M. Witmark & Sons

This web page is about M. WITMARK & SONS, MUSIC PUBLISHERS. The firm of Marcus Witmark & Sons was a leading publisher of sheet music established in New York City in 1886. It is included because this company published almost all the songs of John W Bratton, including the only evergreen song, Teddy Bear's Picnic

Father Marcus Witmark was the legal head of the company, but from the beginning it was run by his sons Isadore, Julius, and Jay, who were under legal age when the company started (ranging in age from 17 to 14 years old).

They had their own printing machine and started out publishing their own compositions. They were adept at plugging songs, and within a few years were publishing the works of such composers as John W Bratton, Gus Edwards George M Cohen and Victor Herbert

When the International Copyright Law was passed in 1891, Witmark pioneered publishing versions of British music in the United States and arranging for American hits to be published in the U.K.

Their company was the first of its kind because they published “professional copies” and made them available to everybody in the industry, especially performers.

In 1899, they published the Paul West song “I Want Dem Presents Back”, which became an instant hit, especially after the song was performed on Broadway.

The Witmarks also published many of George M. Cohan’s songs, and his first big hit called “I Guess I’ll Have To Telegraph My Baby” in 1898.

One of the reasons why the Witmark’s business was successful was because of the popularity of “coon” songs, which had begun to dominate the Tin Pan Alley style.

It seems incredible that titles such as that one and strap lines like "Coon March", "A Darkie Misunderstanding" or "A Coondom Throwdown" was around barely more than a hundred years ago. See the Coon Song section

Ragtime also brought great success to the business although they missed out on the biggie... Irving Berlin was published by Ted Snyder

They would use the space at the bottom of each page to promote other songs in their stable

and often the whole of the back cover would be used to promote their publications

In 1907 they published the hugely popular The Teddy Bears' Picnic which sold worldwide
In 1929 M. Witmark was purchased by Warner Brothers