End of history: Patelson’s has been demolished

End of history: Patelson’s has been demolished


norman lebrecht

October 14, 2013

The 56th Street store where everyone from Tchaikovsky on went to buy their scores is now a screened-off hole in the ground.

No sentiment in New York, never was.


photo (c) David Bernard

David adds:

The demise of Patelsons wasn’t really triggered by disinterest, or the so-called demise in Classical Music. It was more driven by bad business practices and a lack of willingness to change by the owners.
It is sad, because it was a mecca for musicians. The first time I went there, when I was in 5th grade, it seemed like a magical place—you could get anything you wanted and peruse it with your own two hands (as opposed to Franks music).
Personally, I think the owners experienced the typical Small Business syndrome— avoiding adapting to new markets and retaining old models.
That is what did them in.


  • John Ed Niles says:

    Now this is really sad!! But, alas, too true.

  • Sad but very true. I am glad someone acknowledged this sight though. Thank you.

  • Rosana Martins says:

    How sad! Patelson’s was part of all the years I lived in New York and I continued to pay it a visit every time I returned to the city. After the disappearance of the New York City Opera and Steinway’s on 57th Street, musical life in the city is changed indeed.

  • another sign of decline.Diane could find you music that ‘was out of print/ din’t exist’ that sort of nonsense one heard in London et al where the personnel had no clue of repertoire , editions.She sent me the forgotten Casadesus cadenze to KV467, located Landowska’s arrangement of Country dances of Mozart. When perusing the always’ treasure antiquariat bins, one found all sorts of surprises.Once glancing at a new sequel to Ned Rorem’s diaries. I looked up and there was Ned. Like Dobligers in Wien and Saul Groen in Amsterdam another oasis for musicians vanished ,Patelson’s and Frank Marx the other fabulous address for musicians in the New York area …..” für Liebhaber und Kenner ” including the erudite personnel !

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      These days you can find a lot of stuff that is “out of print/didn’t exist” on the internet yourself, sometimes in a matter of seconds. So that may not be “a sign of decline”, just of how things are changing.

  • sixtus says:

    I have a large collection of full and study scores. A considerable number of them were purchased at Patelson’s. My anguish at the closing of the store a few years ago has by now been assuaged by the ease of buying such material online, by the much-improved stock and facilities at the Juilliard Bookstore, and by the truly massive number of scores downloadable from the IMSLP. Times change.


    • Rosana Martins says:

      Nothing can replace the pleasure of going through the printed scores and finding what you want or discovering new music. I love the internet and downloading is of course an option, however it is not like reading a real book or placing a printed score in the music stand.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        You can actually find and order real books and printed scores on the internet, too, sometimes really rare stuff, and from literally all over the world! I just got some books from Italy and some CDs from Japan. I think that’s really neat.

    • Dan P. says:

      Times do change, but there is a difference Shopping in a brick and mortar store is a social experience Besides being able to look at editions under copyright that can’t be obtained legally on-line, it provides social interaction, discussion with clerks, friends with whom one is shopping, and other chance encounters – especially at a places like Patelson’s where you never knew what musicians who you would bump into. If nothing else, isn’t music a social endeavor at it’s core? Also, there is NOTHING more frustrating trying to find out information about an edition on an on-line store where even if you can get a response by e-mail, it is more often than not, written by some bozo at a contact center who really has no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Peter D. Pecere says:

    Please do NOT forget http://frankmusiccompany.com/catalog/

    • isepo says:

      I’m sorry but Frank Music lost my business a long time ago. When Heidi keeps her prices anywhere from 200-300% above retail (and I don’t mean just online, Juilliard too) I just can’t afford to help her enterprise, no matter how charming and knowledgable she is. Considering that most working musicians aren’t independently wealthy, her business practices are simply outrageous.

  • I have plenty of scores on my shelf that were purchased from Patelson’s. I have fond memories of going there often when I lived in Manhattan through the 80s. A small but vital piece of musical history has now gone. Sad but inevitable.

  • Tom Moore says:

    Briggs & Briggs in Harvard Sq. is long gone, as is the Boston Music Co, though the buildings remain.

