A Brief History of Transcontinental Music Publications
A division of the American Conference of Cantors
Transcontinental Music Publications (TMP), operated by the American Conference of Cantors, was founded by Josef Freudenthal in 1938. He was a composer and copyright lawyer who immigrated to the United States just in time to escape World War II and the Holocaust. He found that he was not alone. There were many immigrant Jewish composers, primarily from Eastern Europe, searching for a way to express their Jewish identity and to be recognized for their contributions. When Freudenthal established TMP, he quickly attracted young, talented composers as well as those who had achieved national and international recognition. It quickly took its place alongside old, established companies that published formal synagogue music by Jewish composers such as Bloch Music Publishing and Mills Music. For many years, TMP was known as the largest publisher of Jewish art and choral music. Today, TMP is still the largest, yet represents a wide spectrum of Jewish music, including songbooks/anthologies (folios), choral music, and recordings.
When Josef died in 1963, his wife Marie, a musician and recognized singer, assumed the administration and supervised sales for the company. Her little store on Broadway was the second home of every musician in the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements. It eventually became difficult for her to continue her one woman act, and in 1975 she approached the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism, the Reform Movement’s central governing body) to offer all the copyrights and all the stock as a gift.
The rabbis of the URJ did not really know how to approach this gold mine, so they brought in Kurt Stone, one of the most recognized and respected editors in the music industry. He was responsible for setting the standard of excellence for which Transcontinental is known today. He did not know Hebrew well, however, and both he and the URJ agreed that knowledge of the language was mandatory if TMP was to fulfill its mission of supplying music materials to the movement. Cantor Stephen Richards, then a cantor in the New York area, was called in as a part-time editor, trained by Kurt Stone, and remained in that position from 1977-1980. When Cantor Richards accepted a cantorial position in Arizona, the URJ initiated a search for the next editor. Dr. Judith Tischler, a member of the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary, was hired as the next part-time editor. Also trained by Kurt Stone, she eventually became the full-time director and senior editor of TMP and remained with the URJ until her retirement in December, 1999.
Dr. Tischler was succeeded by Joel (Joe) Eglash, trained by Tischler, who guided TMP towards more modernized publishing goals, reflecting the needs and direction of the Movement. This included publishing anthologies representative of the music being used in its synagogues and summer camps, while keeping alive the choral tradition for which TMP is well-known. In addition, during this time, TMP broadened its reach and appeal by agreeing to a secular distribution deal with Hal Leonard Publications, the largest music publisher in the world. Eglash’s editors during this period were J. Mark Dunn (z''l) and Jonathan Hall.
During this time, TMP published now-classic anthologies like the Complete Shireinu, and began series which continue successfully today like Shabbat Anthology and Ruach, among many others, in an aggressive production schedule. TMP's strong name in the choral world continued to flourish as many choral publications became staples for community, school, church, and university choirs. Following Joel Eglash, in 2006, were Mike Boxer and Jayson Rodovsky, each continuing to publish the high quality of choral and folio products that were now expected from TMP. Also during this time, TMP was formally combined with the URJ Press (resource and textbook publisher for the Reform movement) and Sounds Write Productions (publisher of contemporary Jewish music recordings), to make the URJ Books and Music publishing group, a partnership begun in the early 2000s.
In 2015, the American Conference of Cantors (ACC), under the leadership of ACC president Cantor Mark Goldman and then-Vice President Cantor Steven Weiss, acquired Transcontinental Music Publications from the URJ, its sister organization. ACC then-vice president Cantor Claire Franco, COO Rachel Roth, and a returning Joel Eglash were brought in to oversee the transition, Eglash in his second tenure as director. TMP launched JLicense, the first Jewish music licensing agency, in 2017. It aims to help congregations legally and ethically use copyrighted music and be copyright compliant, and to help encourage the creation of new Jewish music and the development of Jewish music songwriters and composers through the channeling of royalties.
Now under the supervision of Reform cantors, TMP continues to define excellence in Jewish music publishing far into the future, honoring the tradition begun in 1938 by Josef Freudenthal. –– Prepared 2002 by Dr. Judith Tischler, revised by TMP
Current staff and officers of Transcontinental Music Publications:
Joe (Joel) Eglash, Director / TMP Executive Committee
Stacey Berliner, Customer Support
Cantor Steven Weiss, ACC TMP Chair / TMP Executive Committee
Cantor Claire Franco, ACC President
Cantor Leigh Korn, TMP Executive Committee
Rachel Roth, COO of the ACC