Leo Feist

Leopold Feist (1 March 1869 New York City – 21 June 1930 Mount Vernon, New York) founded and ran a music publishing firm bearing his name that — in the 1920s, at the height of the golden age of popular music — was among the seven largest publishers of popular music in the World.[2][3][4][5]

Leo Feist
Leo Feist
Photo from Music Trade Review, 1922[1]
BornJanuary 3, 1869
DiedJune 21, 1930(1930-06-21) (aged 61)
FamilyFelix E. Feist (nephew)

Leo Feist, Inc.

Feist marketed his publications very aggressively, even by Tin Pan Alley standards. He maintained offices in most major cities, each with a regional manager (in Boston, for instance, his delegate was Billy Lang). Favored employees were rewarded with corporate largesse; in 1914, for instance, selected managers gathered in Atlantic City, where it was said that "money flowed like water."[6]

As evidence of the size of his firm, Leo Feist, Inc., was one of seven defendants named in a 1920 Sherman antitrust suit brought by the US Justice Department for controlling 80% of the music publishing business.[7]

"My Blue Heaven," written by Walter Donaldson (music) in collaboration with George Whiting (lyrics), became the biggest song in the history of Leo Feist, Inc. Gene Austin recorded it (Victor 20964), selling over five million copies, and Eddie Cantor plugged it in vaudeville and in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. It sold over five million copies of sheet music.[4]

In 1935, five years after the death of Leo Feist, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired a controlling interest in the capital stock of Leo Feist, Inc.[9] In 1973, MGM sold Robbins, Feist, and Miller (known at Big 3) to United Artists.[10] In 1981, MGM acquired UA and formed MGM/UA Communications Co.[11]In 1983, MGM/UA sold its music publishing business to CBS Records.[12] CBS then sold the print music arm, Big 3 Music, to Columbia Pictures.[13]



In a pseudo-secret ceremony, Leopold Feist married Bessie Meyer June 24, 1904.[14]


Felix F. Feist (Jul 15, 1883 – Apr 15, 1936), Leo's brother, was a sales executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Felix Ellison Feist (Feb 28, 1910 – Sep 2, 1965) — a film and television director — was the son of Felix F. Feist. Felix Ellison Feist, as stepfather, adopted Raymond E. Feist.


Leonard S. Feist (1911–1996) Leo and Bessie's son was a music publisher, copyright expert, and advocate for the music publishing industry. Nathan Feist, (1905-1965) Publisher and Advertising Executive, Milton Feist, (1907-1975) rabbi, scholar, teacher, publisher, and translator of opera.[15]


  1. Leo Feist Celebrates 25th Business Anniversary Music Trade Review (journal), Vol. 75, No. 13, September 23, 1922, pg. 44
  2. "Leo Feist Dead; Music Publisher," New York Times, June 22, 1930
  3. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music (Feist is in Vol. 2 of 4), H. Wiley Hitchcock & Stanley Sadie (eds.), London: Macmillan Press (1986); OCLC 13184437
  4. Tin Pan Alley: An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song (new ed.), by David Alan Jasen (born 1937), New York: Routledge (2003) (biography contains portrait); OCLC 51631299
  5. Biographical Dictionary of American Music, by Charles Eugene Claghorn (1911–2005), West Nyack, New York: Parker Publishing Co. (1973); OCLC 609781
  6. New York Clipper, August 8, 1914, p. 5 (with photo)
  7. "Music Publishers Sued Here As Trust," New York Times, August 4, 1920
  8. Jasen, David A. (1988). Tin Pan Alley: the Composers, the Songs, the Performers, and their Times. New York: Donald I. Fine, Inc. p. 35. ISBN 1556110995.
  9. "Metro Acquires Leo Feist, Inc.," New York Times, October 29, 1935
  10. "Big 3 Sold to UA; Plus 1/2 Can. Co". Billboard Magazine. October 27, 1973. p. 3.
  11. International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 25. Detroit: St. James Press. 1999. ISBN 9781558623675. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  12. Irv Lichtman (January 8, 1983). "CBS Songs Grows With MGM/UA Deal". Billboard via Google Books.
  13. Irv Lichtman (February 12, 1983). "Columbia Pictures To Acquire Big 3". Billboard via Google Books.
  14. "Band and Friends Greet Bridal Pair,", Evening World (Evening Edition), August 29, 1904, pg. 5
  15. "Leo Feist, Music Publishing King, is Dead at Sixty". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. June 24, 1930.

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