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    “The 56th Street store where everyone from Tchaikovsky on went to buy their scores”

    I always thought Tchaikovsky wrote his scores himself! Another myth debunked…

  • Dan P. says:

    When did they take it down? It is now completely a matter of memory. I was in the neighborhood on Oct 3rd for a concert at Carnegie Hall and didn’t think look behind to see if my old haunt was still there – it’s been too sad to walk by the place often since it closed.

    As high school kid visiting from provinces, I bought my first score there in October 1970 (Ives Concord Sonata) and as a long time New Yorker, the last I purchased there (Rachmaninoff 4th Piano Concerto) was when the place was in its very last days. In between there were several hundreds of purchases at least. It was the go-to place for every serious local and visiting musician and the place where, if you were still a kid, you met up with your friends on Saturday when conservatory Pre-College classes were over. It was a place where you didn’t have to explain what you were looking for and you could browse until your legs gave out. And, if you went there regularly, you knew all the staff, including the lady (I’ve forgotten her name) who oversaw the record department and took special orders and remembered everyone.

    Done in by online shopping, xeroxing, and the ballooning of music prices I saw them going from crowded to desolate as their stock shrank and shrank to nearly nothing. In its heyday, Patelson’s was the number one music shop, in a field of over a dozen, including Schirmer’s on W. 43rd Street and Carl Fischer’s in the East Village. Schirmer’s was the first to go – in the 70s. Fischer’s bit the dust in the late 90’s. The others we all went to disappeared one by one as well.

    Still, all these places will remain in our memories as part of a culture of professional and amateur musicians who crossed paths at the same watering holes from time to time to talk shop, gossip, exchange enthusiasms, pass on information about who was performing where, and bought lots of music to feed our musical appetites and curiosity.

  • Steven Ledbetter says:

    When I was a graduate student in NY, and during the early years of my teaching there, I dropped by Patelson’s every time I was nearby (at least once a week) and scanned the shelves of miniature scores for any that were marked down enough to be affordable. I continued to do that during my years singing in the Tanglewood Festival Chorus whenever we came to sing with the Boston Symphony at Carnegie Hall (then it was even better, because if i had my purchases shipped to Massachusetts, I didn’t have to pay the NY sales tax, and the shipping cost was lower at book rate). In addition to miniature scores, I always checked the new compositions (which were naturally more expensive, but I found things I knew I would need to have, and I browsed the books as well.

    While I didn’t find it myself, one lucky shopper discovered the long-lost autograph manuscript to Chadwick’s 3rd String Quartet (not recognized as an autograph, so priced at just $100, making it available to me while producing recordings of the complete Chadwick quartets in the late 1980s–and that let us correct many copying errors in the original parts, which otherwise were the only available source for the piece. (The buyer later donated or sold the score to the Boston Public Library)

    Even if I was nearly stone broke, I couldn’t resist stopping to browse. What a sad change and depressing sign of the times.

    • Neil schnall says:

      Steve, Greetings from a former NYU student of yours (I think I was in your class when news arrived of Stravinsky’s passing)as well as former sales staff at Patelson’s. Neil Schnall

  • Carole Bailis says:

    I wish I had a dollar for every time I picked up the phone and called them to mail me an urtext. One more sad demise.

  • My part-time job selling music at Patelson’s, along with singing in the Philharmonic Chorus, were my first jobs in New York City in the 1970s. I became one of these “erudite personnel” (thank you Mr. Sager) and I still have a treasure trove of scores that I found there. If Patelson and his progeny were still alive I’d feel even worse; at least now he can’t see this tragic photo.

  • Erin Wall says:

    Glendower Jones at http://www.classicalvocalreprints.com can find you almost anything you need, and he has a lot of downloadable pieces as well.

  • Chris MacRae says:

    While Patelson’s is no more, Glendower Jones of http://www.Classicalvocalrep.com, is still the best resource for vocal music out there. I believe he used to work at Patelson’s…

  • Louise Burton says:

    I still miss Carl Fischer in Chicago.

