We invite you to read through a brief history of Vanguard Records, but we caution you, the best way to get to know Vanguard is to audibly sample our rich musical history! Go to our Media page to hear some music from our current and catalog artists.
50 years ago Seymour Solomon and his younger brother Maynard founded Vanguard Records in New York City. The two brothers started with a $10,000 loan from their father and rented a tiny one-room office in a rabbit warren at 80 East 11th Street (also known as 799 Broadway). Two years later, as the company was expanding, they were loaned an additional $13,000 This was the total capitalization for a company that within a few years was to become one of America's leading independent labels.
Founded at an auspicious moment in music history, with the LP format having been introduced two years earlier, Vanguard first commissioned the recordings of five Bach cantatas. From the beginning the company maintained two label series, Vanguard and the Bach Guild, and as the LP market blossomed Vanguard's fortunes blossomed with it. The emphasis remained on the classical catalog, but soon the company was recording music of every kind, from the Jazz Showcase series produced by John Hammond to show music.
In the 1950s, Seymour and Maynard had the courage to break with the entertainment industry and record blacklisted performers, including Paul Robeson and the Weavers. The 1955 Christmas concert by the Weavers at Carnegie Hall was so successful, that although they continued to expand the classical catalog, there was an ever increasing emphasis on folk and popular music.