Los Angeles, CA—January 13, 2016
Morton Manus, President of Alfred Music, passed away on January 9 after a battle with cancer, at his Los Angeles home. He was a devoted husband to his wife Iris, a loving father and grandfather, an innovative music publisher, a celebrated author, an inspiring mentor to his staff, and dedicated friend. Morty was a great man.
Born in New York to Russian immigrants Samuel and Anna in 1926, Morty proudly enlisted in the Air Force during WWII, received a business degree from The City College of New York, and joined his father at family business, Alfred Music in the late 1940s.
When Morty joined Alfred Music, there were four employees: Morty’s father Sam, a picker, a packer, and a bookkeeper. The important part of this is story is the bookkeeper; her name was Rose who had a daughter named Iris. Morty and Iris fell in love, and as they say, the rest is history. They were married for over 60 years.
Alfred Music began in New York’s Tin Pan Alley in 1922 and focused on mood music for silent films. Inspired by the need for quality music education products, Morty, a pianist, clarinetist, and guitarist, reinvented the company in the 1950s. He oversaw the development of an instructional series for accordion, followed by guitar, piano, and recorder. Morty is the author and editor of hundreds of titles in Alfred Music’s catalog, including both enormously popular series’ Alfred’s Basic Guitar Method and Alfred’s Basic Piano Library.
As Alfred Music outgrew its New York headquarters in the mid-1970s, Morty and Iris moved the company to Los Angeles. As time went by they split their time between New York and Los Angeles, and continued to have many close friends on both coasts.
The company continued to grow under Morty’s leadership. In 1988 Morty was joined by his son Ron, and his son Steven joined in 1992. The family business expanded into the world’s leading instructional music publisher with offices in Australia, Germany, Singapore and the UK. In 2005, Alfred Music purchased Warner Bros. Print Publications.
Morty received an honorary Doctorate of Music from VanderCook College of Music in July of 2008. Morty and Iris continued to be deeply committed to music education through supporting many music scholarships, competitions, and organizations.
Morty had many hobbies. He was an avid sports fan, rooting for the Lakers and Dodgers. He was also a keen investor who was skilled at stock charting and analysis. Among Morty’s other great accomplishments was climbing Mount Washington, NH on several occasions, telling his companions during the climb, “You’ll tell your grandchildren about this.”
Though terribly saddened by their loss, the Manus family is now focusing on celebrating his life and the bright light of his legacy. Generations of music makers will continue to experience the joy of making music thanks to his amazing life’s work. Morty and Iris recently summed up their love for music education and Alfred Music by saying, “working a lifetime with music and musicians was not always milk and honey, but it was as close to heaven on earth as we could get.”
Morty is survived by his wife Iris; his three sons, Steve and wife Sylvie, Scott, Ron and his partner Renée; and his three granddaughters, Alexandra, Samantha, and Melissandra.
In lieu of flowers, the Manus family has asked that any donations be sent to www.vh1savethemusic.org/donate or www.cancer.org