  • Bill Dyszel says:

    Carl Fischer in Chicago, yes! And Rose records. I also miss Colony Music in New York. But both stores failed to see the Internet coming and didn’t take advantage. Either of them could’ve become Musicnotes.com if they tried. But their reaction was to keep believing that they could maintain a business selling nothing but sheet music on paper. As for Tchaikovsky, I was surprised, too. If I could have bought myself a Swan Lake, written by me, I might have snapped one up. 🙂

  • I used to hang out there in between my free-lance gigs, scouring the racks for the always-rare viola music or piano music for my pianist wife at reduced prices. One especially important feature was their wall-hung rack that held a myriad of concert brochures by various artists. I recall leaving a bunch of our brochures (printed by our concert manager Norman Seaman) to announce the upcoming debut of the viola/piano Zaslav Duo at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1962, hoping to attract anyone curious about that repertoire.

    • Nardo says:

      Hey, Bernie: I thought you used to hang out in the Carnegie Tavern across the street from Patelson’s in between gigs. Who are you trying to kid?

      I went to the Mannes College of Music with the woman who would later marry Joseph Patelson’s son (Joseph Patelsonson?). I remember seeing her in the shop when I would go in there to buy music, books, to browse or just to meet with my musician friends. Alexandra: are you one of those who was sponsored by John Littlefield to come to the U.S. and work at Patelson’s? If so, we’ve met.

      The building was just torn down within the last couple of weeks. I couldn’t believe it when I went to play a concert in Carnegie Hall last week and found an empty space across the street where I used to frequent as a student and later as a professional. It’s sad, indeed.

  • Harry Marenstein says:

    I know the former owner a little. She inherited the business from her late husband. It is true that it was not her first love to run the store. She really just fell into it. It was a burden to her and the cost overhead of running a boutique business in one of the most expensive areas of the one of the most expensive cities was causing her serious stress, and closing actually gave her some relief.

    Patelson’s is one of many wonderful music shops (add to that many other types of specialty businesses) to have gone out of business in NY over the past 15 years, including Fisher on Astor Place and Colony – and all for the same reason – because of the expense of staying in such a business in NY and the surge in real estate values. Patelson’s is only being singled out because of its proximity to Carnegie. It has been closed for years. Nobody else tried to run the shop in their place and the owner sat on the derelict property all this time. If I understand it, it even has changed hands at least once since the store closed.

    I don’t think it’s fair to indict the former owner for closing or managing the business poorly. It is remarkable that any such shops are able to continue to exist in today’s market. As a conductor, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t look to the internet first for scores or a part.

    • isepo says:

      In the final years since Marsha took over the business, the place really took a nose dive. Stock was thin and you couldn’t find many standard repertoire items. Fluff merchandise began to appear (sweatshirts, treble clef socks, etc) and surreal wine and cheese parties with jazz combos took place in the evenings. One of the employees would tell me under their breath how they were in debt up to their eyeballs to major publishers, and that the Labor Department was investigating them. Also, core clientele (MUSICIANS) were becoming increasingly agitated and alienated because they couldn’t find what they needed, when they needed it. Amongst the staff, there seemed to be little confidence in Marsha’s abilities to steer the company in already difficult financial times. Despite her good intentions, from this customer’s perspective, she was clearly in way over her head…

  • Daniel Kravetz says:

    Poor management wasn’t the only reason. The Patelson family owned a two-story building (originally a carriage house) on a street where real estate prices are among the highest in the world. They closed the store about four years ago and waited to score a big sale. The asking price was $4 million, but could easily have doubled or trebled by now. Who would ignore such an opportunity just to keep a music store operating. Maybe the founder Joseph Patelson, but he died in 1992 and his son died in 2004. His daughter-in-law made the decision.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Sentiment, shmentiment. Sentiment is for schmaltzy schmucks.

    (Gotta have room for another Gap in mid-town).

  • Dan Brown says:

    I loved this store and visited often. It was a long slow decline, but I have many fond memories going back to 1986. Walking out of the store during its last week in business was a very emotional experience. I believe I purchased a copy of Cage’s 4’33”.

    Unfortunately, according to a New York Times article in 2009, Patelson’s is not quite old enough to have counted Tchaikovsky as a customer. According to the Times, “The business has its origins in 1920, when Ernest Cook opened a discount music shop on Cooper Square, according to the store history. In 1929 he hired an 18-year-old student from City College as a clerk: Joseph Patelson. Cook died 10 years later, bequeathing the business to Patelson. Patelson bought the present building, where he moved the store in 1947, living in a small two-bedroom apartment upstairs with his wife, Nell.” Here is a link to the article:


  • I. Messner says:

    No matter. Buying online is the wave of the future!

