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Home Sweet Home: Life in Nineteenth-Century Ohio is made available on this Web site with permission from New World Records, Recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc., 16 Penn Plaza #835, New York, NY 10001-1820, www.newworldrecords.org External.
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Detail of W.C. Peters and Sons insignia. Performing Arts Reading Room, Library
William Cumming Peters was a composer, arranger, organist, and music publisher.
Born in Devon, England in 1805, Peters emigrated to the United States from
England around 1820. Peters opened the first piano and music store in Pittsburgh
in the 1820s, and also worked there as a music teacher, clarinettist, organist
and composer. Peters moved to Louisville in 1832 and started a music school
and circulating music library.
Around 1840 he began a music publishing business in Louisville, Peters, Browning
& Co., which expanded quickly to Cincinnati under the name Peters &
Co. Popular composers such as Stephen C. Foster and Henry Russell were in
the company's music catalog. He went on to open other publishing companies
in Baltimore, New York, and St. Louis with alternative partners.
Peters moved to Cincinnati in 1851 and formed with his sons a successor publishing
company to his previous one, with the new name W. C. Peters & Sons. It
became one of the most influential of the nineteenth century, publishing many
different types of music. Peters was active arranging and composing music
himself for the firm. A fire in 1866 caused the company to lose all of its
stock and plates, and one month later, Peters died from heart failure. His
brother and sons, who had been partners with him at different points of his
career, continued various music publishing ventures after his death.
In 1851 he wrote of the inherent artistic talents of Cincinnatians: "Several
ladies have lately left Cincinnati for Italy, for the purposes of studying
vocal music under some celebrated singing master. If they do as well in music
as their celebrated townsman [American neoclassical sculptor Hiram Powers]
has done in sculpture, the musical talent of Cincinnati will yet astonish