Philip Werlein, a Bavarian immigrant, started his first store in Vickburg, Mississippi, where he was teaching music, in 1842. He moved to New Orleans about a decade later and took over the store of W. T. Mayo, one of the leading piano dealers and music publishers in the city. Werlein’s store and the publishing business grew to be among the largest in the South. He was the first to publish the song “Dixie” in 1860, and he put out a number of other Confederate songs during the Civil War. Werlein’s music store was carried on by several generations of his descendants. In the 1880s, the company purchased a large building on Baronne Street that served as the music store as well as a concert hall. The store was later moved to Canal Street, where it held a prominent position for most of the twentieth century. Many New Orleans musicians purchased their instruments from Werlein’s, including Kid Ory, Fats Domino, and Louis Armstrong. 

Werlein’s advertisement

between 1869 and 1877; color lithograph

by Benedict Simon

The L. Kemper and Leila Moore Williams Founders Collection at The Historic New Orleans Collection, 1949.1.26

Werlein’s receipt

September 3, 1880

The Historic New Orleans Collection, gift of Roger Weill, 1989.21.4