  • RB says:

    You can’t be surprised, for most of the reasons stated above. The larger picture is that real estate is so expensive in Manhattan that, excepting Strand’s monster warehouse, no interesting independent bookshop remains standing. You’re lucky to find a decently stocked branch of Barnes & Noble.

    • Daniel Kravetz says:

      The Strand bookshop survives because the owners also own the 11-story building it occupies and collect rent from tenants on the floors Strand doesn’t use.

  • PK Miller says:

    This is sad. I stopped there frequently when in NY going back to my college/grad school days in Philadelphia. (I had a voice lesson in NY–2 hr or so Greyhound ride from Philly, always worth spending the weekend!) They carried everything, it seemed, knew everything even “un-confused me” at times. There were things I knew better in German translation and they’d set me straight on what it really was!

    We are fortunate in the Capital District of NY that Van Curler Music is still going strong, the folks very knowledgeable, know what different teachers in the area are using. But there will never be another Patelson. I suppose I can find what I want on Amazon. But it’s not like going in the store & finding what you want.

  • This is terribly sad. Well before it was a music store, in the 1800s this building was a carriage house owned by some wealthy New York family. My husband’s great grandfather, Michael Hoey was the driver for a time, and he and his wife Margaret lived in the apartment upstairs. In the early part of the century (1905)it was a machine shop for the Bosch Magneto company. I’ve been told the building was also used as a storage area for the New York Public Library. More than a loss to the music world, a tangible piece of family history is now gone.

  • gerald elias says:

    Sad that both the business and the building are gone, but nothing lasts forever. Fortunately we now have an amazing resource in IMSLP for finding some of the rarest scores imaginable. Nevertheless, I guess it just ain’t the same. In the midst of writing my first mystery in 2009, “Devil’s Trill,” in which Patelson’s plays an important role, I learned of its business demise. Now it’s a total ghost, but one which will live on in literature and our memories.

  • Brian says:

    The employees were so obnoxious in there.

  • Cheryl Hill says:

    Mr. Patelson was always very intimidating to me! I tried to return a score and had to see him in person: upstairs, in the “office” he greeted me with “We’re not a lending library you know. Music cannot be returned!” YIKES!

  • edith m says:

    Reading the comments feels like standing in the store and listening to all the interesting conversations going on around me. Never failed to learn something, then and now. Maybe an open Patelson’s FB page is in order…

  • Ani says:

    🙁 so depressing, we lost so much lately that was the big part of our life. Fischer is gone too? I’ve had to move 11 years ago and these places that were my home are now gone.

  • Justin Kagan says:

    This is indeed sad and a bit weird to see, And whatever Frank’s lacks in space, Heidi makes up for in spades with knowledge and sense of humour.

  • Marshall says:

    NYC has a certain dynamism-possibly unique among the world’s greatest cities-but it has always had this drive to consume itself, and eradicate it’s own past. This was more ferocious before the destruction of Penn station-because since then much more has been saved. (but there is a reason there is a book called Lost NY)But unlike other cities it has little room for nostalgia-often what was a fond memory of your personal past-that you imgagined would be there forever-when you go back , you find it has vanished. In Europe the buildings are saved even though the function is altered-or even great ruins remain.If NY had been Rome there would be no Colosseum, or Paris, no Grand Opera.

  • Have to say that my gigantic score collection, our gigantic debt from the 90’s, and practically every lunch hour between 1988-99 was spent there.

  • So sad. And anyone posting on here about online shopping seems to miss the point. While impractical financially, brick and mortar stores are gathering places, places to talk shop, places to get caught up with friends–AND to buy music. We still need them. RIP, Patelson’s.

    • sixtus says:

      To those who lament the so-called social aspects of in-store shopping, I suppose you’re going to tell me the Internet is NOT a place where you can talk shop, get caught up with friends, and trade stories. Any 13-year-old with a Facebook page can set you straight. And a musically inclined, web-enabled 13-year-old would be able to conduct more of these interactions in one week, with wider range of people from all parts of the globe, than even the most dedicated Patelson’s patron could manage in a year. As for musical gossip, at this moment you’re reading one of its primary sources. Three decades of shopping at Patelson’s never exposed me to some of the stuff reported on right here at Slipped Disc.


