About us

When Sophocles Papas was teaching classical guitar in Washington, D.C., in the 1920s, the lack of published guitar music led him to found the Columbia Music Company. Initially, many of the publications were Papas's own transcriptions for his students, but the range of composers and arrangers whose works were represented in the company's catalog soon grew.

In 1953 Papas published the Diatonic Major and Minor Scales (CO 127), which were fingered by his friend Andrés Segovia. Later that year Segovia’s Slur Exercises, Trills, and Chromatic Octaves (now revised and available as CO 361) came into print. Papas's own Method for the Classic Guitar (CO 300) soon followed, along with numerous other pieces and exercises. Smith's Theory Book for the Guitar (CO 359), by his daughter, Elisabeth Papas Smith, appeared in 1965. Today the company's catalog includes additional compositions and arrangements by Segovia, as well as works by Charlie Byrd, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, and a range of other musicians.

From its inception, the Columbia Music Company has been committed to supplying fine sheet music for the classical guitar at reasonable prices.

Over the years, two of the most active members of the Columbia Music Company’s Board of Directors were Elisabeth (Liz) Papas Smith, the only daughter of Sophocles Papas, and her husband Philip H. Smith, Jr. From the time that Phil and Elisabeth acquired the company in 1988, they significantly increased the catalog holdings and worked diligently to perpetuate the goals established by the company’s founder. Elisabeth also authored her father's biography, Sophocles Papas: The Guitar, His Life.

Thea E. Smith, first grandchild of Sophocles Papas and author of the novels She Let Herself Go and Me, Myself, and Her, took over as President of the company when Phil died in June 2006. Elisabeth then served as Music Consultant until her death in June 2013.

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