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Wallingford Riegger - estate?

I'm hoping someone can help me in identifying (and contacting) the estate of the late American composer, Wallingford Riegger (1885 - 1961). I'm about to record a choral work of his that was originally published by Alexander Broude, Inc. However, that publisher is no longer in business, and most of its catalogue was purchased by Masters Music/E F Kalmus. They did not, though, acquire the rights to the Riegger piece. Has anyone any leads as to his estate? I'd appreciate any suggestions.
 
Philip Barnes
St. Louis, MO.
Replies (7): Threaded | Chronological
on January 26, 2013 7:13pm
Hi Philip, this is some pretty basic information, so please excuse me if you've been through these already.
 
Due diligence would include contacting the Harry Fox Agency.  
If you wish to record/release the piece, they would be the logical contact.  
ASCAP and BMI have online databases that allow you to search for publishers, if the piece has already been recorded and released.  
You might try contacting the BMI classical or ASCAP classical departments directly as well.  
Their portfolios may not be in the online "song" catalogs.
Perhaps the publishers who did purchase some of the Broude catalogue might know where the rest went.
If that doesn't help, you might try a research librarian who specializes in sheet music or music of the appropriate time and geography.  
 
on January 26, 2013 11:14pm
Hi Philip,
 
In my opinion, once Riegger sold the copyright to Broude he, nor his estate, has no further claim to the piece. I would suggest that it is now in the public domain due to the demise of the copyright holder, Broude.
 
Paul Carey
on January 27, 2013 9:43am
"once Riegger sold the copyright to Broude he, nor his estate, has no further claim to the piece."
 
This is not entirely accurate.  
1. Riegger's estate likely retains a "writers share" of royalty income from performances and mechanicals.  
2. Even if the publisher is defunct, they still own intellectual property.  It does not revert to the public domain merely because you cannot find their office.  In theory, whoever owned the company still has a claim to the publisher share; and if not, that share would likely revert to the Riegger estate.
3. Things do not fall into the public domain merely because you cannot find their owner.  There is a legal definition of what constitutes public domain in the United States, you may want to research that.
 
I think a better way of putting this is that "it is now unlikely anyone would come after you to collect royalties, due to the demise of the copyright administrator."  Do not confuse this with actual public domain status, which is tightly restricted.
on January 27, 2013 9:55am
Paul:  With alll respect, copyright questions are confusing enough without adding to them with misinformation.  You wrote:  "In my opinion, once Riegger sold the copyright to Broude he, nor his estate, has no further claim to the piece. I would suggest that it is now in the public domain due to the demise of the copyright holder, Broude."
 
First, a copyright may be sold, assigned, or otherwise disposed of since under U.S. law copyright is a property right, and the status of any such assignment or sale depends entirely on the wording of the particular contract that was signed, and it may have included provisions for the return of copyright to the composer (or his estate).
 
Second, copyrighted works are covered for specified lengths of time, and it makes no difference at all whether a particular coyright holder goes out of business or whether indeed a publisher chooses to keep a work available in print.  Under the 1909 law that time period was 28 years, renewable once for a total of 56 years.  And very little of Riegger's work predates 1923, which is the cutoff date for copyrights under 1909.  Under the 1976 revision of the law the time period was changed to the life of the composer plus 50 years (which has since been extended to, I believe, 70 years), and since Reigger died in 1961 that automtically extends his copyrights until 2031 (assuming that the earlier ones actually were renewed in their 28th year).  And only the calendar can place any given work in the public domain.
 
Third, that means that SOMEONE still owns those copyrights.  (Remember, they are PROPERTY rights and no one willingly gives those up!)  Now if Riegger was a member of ASCAP, I would think that they would have a record of whom to forward performance royalties to, so that might be the best place to start researching.  But if Broude's ENTIRE catalog was purchased by Masters Music, they probably do own that copyright unless there were provisions for it to revert to his estate, whether or not they choose to publish and make available any specific work, so they would have to confirm or deny that they hold the rights.
 