      • Dan P. says:

        You miss the point. Interacting with people face to face is not quite the same thing as typing on a computer keyboard alone at your desk. No one can argue that on-line shopping, blogging, and the like is great feature of contemporary culture. However, a very important aspect of life is missing – getting out in the world and interacting with people in the flesh. More and more, our activities are being conducting at one remove. We shop, order food from restaurants, get our information, conduct relationships, watch movies, and go to concerts, while remaining alone. More and more we even work from home. While this is certainly the reality of life in the 21st Century, I would like to suggest that for a number of reasons this isn’t healthy past a certain point. My opinion, at least is that one needs to get off one’s duff, go out in the world, and share one’s experiences in the real world.

        • Marshall says:

          Bravo-they miss the point.

          Obviously we all are using the Internet-and often we have to for varous financial needs, for practical reasons-and there are many amazing things to be done with these machines. I feel guilty-though it doesn’t stop me from doing it-when I go into let’s say Barnes & Noble, browse find a book, then go home and order from Amazon for half the price.

          But we are losing something, and those who don’t see it have an inhuman qualitiy. I constantly have conflict with people, with their smartphones etc. when I say turn the f______ things off for an hour-you’ll survive.

    • Ani says:

      I agree with Lloyd. For me, walking into the store was my oasis, I can sift thru all the books, and scores and open them up and see them, see if it’s what I need or like. Being a part of the world, being out there. I recently bought an online digital print score where I liked the first page sample, but after downloading and trying it out for awhile I was disappointed with the arrangement. I didn’t know what I was getting because I couldn’t have it in my hands to examine first. I want a store where I can go to, hang out and look around, browse, interact, explore what’s available in the physical form. Without stores I feel like a fish without water.

    • Ani says:

      @Edith. That would be nice!

  • This was written and posted on Facebook by Michael Meltzer, a long-time employee of Patelson’s:


    The following is a concise history of Patelson’s as I wrote it for the shop’s website, some five years or so ago, up to the point of the death of Joseph Patelson.


    The Joseph Patelson Music House had its beginnings in a modest but unique enterprise begun by Ernest Cook in 1920. Using New York’s thriving used bookstores as his model, Cook pioneered the buying and selling of used printed music. He opened the Half-Price Music Shop on Cooper Square, carrying only the bare minimum of new music needed to round out a working inventory. It later moved to 110 West 59th Street, then to 331 West 57th (the block where Bartok lived out his last years).

    In 1929, Cook ran a N.Y.Times ad for a clerk, hiring an 18-year-old CCNY student named Joseph Patelson. An amateur pianist, violinist and composer, young Mr. Patelson showed an encyclopedic grasp of his new profession. As Mr. Cook’s health deteriorated, Patelson assumed responsibility for running the store, and it prospered. Cook passed on in 1939, leaving the business to his loyal young manager.

    Changing the store name to the Joseph Patelson Music House, Patelson moved it in 1940 to 158 West 56th Street, just next door to its present location, and was ably joined in its management by his younger brother, Henry, who remained with him for 29 years.

    Directly across the street was the stage entrance to Carnegie Hall, then the home of the NY Philharmonic and host to countless visiting orchestras, and just down the street was the stage entrance to the New York City Center, then the home of the NYC Opera and the NYC Ballet. The finest classical musicians in the city and in fact, the world, passed by Patelson’s every day and it became a favorite pit-stop and meeting place for performers, music teachers and students.

    In 1942, #160 next door came up for sale. Patelson quickly acted to purchase it, but World War II rationing of building materials prevented his making the necessary renovations until 1946. During the July 4th weekend of 1947, the shop was finally moved to its present site. The 1879 carriage house (the second floor had been a hayloft) sits directly upon bedrock and has no basement. It had served as an automobile garage and

    eventually as a piano shop. In 1905 it was occupied by the American outlet for the German automotive manufacturer Bosch and Company.

    On this magical musical city block, the shop flourished. Adding carefully selected employees, one by one, Patelson assembled perhaps the most musically knowledgeable staff of any retail store in the world to service the esoteric and in-depth requests and inquiries of his demanding professional clientele. The inventory of new music grew by leaps and bounds. Responding to the very high taste level of his customers, Patelson astutely made a specialty of European and scholarly editions, ever mindful of the need for lower-priced reprint editions as well, placed on the shelf side-by-side.

