Visions of Music

Visions of Music

Sheet Music in the Twentieth Century

by Tony Walas


“Vintage popular sheet music has two natures,” writes Tony Walas in the prelude to his book Visions of Music: Sheet Music in the Twentieth Century (November 2014, Hal Leonard Books, $34.99). “Its primary function is to pass along the musical ideas of a composer, which is the actual transcription of a composition. A secondary feature, and the main one for collectors, is the visual aspect of the cover itself.”

Music is meant to be heard, yet there is a whole subculture of the music industry that is solely devoted to the production of music on the printed page – sheet music. In the world of antiques, sheet music is classified under the category of “ephemera,” defined as “printed or paper items that were originally expected to have only a short-term usefulness or popularity.”

Sheet music is something to be used, yet also a piece of art to be saved and visually enjoyed. The covers offer keen insight into the world as it was, reflecting the passage of time. It’s the memories and history they invoke that transcends the music they contain.

Lavishly illustrated with over 700 faithful reproductions of sheet music covers, Visions of Music spans the 20th Century and captures the moods, sensibilities, and, sometimes, the prejudices of each decade. Walas provides fans with an indispensable outlet to connect with these pieces from the past, preserving their remarkable perspective, their visual delight, and the colorful history they represent.

November 4, 2014
10 ¾” x 8 ¼”

340 pages


Tony WalasTony Walas received his BA from the University of Illionois in 1975, with a major in history. He has worked in the print music industry since 1973, in both retail and wholesale operations. He started his sheet music collection in the mid-1980s, and it now contains approximately 5,000 titles. He lives in Lemont, Ill.




Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on October 24, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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