(There's also the question of whether "Broude" refers to "Broude Bros.," which is very much still in business largely involving reprints of early music, or whether it refers to an entirely different corporate entity.)
 
But to Philip's original question, recording rights are handled by the Harry Fox Agency in NYC, and this is a great example of when to use their services and let THEM do the research to determine who should get the statutory mechanical licensing fee for making the recording Philip wants to make.  You will never go wrong in assuming that a copyright is still in effect, if you can't prove otherwise, but you CAN definitely go wrong in assuming that something is in the public domain when in fact it is not.
All the best,
John
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 27, 2013 9:20am

Wallingford Riegger - (April 29, 1885 – April 2, 1961)
He married Rose Schramm in 1911, with whom he later had three daughters, so there are heirs to his copyrights.                                   If a work becomes POP it does not automatically become PD.

The publisher Alexander Broude has been out of business for many years.
The rights to some of the publications were acquired by Tetra/Continuo Music Group.
In 2006 Tetra was bought by Masters Music Publications, Inc., Boca Raton, Fl.
The rights to other A. Broude publications were acquired by CollaVoce/Plymouth Choral Library.
     http://www.collavoce.com/
No work by Wallingford Riegger is listed by either company.


He is a BMI composer. 101 works with publishers are listed
< http://repertoire.bmi.com/writer.asp?page=1&blnWriter=True&blnPublisher=True&blnArtist=True&fromrow=1&torow=25&affiliation=BMI&cae=26035318&keyID=288023&keyname=RIEGGER%20WALLINGFORD&querytype=WriterID>

A. Broude is not the same company as Broude Brothers LTD which is an active publisher/music dealer.
<http://www.broude.us/retail.html

 
on January 28, 2013 7:48am
I greatly appreciate all the advice and insight offered regarding my search for Riegger's heirs. I have heard from a fellow ChoralNet user who may be able to put me in touch with the family, so if that bears fruit, I will post the information for others who might be interested in Riegger's music.
 
To address some of the points that respondents have made:
I have corresponded with both the original commissioners (Bennington College) and with Masters Music/E F Kalmus, and both have checked their archives and then confirmed they have no rights or claim.
BMI does hold the license for any recorded performance; I have discovered that, confusingly, they list the piece under its Latin subtitle "Non Vincit Malitia" (Latin is not used in the actual underlay, however).
So, I have no concerns about the rights for our recording; we can pay BMI in the usual way. However, there remains the issue of who can grant permission to make photocopies, from which we can make that recording. I hope to have some news on that before too long.
 
The piece in question, "Evil Shall Not Prevail," was recorded before, in a live performance by the United States Naval Academy Protestant Chapel Choir and Glee Club, but that was in an arrangement for male voices. What the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus will record next month will be the original version, scored for double choir of SSA voices. This will form part of a programme devoted exclusively to American literature, from Dudley Buck to Stephen Paulus, for the Regent label. It is due for release in late 2013.
 
Again, many thanks to all who have stepped forward and helped me with my research. What a remarkable resource is ChoralNet!
 
Philip Barnes
St. Louis (MO)
 
on January 28, 2013 12:34pm
Philip:  Sounds as if your research is paying off!  But I'm confused by your statement that, "BMI does hold the license for any recorded performance."  BMI, like ASCAP, is a membership organization founded to collect royalties for LIVE performances, and I didn't think it had anything to do with licensing RECORDED performances.  That's done by a different organization, the Harry Fox Agency.  So the use of the term "license" is a bit confusing.  There are copyrights, which belong to SOMEONE and are administered by someone (and not necessarily the same someones!).  And there is the compulsory mechanical license that must be given, on payment of the statutory royalties, for any recording after the first recording has been made with the permission of the composer.  But it doesn't sound as if you're talking about either of these in regard to BMI.
All the best,
John
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