Werlein Music Store

image description
Werlein Music Store, 605 Camp St

Photo Credit: Charles L. Franck Photographers

History

Purchased in 1880 by the piano and music vendor Philip Werlein, Werlein Hall was originally built in 1866 as the National Theater. In its heyday, the National was the main venue for German-language Theater in the city. Located at the corner of Baronne and Perdido in the Central Business District, the building was designed by architect William Thiel. It was a superior theater with comfortable amenities, elegant details, and state-of-the-art fire-safety features for the time. Nonetheless, it was destroyed by a fire on July 2, 1887. Werlein’s music store, dubbed “the largest in the South,” was located at this time at 731 Canal St. [1]

In 1854, Philip P. Werlein opened his store at the old number 5 Camp St. Subsequently, it out-grew its accommodations five times during its 136-year existence in the city. In 1905, the store moved to its longest-occupied location, 605 Canal St. There it remained for 85 years, until it moved to Jefferson Parish in 1990. [2]

German Music Publishers

Many German musicians who immigrated to the United States established themselves as music publishers. Some German musicians who settled in New Orleans followed that well-established pattern. Emile Johns, the earliest sheet music printer known in New Orleans, was born in Poland and educated in Vienna. His Album Louisiana is believed to be the first music with a New Orleans imprint. Other local German musicians-turned-publishers include Theodore von LaHache, Henri Lehmann, Philip Werlein, and Louis Grunewald. The Werlein and Grunewald firms were celebrated in music on various occasions with images of their stores gracing the sheet music covers. [3]

Philip P. Werlein

Philip Peter Werlein, educator and founder of the Werlein music business, was a German-born American music publisher. He was born in Rheinkreisz, Bayern, Germany, on March 30, 1812. At the age of nineteen he came to America and taught music for a short time, before finally settling in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he opened his first music store in 1842. In 1853 he decided to seek a larger field, venturing to New Orleans to open a store. [4]

He was affiliated with the Democratic Party. Before and during the Civil War his sympathies were entirely with the South. [5] Because of his loyalty to the Confederacy he and his family were forced to leave the city. During his absence, his stock was seized by Federal troops and sold at public auction. Thus his entire business was ruined. On November 1, 1865, with the few pianos that been saved from seizure by hiding them, the business was resumed. [6]

Upon reopening, Philip P. Werlein’s son, also named Philip, became the new owner. Many years later, the business fell to Philip Werlein, Jr.‘s son. In 1940, David Franck bought the Werleins’ publishing business, but the family kept their retail store open in New Orleans. The chain of Werelein’s Music Stores continued in Greater New Orleans until the start of the 2000s. [7]

Involvement in Civil War

The most pressing political problem of the 1850s centered around slavery and secession. German sentiment on slavery was divided, with perhaps more of them opposed to slavery than in favor. The reasons for this were that few Germans owned slaves and few were in competition with slave labor. [8]

During the civil war, wealthier German citizens who did not own slaves leaned heavily toward pro-slavery sentiments because their income was derived in one way or another from the proceeds of slave labor. At the same time, the natural German attitude was anti-slavery. [9]

About the time war clouds were gathering, young Daniel Emmett, with his minstrel troupe, composed and sang, “I wish I was in Dixie.” This song, popularly known as “Dixie,” was published by the “House of Werlein,” and became the marching song of the Confederate soldiers at the height of the Civil War. While the publication of “Dixie” was in pursuance of Philip’s business, it might be said, particularly in the light of the consequences of the war upon his business venture, that it expressed his love and affection for the South and its way of life. [10]

Community Engagement / Marketing

Over the course of Werlein’s history, the store pioneered an effort to keep music accessible in the city. Philip Werlein established a reasonably priced piano rental program, underwrote a full season of the city opera and substantially supported the symphony to ensure music’s place in New Orleans. [11]

One of the most innovative promotions of the time was Werlein’s support for school bands. The store’s Band Organization Department was responsible for the Southern Bell Telephone’s first employee band in 1929, as well as a noteworthy all girl band. [12] Werlein’s shifted their focus to creating school bands after the Great Depression and through the 1960’s. In order to jump start their school band program, Werlein’s held a contest in 1932 at the Loyola stadium, which was so well attended that state officials took note, subsequently naming a state music supervisor and developing state music programs. [13] Numerous advertisements for the initiative promoted the social and developmental benefits of school bands; one example quoted a Leavenworth Penitentiary warden: ‘Teach a boy to blow a horn and he will never blow a safe.’ [14]

See example advertisements in the photo bar, top right. [15] [16] [17]

Works Cited

  • Magill, John and Hammer, Daniel. “The Germans: From Downtown to Central City,” The Historic New Orleans Collection (20 February 2009), #1959.172.5
  • Magill, John and Hammer, Daniel. “The Germans: From Downtown to Central City,” The Historic New Orleans Collection (20 February 2009), #1959.172.5
  • HNOC. Music and Socializing. http://www.hnoc.org/collections/gerpath/gersect4.html (28 April 2009)
  • Undated clipping in the Private Scrap Book of Philip Werlein Company, New Orleans Louisiana.
  • Fortier, Louisiana (Century Historical Association, 1914), III, 461.
  • Clippings undated in Private Scrap Book of the Company, Canal Street, New Orleans; New Orleans Times Picayune, January 25, 1937
  • Abel, E. Lawrence (2000). Singing the New Nation: How Music Shaped the Confederacy, 1861-1865. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books.
  • Nau, John F. “The German People of New Orleans 1850-1900,” USM Publication & Printing Services (1958), 32.
  • Robert T. Clark, Jr., “The New Orleans German Colony in the Civil War,” loc. cit., XX (1937), 995
  • Undated clipping in the Private Scrap Book of Philip Werlein Company, New Orleans Louisiana.
  • Polster, Jim. “From Enrico Caurso to Fats Domino.” Lagniappe. 23 June 1979. p 9.
  • Kelly, John. “1929: Werlein’s promotes company bands.” The Times-Picayune. 28 August 2011. Link
  • Polster, Jim. “From Enrico Caurso to Fats Domino.” Lagniappe. 23 June 1979. p 9.
  • Kelly, John. “1929: Werlein’s promotes company bands.” The Times-Picayune. 28 August 2011. Link
  • “Advertisement: Let Us Organize Your Band!.” The Times-Picayune. 16 September 1929. p. 12.
  • “Advertisement: Let Werlein Help You to Make Your School Band.” The Times-Picayune. 9 September 1934. p. 9.
  • “Advertisement: Make Your School Band a Grand and Glorious Success.” The Times-Picayune. 24 September 1929. p. 4.

This page was last modified on 01 November 2012, at 07:11

VIEW PLACE PROFILE

Werlein Music Store

605 Camp St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA