While a teenager in Great Neck, New York, the “publishing bug” bit Fred and it got in his blood. He started a little company, Songarama, with only one song, the critically acclaimed “V Is for Victory.” Today, that dream has grown into a family of catalogs that is known as the Fred Bock Music Companies.
1970 was a year of many changes in the Bock family. First, Fred made the decision to leave his employer, Word Records, and launch his own publishing company. That was also the year that Fred and Lois' second son, Jonathan, was born into the family. And it was the same year that their two-car garage became a no-car garage. There was not a spare room in the house for an office, so Fred Bock Music Company was born in a garage and grew there for three years. They always looked back on the year 1970 as the year of growth in their lives. First their family grew, then the dream of publishing grew to reality with a full-fledged company, and it was also a year of great spiritual growth for the two of them. Fred used to say "That was the year Lois and I grew up."
Since they had very little money in their bank account, Fred borrowed $1000 from his father to launch this dream. One of the early success stories came about because of Fred's computer brain. When the film "The Graduate" was released everyone was singing “Scarborough Fair.” Most people gave composer credit to Simon and Garfunkel, but Fred knew that “Scarborough Fair” was in Public Domain. So Fred published several choral arrangements of that song and the checks came in handy! This became the first "hit" in his Gentry Publications catalog, and he was able to repay his father within three months.
There are so many happy memories that go into this history. As Lois recalls, "In those early days, we knew all of the composers personally as most of them lived in Southern California. In fact one evening, almost all of our composers came to our home for dinner." We still know our composers, but entertaining them now would be a daunting task as there are too many to sit around the dining room table and they are located in cities throughout the world.
Two years following the birth of Gentry Publications, another facet of publishing began with the conception of the Fred Bock Music Company. Both companies, like children, have their own distinct identity. Gentry focuses on the market of high school, college and community choirs that are interested in singing more serious music. Meanwhile, Fred Bock Music Company offers service-appropriate music dedicated to church choirs and instrumentalists.
Since 1970, the catalogs have grown from those few original choral arrangements to include sacred and secular choral works, piano and organ compositions, children’s musicals vocal and instrumental solos, and handbell publications. Some of the key publications over the years include the piano series Bock’s Best, a five-volume series of 225 of Fred’s best piano arrangements. Angels, Lambs, Ladybugs and Fireflies was the first major children’s musical published by a church music publisher, and it redefined the market for children’s choral music. “Witness”, “Peace, Peace” and “I Sing the Greatness of Our God” are three choral pieces that have become standard repertoire for most choirs around the world and can certified as “classics” by any measurement.
Over the years, Fred purchased other catalogs and he treated each new addition like a father with a new child. He joyfully incorporated them into the family of publishing:
- In 1975, he bought Fox Music Publishing
- In 1979, he purchased Asaph Music from Pauline Michael Mills
- In 1981, he added the Raymond A. Hoffman Company
- In 1983, he brought home the H. T. FitzSimons Company
- In 1994, he purchased Laudamus Press
- In 1995, he added Alperson Music
- In 1995, he started PurpleMountain Records
Because of his great love for the Faure¢ Requiem, Fred negotiated for several months to purchase the H. T. FitzSimons Company. When the time came for what he hoped would be his last trip to Chicago to negotiate with the owner of the company, he boarded his United Airlines Flight and found that he had been assigned seat 4A. He took that to be a good omen! It turned out to be true, and the next day he became the owner of the H. T. FitzSimons catalog.
Along with sacred, classical, and educational music, Fred loved movie themes. So when given the opportunity to purchase Alperson Music, he jumped at the chance. With this catalog, Fred Bock Music Company entered into a relationship with Edward Alperson, Jr. Along with Edward’s beautiful scores also came a wealth of wonderful stories and recollections of the Golden Era of Hollywood.
Fred formed lasting relationships with his composers. Each brings a different gift to the table and Fred loved the variety of music that he could publish. You can find out about these composers and/or arrangers right here on this web site.