    Complementing the inventory of printed music, a record department (actually a store-within-the-store) was opened by Patelson’s brother-in-law, Joe Darton. The Darton Record Library had an excellent selection of opera recordings in support of the Patelson stock of opera scores. It also gave shelf space to many small but high-quality classical record labels that the chain stores seemed unaware of. The record department was discontinued when Darton retired in 1991.

    As the students of Juilliard, Manhattan, Mannes, Columbia and NYU graduated and took music jobs all over the country, they would come to find that there was no music source out there quite the equal of their Patelson’s in New York. The store’s occasional mail-order service began to grow, and by 1960 had become a full-fledged department with its own staff. The next ten years saw national mail order sales jump from 10% of the store’s total volume to an astonishing 40%, and wonderfully, without any letup in the daily walk-in business.

    On any given day, a visitor is likely to encounter one of the luminaries of the music or entertainment world at the Patelson store. Over the years, Artur Rubinstein, David Oistrakh, Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Ned Rorem, Erich Leinsdorf, Maurice Abravanel, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Beverly Sills, Placido Domingo, Robert Merrill, Eileen Farrell, Maureen Forrester, Patricia Brooks, Jorge Bolet, Andre Watts, Van Cliburn, Earl Wild, Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida, Charles Rosen all called upon Patelson’s services, as did celebrities Frank Sinatra, Judy Collins, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Jaco Pastorius, Werner Klemperer, Claudette Colbert, Lee Remick and Kevin Kline.

    Joseph Patelson was quite proud of his building and had personal hopes of its someday earning landmark designation. He stood fast against high-rise encroachment and turned down multi-million-dollar offers for 160 West 56th Street, knowing that such a sale would probably be the end of a very special way of life.

    Joseph Patelson died in 1992 at age 81. His son Dan became the owner.

    This is as good a point as any to begin to chronicle the company’s decline. I will not do that here. At some later date, when I have determined how to publicly describe the next 15 years or so and protect myself against litigation at the same time, I may say more.

    I hope that the sad ending does not prevent some knowledgeable young person with the energy, patience dedication and capital, from embarking on at least some specialized aspect of this beautiful profession. I do think Patelson’s, with appropriate intercession in 1992, would have adapted and thrived in our modern retail mileu.

    Michael Meltzer, October 15, 2013

  • idavis says:

    I enjoyed my time working at Patelson’s c. 1989 and serving all the greats who came in…everyone from Sting to Jean-Pierre Rampal. And, of course, I enjoyed browsing the shelves. But, I do have to say, from an inside view, the place was pretty dysfunctional. They never did an inventory – they just re-ordered something when it ran out. So, they had no idea of how many copies of an item they had sold vs it leaving the store by a means other than commerce! (Which happened a lot!) They had the attitude that if the customer wanted something the store didn’t stock, it was almost the fault of the customer for wanting something slightly off the beaten track – so they would often just suggest calling Frank Music or Colony! But, that said – it was a landmark store and the end of an era. Anyway, I just go to Frank Music now.

  • Christopher Czaja Sager says:

    the secret to Patelson’s perhaps: you, Ms. Ivanoff, and others are musicians with a love and appreciation for such an unusual shop.There is no comparison to the impersonal autism of internet ‘purchases’! I was referring to difficult-to-find printed music in 1962- pre CD and pre corporate NSA internet

  • Christopher CZAJA SAGER says:

    ahh,,Slipped Disc is mush better than FB et al: wonderful to see Bernie, that we are still’ about’! I heard one of your heirs( in stature) Tabea Zimmerman who had a Viola Fest in Berlin; a vila d’amore sonata of Hindemith, Tabea playing an exotic Berio work.Patelson’s: where I found a 19th century print of Clementi’s great G minor Opus 34…in the Antiquariat,The personnel then always helpful, polite and…knowledgeable

