So NYC’s last classical sheet music store is soon to close. Is this the end of classical music as we know it?


There was more sheet music sold online than ever before. Sheet music has never been more accessible. Anyone that has access to a computer either at home or at the library and a printer can get their hands on almost any musical idea written down… ever.

Is it sad that a small boutique shop is closing? Yes. Should we be worried about a decline of musicians? No.

I am a musician. I cannot remember walking into a physical store to purchase sheet music in recent memory. I play music every day. My life is surrounded by it. I am engulfed with it. Yet still, no store bought sheet music.

Though there is something special about buying a new music book, I hope that the facts are not construed to make it look like people are no longer interested in reading music.

Frank Music Company has supplied classical sheet music to generations of instrumentalists, singers and composers.

On Friday, the retail store will close its doors for good, succumbing to dwindling sales.

Frank Music has been struggling for years, as music became readily available online, said Heidi Rogers, the shop’s owner.

“We went from seeing 15 to 20 people per day to seeing two or three,” Ms. Rogers said on Monday. “I went from feeling like I was at the center of the world to feeling invisible.”

The store, on West 54th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, opened in 1937 and provided the city’s musicians scores from the standard— Bach, Beethoven—to the arcane. Ms. Rogers bought it in 1978.

Frank Music is the last store in the city dedicated to selling classical sheet music, Ms. Rogers said, although other places such as the Juilliard School’s bookstore at Lincoln Center have it on their shelves.

The school and Ms. Rogers declined to comment on financial details.

Colburn School’s president and chief executive, Sel Kardan, called Frank Music’s scores “an invaluable resource for our students and faculty for years to come.”

‘Everyone says, Aren’t you going to have a party? I feel like having a funeral.’

To the 63-year-old Ms. Rogers, nothing is more important than the arts.

“The idea that classical music is irrelevant is ridiculous,” she said, bemoaning the comparative salaries of tubists and stockbrokers. “People should be paid in terms of what they contribute to people’s well being.”

The store’s celebrity clients over the years have included pianists Emanuel Ax and Jeremy Denk, violinist Pamela Frank and cellist David Finckel.

One of Ms. Rogers’s favorite memories is a telephone call from the violinist Itzhak Perlman, asking for Kreisler scores.

The composer Bruce Adolphe, who is resident lecturer at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, described the store as a musical meeting ground.

“Frank’s Music was not just a store but a crucible,” he said, “a nexus where musicians from Suzuki beginners and their parents, to Joshua Bell, or the Brentano’s Mark Steinberg, would meet by chance.”

Its closing is perhaps the latest example of classical music’s changing brick-and-mortar businesses.

Joseph Patelson Music House, another longtime sheet-music establishment, closed in 2009, and Dowling Music shut its doors in 2013. Last year, J&R Music and Computer World, the last store in New York with a sizable classical CD section, stopped carrying classical albums.

Musicians have plenty of online opportunities to buy sheet music, whether from, AMZN 0.38 % publishers or specialty websites such as Sheet Music Plus.

The website IMSLP, a digital library of public-domain music, allows users to download scores for free. Some musicians with iPads have dispensed with pesky paper scores altogether.

For now, Ms. Rogers plans to pack up the rest of the store’s contents and then spend some time on her farm in the Catskills, where she has tenant farmers and 50 chickens.

“Everyone says, ‘Aren’t you going to have a party?’ ” she said. “I feel like having a funeral.” Via

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