- Lester Levy
(b nr Warsaw, Poland, Dec 25, 1899; d Atlantic City, NJ, Jan 27, 1977). American collector of and dealer in sheet music, born in Poland. He immigrated to the USA in 1906. For some 40 years until his retirement in 1965 he worked as a waiter in Philadelphia. While operating a small bookshop, from 1929 to 1931, he developed a passionate interest in early American popular sheet music; he eventually collected and distributed approximately 500,000 sheets of the late 18th to late 19th centuries. Much of the music was purchased by universities and municipal libraries, many of which relied on Dichter as altant—from 1942 to 1945 he served the Free Library of Philadelphia in this capacity. With Elliott Shapiro, a sheet-music publisher, he wrote Early American Sheet Music: its Lure and its Lore, 1768–1889 (1941, rev. 1977 as Handbook of Early American Sheet Music, 1768–1889), still regarded as the leading reference work of its kind. Under his own name or that of Musical Americana he issued several collections of sheet music and other important publications, including J.J. Fuld’s ...