  • I worked for Joseph Patelson from 1985-1990 while I was a member of the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys (1978-1998). There I found my calling in life. Joseph and I got along great and when the mergers and acquisitions of the mid 80’s created “out of print” problems we started reprinting various out of print titles. For several years I really enjoyed working there until it got unbearable. There was really no management at all and the tail was wagging the dog. I met so many people and really could not have started my business, Classical Vocal Reprints if I had not paid my dues in the trenches of Patelsons. The demise of this great institution started after Joseph in 1992 died and left the business to his son, Danny. Danny had no passion for the music business and spent the store revenues on his passion of racing cars rather than paying publisher’s bills. The reason the stock dwindled to nothing is because publishers had stopped filling their orders. After Danny’s untimely death, his wife Marsha inherited these problems that were impossible to overcome. They never realized that the customer was “king” and that you treat your customers and help your customers the best you can. After I left Patelsons, I was lucky to acquire the vocal stock of the store that had been in the Ansonia Hotel, Lincoln Square Music. 80,000 sheets. Vincent Criscuolo had collected many remnants of various New York music stores and publishers. Now in my 26th year of business, I owe a great debt of gratitude to Joseph Patelson. It pains me deeply to see the destruction of this place. Now I work on a mountain in Arkansas and deliver music digitally all over the world. I’m surrounded by stacks and stacks of old music and receive pdfs of new music to publish from American composers. If only Joseph had left the business to me. Good thing he didn’t because the place would have given me a heart attack!!!

  • Juliana Bishop Hoch says:

    My humble comment added here. Patelson’s was a big part of my life – especially when my precious aunt Peggy Bussom bought my hard cover opera scores there – to launch my operatic career in 1974. (I believe she bought at least 10 scores) . She believed in me and the published scores that were part of my future. Through the many years that followed from 1981-1994 I shopped at Patelsons and had an account there. I was part of NYC and part of the opera scene in the world – I met my dear friend Glendower Jones at Patelsons and have continued the partnership with him over these many years until 2013. I can’t believe the building is gone. It is just too hard to imagine. But life goes on and I thank you Jos. Patelson and staff for keeping me going for so many years. After I moved to Colo in 1994, Patelsons continued to send me music when I called. I am so thankful for that. Good bye to so many precious memories

  • cabbagejuice says:

    Gosh, I always wanted to revisit the place. Somehow, the place with its varnished cabinets is still in my mind’s eye.

  • Although we are not talking about the sad February of 1959, I think is good idea to remember now what Don McLean said in his American Pie:

    “The day the music died”

  • D. Patrick Morris says:

    I purchased the Eulenburg miniature score of Mahler Symphony #7 after hearing a performance by the Cleveland Orchestra. I was a music student at Hunter College in the early 1970’s. One of my professors, Clayton Westerman, gave me his ticket to the Carnegie Hall performance. The first movement of the symphony features the “Tenorhorn in B”, which is closely related to my instrument, the euphonium. Over the years, I’ve purchased lots of scores and other items. The store was a continuous part of my musical development. I recently retired from The United States Army after 30 years as an Army musician. I have wonderful memories that include Patelson’s (and the grey bags with the string ties).

  • Nardo says:

    Norman Lebrecht wrote: <> That would have been a difficult for Peter Ilyitch, as Patelson’s as a music store didn’t exist back then: the building, yes, the store, no.

    • Nardo says:

      Hmmm – the quote to my above comment didn’t appear. It’s this one: “The 56th Street store where everyone from Tchaikovsky on went to buy their scores is now a screened-off hole in the ground.”

  • Rich Rubin says:

    My name is Richard Rubin. I am 72 years old. I grew up in the Bronx. When I was in college, I worked at Patelson’s. I was in the same class as his daughter-in-law Marsha Popowitz who actually took over running the store. I was lucky enough to have served the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Fiedler, legendary actress Melina Mercouri. I am a French horn player still playing since I was in the 7th grade. Patelson’s was a very special place to me and many other people. I went to the Mannes College of Music from 1965 through 1969. I played my French horn professionally, but most of my career I was a music teacher/band director at a junior high school in Brooklyn. I attended the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. I am very saddened that Patelson’s is just a hole in the ground in back of the famous Carnegie Hall where I performed and conducted.

  • Thomas says:

    Thoroughly disgusted!!!!!!!I live in Europe, need I explain the anger I feel for this violent erasure in the name of bigger profits for a few greedy landlords.