WINDBER — Musical virtuoso Zupe, from Windber, has taken his love of polka to another level.
Two years after producing the Grammy-nominated polka CD “Na zdrowie!” (Nostrovia!),” the composer and producer has teamed up with veteran accordionist Alex Meixner, of New Braunfels, Texas, to take ownership of Music Publishers of America.
“We’ve been friends for years and always wanted to work together,” said Zupe, who received a text message from Meixner in January that simply read, “Do you want to buy a publishing house with me?”
The message led to a phone call that got the barrel rolling.
“That sounds pretty cool,” Zupe told his new business partner. By the end of August, the men held the publishing rights to nearly 1,000 registered copyrights to original compositions, arrangements and lyrics.
The company’s primary business is the sale of music associated with Music Publishers of America’s predecessor – the historic Vitak-Elsnic Co. – which is considered the world’s premier collection of American polka music, setting the standard for the genre that represents German, Austrian, Slovenian, Czech and Polish across the United States.
Zupe and Meixner plan to use their combined talents and decades of experience to take the 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 said. “It is the music brought to this country by immigrants that has contributed to the industrialization of our country. It’s 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.
Meixner, whom Zupe called his “Head Polka Commando” on “Na zdrowie!” is a fourth generation polka artist with Austrian and Czech roots. He has entertained audiences around the world since he was 6 years old.
“I’m excited to build on the rich history of music publishing company Vitak-Elsnic in its next chapter,” Meixner said. “This catalog has played a big part in my personal musical soundtrack, across three generations of my family, and I look forward to working with Zupe to bring this music to the world for its past, present and future relevance.”
With a credit card and a few mouse clicks, musicians and bandleaders can download sheet music arrangements of polkas, waltzes and marches from their website.
The physical music library is archived in a few locations – one being Bowling Green State University in Ohio, which currently has two copies of each piece in the print catalog in the music library.
“We formed with them in 2014 the Polka Preservation Fund,” Zupe said. “It’s a large library of sheet music, as well as our sound recordings and even some musical instruments, if I’m not mistaken.”
Zupe said the music he and Meixner now own the rights to is a big part of his family’s legacy.
“It’s personal to me,” he said. “My mother’s father was born in what was Czechoslovakia to two Russian parents.”
The polka music he heard in the depths of his youth on Sunday morning radio shows and at firehouse weddings has now become a defining genre that led to his most successful musical project to date. day.
“Na zdrowie! has won 23 national and international awards.
Handing over the reins to Meixner and Zupe, corporate tax attorney Steven D. Harris of Virginia Beach, Va., said in a press release, “Since its founding, there have been only four owners of Vitak-Elsnic Co. For the past 14 years, I have had the honor of being the steward of this priceless piece of American musical heritage.
“In addition to their musical prowess, Alex and Zupe have boundless energy and enthusiasm. I am confident that they will continue the process of not only preserving and promoting the catalog, but also developing it in new and exciting ways.