and quickly became enthusiastic about the instrument. Following a period of intensive study, he became the first president of the American Recorder Society. In 1940 Newman commissioned the American composer Gail Kubik to write the first American composition for recorder, Suite for Three Recorders. In order to make this piece available, Newman formed a publishing firm, Hargail Recorder Music Publishers. The publishing house, which was renamed Hargail Music Press in the mid-1940s, reprinted old recorder music and published original recorder pieces by contemporary composers, commissioned by Newman. Newman soon established a record label called Hargail Records, which issued recordings of the recorder music of Bach, Handel, and Purcell, as well as new works, including compositions by Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, and Paul Hindemith. During the 1950s the company expanded into folk music and Newman also promoted the recorder in elementary schools as a simple and inexpensive way to teach children about music. Hargail would become an American distributor for two foreign recorder manufacturers, Küng (Switzerland) and Toyama (Japan) and developed Harvard, its own plastic recorder line. In 1975 Newman began work on a combined memoir and history of the recorder. Titled "The House that Hamlet Built," it was not published. Newman continued to compose music for the recorder through the 1980s, and he remained president of Hargail until his death.

From the description of Harold Newman papers, 1921-1993 (bulk 1941-1988) (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144682706

Harold Newman was born in the Lower East Side of New York City, circa 1903. His first definitive experience with music occurred in 1908 during kindergarten class, when his teacher played the piano and he asked her after class to play more for him. Newman's family directed his education towards business, resulting in his first career as an accountant. However, he continued to study music privately, as well as English literature. It was the latter pursuit that changed his life; while reading Shakespeare's Hamlet, he encountered a line about a "recorder," an instrument he'd never heard of before. He learned to play one, and quickly became so enthusiastic about the instrument that he became the first president of the American Recorder Society, a post he held from 1939-1951.

In 1940 Newman befriended the American composer Gail Kubik, and commissioned the first American composition for recorder - Suite for Three Recorders . In order to make this piece available, Newman formed a publishing firm named after himself and Kubik - Hargail Recorder Music Publishers. He also established a record label called Hargail Records to distribute recordings of the recorder, as well as other contemporary American music. During the 1950s his interests expanded to include folk music, as he saw the opportunity to publish music for recorder and guitar, and to help make the recorder part of the American cultural pattern. He also promoted the recorder in elementary schools, as a simple and inexpensive way to teach children about music.

The 1950s and 1960s were a boom time for recorder sales worldwide, and Hargail played a role as an American distributor for two foreign companies, Küng (Switzerland) and Toyama (Japan). Hargail's relationship with Toyama began with exclusive distribution rights for the Northeastern states, and in the mid-1960s, the two companies developed the plastic Aulos recorder line. Hargail also manufactured its own plastic recorder, named Harvard, and distributed it internationally.

In addition to commissioning works for the recorder, Newman contributed to more than 25 publications, either as the author, arranger, or editor of collected works. In 1975 he began work on a memoir and history of the recorder. Titled The House that Hamlet Built, it was not published. Newman continued to compose music for the recorder through the 1980s, and he remained president of Hargail until his death. He died on August 6, 1989, and left a bequest to the City University of New York, where a music library is named after him.

From the guide to the Harold Newman papers, 1921-1993, 1941-1988, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Newman, Harold, 1903-. Harold Newman papers, 1921-1993 (bulk 1941-1988) New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Harold Newman papers, 1921-1993, 1941-1988 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn Homestead Hebrew Congregation (Pa.). Homestead Hebrew Congregation oral histories and transcripts 1955. Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Heinz History Center Detre Library and Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Music Collection corporateBody
associatedWith Bergmann, Walter, 1902-1988. person
associatedWith Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990. person
associatedWith Foss, Lukas, 1922-2009. person
associatedWith Hargail Music Press corporateBody
associatedWith Hargail Music Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Hargail Records corporateBody
associatedWith Hargail Records. corporateBody
associatedWith Homestead Hebrew Congregation (Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Kolinski, Mieczyslaw. person
associatedWith Kubik, Gail, 1914-1984. person
associatedWith Rorem, Ned, 1923- person
associatedWith Seeger, Pete, 1919- person
associatedWith Wheeler, Billy Edd person
associatedWith Wheeler, Billy Edd. person
associatedWith Wolpe, Stefan person
associatedWith Wolpe, Stefan. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Recorder (Musical instrument)--Instruction and study--Juvenile
Recorder (Musical instrument)
Music publishers
Music publishers--United States
Occupation
Composers
Arrangers (Musicians)
Music publishers
Function

Person

Birth 1903-11-27

Death 1989-08-06

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