Publicity for Editions Francis Salabert by Roger de Valerio on the back of a 1924 sheet music album.
Publishers often use the back cover of sheet music to make their own publicity. But on this last page they also promote their music catalogue or the next
hits. We have tried to bring together the different approaches to these catalogue advertisements. Our selection has become a long list, take your time and browse at your ease. But don’t hesitate to click here and there: some advertisements are precious gems in all their details… Feast your eyes!
Example of a back cover with publicity for the music catalogue. Here illustrator Gilbàs uses modernistic typography to create a dynamic and attractive layout for the Mascheroni music catalogue (Milano, ca. 1925).
Two back covers in Art Nouveau style showing the readers the first bars of the songs. Illustrated by Ricardo Barabandy (left) and H. Viollet (right) ca. 1900. Click image to enlarge
Two illustrated catalogues for publisher Lemoine in Paris. The symbolist ornaments and foliage pattern on the left is from Eugène Grasset, the one on the right with thistles and lyre is from Adolphe Giraldon (ca. 1900). Have a look at the title of the first work of Emile Pessard in the right catalogue. Circassian beauties really must have fascinated more than one composer! Click image to enlarge
Late 19th-century illustrated catalogues. These are from the back covers of sheet music published by Alfred Michow (Berlin, on the left) and Au Métronome (Paris, on the right). Click image to enlarge
Left: the German illustrator detailed a very narrative view of the catalogue of his client. On the right, the music catalogue (Costallat) is inventively shown as sheet music richly decorating the walls of a bourgeois interior. Two ladies of the house prepare themselves at the piano, setting the tone for a cosy atmosphere. Both illustrator and printer achieved an amazing level of detail! Click image to enlarge
On both back covers,musicians are supposed to enliven the advertised catalogue. On the left, a ballroom illustration for Bosworth & Co by P. Schumann (s.d.). Right, a fine Barcelonese jester drawn by J. Vals (1925). Click image to enlarge
Decorated back covers for publishers Maillochon in Paris (illustrated in Art Deco style by Choppy, on the left) and Stöppler in Wiesbaden (on the right, with a butterfly fairy drawn by the Australian children book illustrator Ida Rentoul Outhwaite). Click image to enlarge
Also the Italian publisher Carisch and the French Max Eschig used to promote new songs on their back covers. On the left, a lively jazzband drawn by Ruolinari (s.d.), on the right another jazzband with stereotyped black musicians (illustrator and date unknown). Click image to enlarge
More back covers with a musical theme to ornate the music catalogue. Left, sheet music from Roehr Edition (unknown illustrator) and, right, publicity for Charles Brüll (illustrated by H. Michaelis, s.d.) Click image to enlarge
Plagiarism? Two very similar Austrian back covers, both using the caricature of a master of ceremony. Figaro Verlag on the left, and Wiener Excelsior Verlag on the right (unsigned, s.d.) Click image to enlarge
Two cheerful back covers illustrated by cartoonist Pol Rab, for publishers Pêle-Mêle (left) and Maillochon (right). Click image to enlarge
On both these back covers women in festive dress are charming us in buying the music catalogues of publishers Jack Mills (left, illustrated by the Starmer brothers) and Les Editions du Music-Hall (right, illustrated by Pol Rab). Click image to enlarge
Two similar announcements of the latest hits on the back covers of Edizioni Curci (on the left, unknown illustrator) and UFATON Verlag (right, illustrated by Herzig, s.d.). Click image to enlarge
Both these accordeon music publishers in the North of France (Candson and Marceau) keep their advertisement rather simple with a typed list of titles. Click image to enlarge
For these back covers the illustrators Bonfanti on the left, and Cerutti on the right, chose for a swinging layout and a dynamic photo montage to advertise the musical successes of Carisch and Salabert respectively. Click image to enlarge
Arturo Bonfanti is too much of an artist not to find creative solutions for promoting the music catalogue of his client (Carish, 1928 and 1930). Click image to enlarge
We close this post about ‘the other side of sheet music’ with two more of Bonfanti’s merry and inventive illustrations for the back covers of Carisch & Jänischen (1929). Click image to enlarge
Detail on the back cover catalogue for publisher Aromando (Milano). Illustrated by Sandro Properzi (s.d.).
'Ceci et ça' about Illustrated Sheet Music