November 27, 2009

Oliver Ditson

Oliver Ditson (1811-1888) was one of this country’s most successful music publishers in the Victorian period. The Oliver Ditson Company in Boston was to publish "a wider variety of music, music journals, and music education books than had ever before been available." "Jingle Bells" was first published by Oliver Ditson in Boston in 1857 and the lively holiday tune became one of the most popular songs ever heard at Christmas time. During the American Civil War, Ditson released a number of popular songs, including the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground." Following Ditson’s death, his music publishing company continued unabated until it was purchased by Theodore Presser in Philadelphia. The Theodore Presser Company acquired the Oliver Ditson Company in 1931. Through this acquisition, Presser can trace its origins to 1783, when Batelle's Book Store (later the Oliver Ditson Company), began a music publishing business in Boston. The monumental and impressive St John the Evangelist was sculpted by Thomas Ball (1819-1911) in 1873 and placed on the Ditson Family Lot on Rhododendron Path. Ball was a well known sculptor and his equestrian statue of General George Washington was erected in 1869 in the Boston Public Garden, facing the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

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