From Stages to Pages: Popular Entertainers Take Over Prolific Publishing Company
Grammy® nominated accordion virtuoso, Alex Meixner of New Braunfels, TX, and award-winning composer/producer, Zupe of Windber, PA, are joining forces and taking ownership of Music Publishers of America, which includes the historic Vitak-Elsnic music catalog. The Vitak-Elsnic Company is considered the world’s premier publisher of American polka music, with nearly 1,000 registered copyrights on original compositions, arrangements, and lyrics, setting the standard for the genre.
Meixner and Zupe plan on using their combined talents, and decades of experience in the music industry, to take this vast collection and modernize it for use in the 21st century.
“Polka music should be held in the same high regard as jazz and classical music,” Zupe states. “It is the music brought to this country by the immigrants who helped industrialize our nation.” He adds, “it is an integral part of the cultural fabric of this nation, and I look forward to introducing more people to this vibrant and surprisingly complex music.”
Alex Meixner comments, “I’m excited to build upon the rich history of the Vitak-Elsnic music publishing company in its next chapter. This catalog has played a big part in my personal musical soundtrack, through three generations of my family, and I look forward to working with Zupe to grow the awareness of this music for its past, present, and future relevance.“
Louis Vitak, the founder of the company that bears his name, emigrated to the U.S. in 1881 from Janovice, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). He composed and arranged music, ultimately self-publishing as early as 1894. After moving his business from Canton, Ohio, to Chicago in 1902, Vitak formed a partnership with concertina virtuoso Otto Georgi. By 1920, the Georgi & Vitak firm had become a very successful publisher of Bohemian-style music, producing dozens of arrangements of polkas, waltzes, and marches for bands and individual accordionists, pianists, and concertina players.
In 1924, the company changed its name to the Vitak-Elsnic Company, as Vitak transitioned leadership to his nephew, Joseph P. Elsnic, who was considered a musical phenomenon, mastering violin, accordion, piano, and virtually all of the brass instruments. Through the new leadership and added musical contributions, the Vitak-Elsnic Company vastly expanded its catalog to become a leading publisher of American polka music.
Alex Meixner has graced stages worldwide since the age of 6, first appearing with his father’s polka band (himself, a renowned polka music artist). He has grown to become a cultural ambassador of this lively and timeless music that represents German, Austrian, Slovenian, Czech, and Polish communities throughout the United States, while giving the music a distinctive American flair that fits with our nation being “the melting pot of the world.”
Zupe is a popular entertainer in the world of ballroom dance, performing at resorts, casinos, nightclubs, and cruise ships. His musical compositions have been heard in a myriad of popular television shows, as well as on film and stage. His most recent album of original polka music pays homage to his eastern European roots while maintaining a modern production sound.
Handing over the reigns to Meixner and Zupe is Steven D. Harris of Virginia Beach, who states, “Since its founding, there have only been four owners of the Vitak-Elsnic Company. For the past 14 years, I have been honored to serve as the steward of this priceless piece of America’s musical heritage. For me, the key to maintaining the company’s ongoing commercial viability has been to optimize its expansive catalog through the creation of new arrangements and sound recordings.”
Harris concludes, “In addition to their musical prowess, Alex and Zupe have boundless energy and enthusiasm. I am confident they will continue the process of not only preserving and promoting the catalog, but in building on it in new and exciting ways. Vitak-Elsnic couldn’t be in better hands.”