Southern Music Company, music publisher and distributor, was located at 1248 Austin Highway in San Antonio. Milton Fink, who was an associate of C. Bruno and Company, a longtime distributor of musical instruments out of New York, moved to San Antonio from New York in the 1930s. He married into the Scharlack family who owned Southern Jewelry Company, located on Houston Street in downtown San Antonio. In 1937 Fink started a music publishing/distribution and instrument enterprise, operating from humble beginnings as a single display in the rear of Southern Jewelry Company. As the business grew, he eventually focused strictly on publishing as Southern Music Company.
In 1950 Southern Music Company moved into a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building on the 1100 block of Broadway and developed a reputation as a leading publisher in sheet music. After Arthur Gurwitz of Laredo came to San Antonio and married Ruth Jean Scharlack in 1951, he eventually became president of Southern Music.
Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, Southern Music continued to expand its role as a publishing leader, both nationally and internationally. In the early 1950s the business purchased Andraud Company, another music publisher, and maintained its large back catalog. Notable among Gurwitz’s accomplishments was his securing of the copyright for “The Eyes of Texas"; on behalf of the University of Texas at Austin in 1986.
After conducting business at its landmark locale on Broadway for fifty years, in May of 2000 more than 300 tons of music, shelving, and furniture were moved to a new location, 33,000-square-feet of space on Austin Highway. A grand opening celebration was held on October 14, 2000.
In the early twenty-first century, Southern Music Company also included online services and continued to handle publishing needs ranging from orchestral to pop music. A leading publisher for band music both nationally and internationally, Southern Music was a primary publisher for UIL competition music in Texas. Their extensive catalog included the music both for the University of Texas Longhorn school song “The Eyes of Texas” and the Texas A&M University “Aggie War Hymn.”
Additionally, the company bought and distributed music from more than 500 other publishers and supplied a catalog of its own titles, which included the works of such well-known composers as Samuel Adler, Percy Grainger, Julie Giroux, James Barnes, W. Francis McBeth, Eric Ewazen, and John Philip Sousa. Southern Music Company also had the exclusive U.S. distribution rights to Japan’s Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra compact discs in the United States. The retail store maintained a large library of sheet music onsite for patrons and also offered various education products, as well as music DVDs and CDs.
As of 2011 Southern Music Company had a staff of approximately thirty-two. Arthur Gurwitz was president, and Bob Dingley served as general manager. In February 2012, however, the retail store closed as Gurwitz began liquidation of the business. Southern Music Company was purchased by Lauren Keiser Music Publishing on June 22, 2012. Though Southern Music Company still maintained an office, operated by manager Bob Dingley, in San Antonio, its voluminous inventory and publishing operation were transferred to Minnesota for distribution through Hal Leonard. The University of Texas at Austin had purchased publishing rights to its own fight song and “The Eyes of Texas,” which were not part of the sale of Southern Music’s catalog. Texas A&M University was in the process of acquiring the rights to the “Aggie War Hymn.”
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
Arthur Gurwitz and Bob Dingley, Interview by Lawrence J. Jasinski, February 20, 2009. Southern Music Company (http://www.southernmusic.com), accessed November 23, 2011. San Antonio Express-News, July 1, 1999; June 28, 2012.
Business, Promotion, Broadcasting, and Technology
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Lawrence J. Jasinski,
“Southern Music Company,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.