Fred collaborated with many fine musicians. One of which was Bryan Jeffery Leech, who was Fred’s Assistant Editor on the Family of God hymnal. Bryan’s lyrics and Fred’s music are magic. We are so pleased that, even though Fred is no longer contributing new music to this partnership, Bryan has taken the charge of taking some of Fred’s hymn arrangements and adding new, fresh lyrics for the 21st Century. The first release of this new era of collaboration is the anthem “Living Lord and Risen Savior”, based on “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”
Fred had great joy in working with Betty Hager. Together they wrote nine children’s musicals, starting with the previously mentioned Angels, Lambs, Ladybugs and Fireflies. They brought fun to the children and laughter to the parents with their whimsical, yet lovely music and texts. That love for creating fun and accessible music for children was extended beyond the musicals to the creation of a choral series named after the Houston Children’s Chorus. Fellow prankster J. Paul Williams and his merry band of musicians, including such luminaries as Joseph Martin, Lloyd Larson, Mark Hayes, Craig Curry and Cindy Berry, were a constant source of imaginative and engaging music and conversation.
Fred was always so proud to be the publisher for Al McNeil and the Jubilee Singers. Rosephanye Powell is a more recent musical star, but he knew she was talented when he heard her first piece. For many years, Gentry has published the world-renowned choral works of Robert Young. He loved Robert’s music and loved telling people "Robert Young is a Southern gentleman."
Fred Bock Music Companies were owned and operated by a person who loved his chosen profession. He looked forward to going to the office each day. But his life was cut short very suddenly in July 1998. As he was being welcomed into Heaven, his family here was handed the responsibility of learning and working in the company. A new chapter in the history began.
Along with the existing loyal staff, new President, Lois Bock, appointed the first Editorial Board that any of the Fred Bock Music Companies had ever had. Allan Robert Petker, who started with Fred as an editor back in 1975 and eventually was promoted to Director of Publications in 1982, has returned to the company in the same capacity. Widely respected keyboard artist and composer, Jan Sanborn, has taken on the duties of Piano Editor for the companies. Dick Bolks, veteran choral and keyboard arranger, rounds out the Board. Together, these three bring years of experience, as well as a list of popular compositions and arrangements that include “Lamb of God, What Wondrous Love” (Petker), “No Longer a Baby” (Sanborn), and “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken” (Bolks). The company’s editorial staff is rounded out by organ virtuoso Mark Thallander, who is best known for his high-octane arrangements that were heard every Sunday for eighteen years at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.
In the three years since Fred's passing, new and innovative music has been published by all of the catalogs. Two new children's musicals have been produced and released, Heroes of the Faith and Archangel Gabriel's Awesome Adventure have both proven to be worthy follow-ups to the previous successful releases. We have also released many new piano, organ and instrumental books from such favorites as Carolyn Hamlin, Jan Sanborn, Michele Murray, and Lloyd Larson. Be sure to look into these titles and all of our new releases in the “What’s New” part of this site.
The Fred Bock Music Companies have also continued to enthusiastically discover, encourage and publish new writers and arrangers, including Kathy Maskell, Debbie Shaeffer, Beth Merrill, Eli Villanueva, and Donald Bailey. In addition to the Houston Children’s Chorus, Gentry Publications has launched two new series for younger singers: The Houston Children’s Chorus Classics series and the Alan Pote Pensacola Children’s Chorus series. For the collegiate choirs, Gentry has started two new series with noted conductors Dr. William Dehning (University of Southern California) and Paul Smith (Cal State University at Northridge).
For church choir directors, Fred Bock Music Company has launched a signature series from Kurt Kaiser devoted to the needs of small church choirs. A new Fred Bock Classics series aims to reintroduce some of Fred’s earlier compositions and arrangements to a new crop of directors. Talented singer and lyricist Steve Amerson has a new series with FBMC for choir and solo voice. The Heaven Bound Sound series, edited by Allen Satchwell, promises to bring vitality and excitement to the youth choirs everywhere.
While we celebrate our past and the wonderful legacy that Fred Bock has left his companies, we look forward to the future with great anticipation. We will continue to maintain Fred's high standards of excellence in the music we choose to publish, as well as the manner in which that is done. We will continue to honor our composers and their creations with the same passion and respect that Fred demonstrated. And we will continue to push forward to discover new and innovative musicians whose compositions broaden and deepen the contributions to the world of music.
Glendale, CA. 91209
(818) 551-0801 Fax