Help
Skip to main content

About Presto Music

Based in Royal Leamington Spa, UK, Presto Music is the UK’s leading ecommerce site for classical and jazz recordings (CDs, DVDs, high quality downloads and vinyl), printed music, music books and musical instruments. Founded in 1986 as a small high street shop, the Presto Music website was started in 2001 and has grown into one of the most significant online sites for music products in the world.

With over 160,000 classical recordings, over 70,000 jazz recordings, over 850,000 sheet music titles, more than 60,000 music books and over 40,000 musical instruments to browse and purchase online (of which tens of thousands are in stock and available for immediate dispatch), Presto offers an extensive catalogue to suit musicians and music-lovers, accepting payment in 15 different currencies and shipping to over 200 countries worldwide.

Alongside its wide-ranging catalogue, decades of experience, excellent customer service and staff with expert classical music knowledge, Presto prides itself on outstanding data and unique editorial content, ranging from reviews of new products to exclusive interviews with artists and composers, researched and written by the in-house editorial team.Living Wage Employer Good Business Charter

Presto Music is proud to be a Living Wage employer and accredited by the Good Business Charter.

Our story

1986

Ken and Diana Ross, the founders of Presto Music, with their son Tony who was the shop manager.

Ken and Diana Ross, two well-known names on the Leamington music scene, open Presto Music in Portland Street: their son Tony works as the shop manager.

Initially the shop sells only sheet music, then quite soon after stringed and wind instruments, and a little later, in the basement, cassettes as well. CDs were the last addition.

1990s

During this period the CD part of the shop moves to separate premises a few doors up. The Instrument and Sheet Music part remains Presto Music and the CD section becomes Presto Classical.

Presto Classical logo
Presto Music logo

2001

Threatened with closure, local businessman and classical music lover Maurice Millward purchases Presto Classical, at that point just a CD shop in Portland Street, as the Sheet Music and Instrument sides of the business closed the previous year.

Immediately seeing the potential of the internet for future sales, Maurice recruits his friend, IT professional and clarinet player David Ferrer and his son Rob, a Computer Science student at the University of York, to build a website.

A screenshot of the Presto Classical website from 2001

The website goes live in August 2001, featuring the 500 Rosette Winners in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs Yearbook.

Cover of the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs Yearbook 2000 to 2001

2001

4 August: First online order received from a gentleman living near Crewe: Weber Symphonies 1 & 2 on Naxos, and Suk String Quartets on CRD.

Cover of Weber: Symphonies Numbers 1 and 2, Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra
Cover of Josef Suk - The Works for String Quartet, the Suk Quartet

11 September: Maurice appoints a young Chris O'Reilly, a University of Birmingham music graduate, then working at Kensington Chimes, as the Manager of the business.

I thought he was too young, but he knew about music so I took him, Millward says.

The company receives a further 7 online orders between August and the end of 2001 - not an epic start!

Maurice Millward and Chris O'Reilly, pictured in what was then Presto's packing department

2002

The website begins allowing international orders, and received its first non-UK order from a lady in Los Angeles.

The shop moves to 11 Park Street, and begins selling sheet music, instruments and accessories, as well as offering hire and repair services.

The Presto Classical shop front in Park Street.

2004

Presto Music begins using 100% Green Energy.

This certifies that Presto Classical, 10 to 18 Park Street, Leamington Spa, is reducing carbon emissions by using 100% green electricity.

2005

Presto hires the first part-time despatcher, Jim Goodman, responsible for picking and packing the website orders.

2006

Website turnover surpasses the turnover in the shop.

A screenshot of the Presto Classical website from 2006.

2007

The shop moves from number 11 to number 7 Park Street, acquiring more space upstairs for web orders and more space downstairs to add digital pianos to the range of instruments.

Cover of Debussy, Complete Works for Piano, Volume 1; Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.

This year Presto Music also launches a weekly newsletter, featuring a Recording of the Week/opinion-piece on the industry by Chris O'Reilly, the first one being on Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's first Debussy recording on Chandos.

2010

Maurice turns the business into a limited company.

The website begins offering Sheet Music, now totalling over 800,000 titles - the first purchase was from a customer in Hong Kong ordering a selection of Lutosławski scores.

Presto Sheet Music logo.

The area above the shop becomes too small to manage web orders, then averaging 4500 per week: the company takes on 10-18 Park Street for warehousing.

Presto Music joins Facebook: back then Facebook encouraged the use of the third person!

Presto Classical's first Facebook post. Presto Classical are enjoying Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne's Schubert Duos this week; two fabulous Schubertians at the height of their powers.

2011

Cover of Schumann Cello Concerto, Dvořák Cello Concerto; Rostropovich.

Launch of download offerings - the first customer was a gentleman in Florida who purchased a recording of Rostropovich playing the Dvořák Cello Concerto (a live recording from the Proms in 1968, made the same day that Soviet tanks rolled into Prague).

Presto Music joins Twitter.

The first tweet from Presto Classical. We're loving this new Messiah recording from Huddersfield due out on Monday. Robust choral singing and great soloists!

2012

Presto receives its 250,000th customer order.

Screenshot of the website homepage from 2012.

2013

Presto takes on a new IT office at 6 Park Street, to allow for the expansion of the IT team beyond David and Rob Ferrer to a team of 5, which allows for continuing improvement to the rapidly-growing website.

Presto wins Best Classical Music Instrument Shop at the Music Industries Association annual awards.

In the shop, Chris O'Reilly shows off the award, while behind him 6 members of staff display various instruments.

2014

Hi-Resolution downloads made available, and the Manufacture on Demand service launches with the 50 CDs of the Penguin Rosette Collection.

Logos for the high resolution and manufacture on demand products.

Countertenor Iestyn Davies becomes Presto's first interviewee, discussing his new recording of Dowland lute songs on Hyperion with David Smith from the digital/editorial team.

Presto Classical Recordings of the Year logo

The inaugural Presto Music Awards are announced in December, with winners including Martha Argerich & Daniel Barenboim, Benjamin Grosvenor, Franco Fagioli and Sir Colin Davis.

Dances; Benjamin Grosvenor.
Mozart, Schubert, Stravinsky; piano duos; Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim.

2016

Graham Southern.

Graham Southern (formerly of EMI and Universal Music) joins Presto as Chief Operating Officer.

2017

Maurice, now in his late eighties, exits the company to enjoy his retirement.

10 October: the redesigned website is launched. The new site uses more modern technologies which will enable growth and improved features such as a better listing of download availability, and will be more usable on tablet and mobile devices.

Presto receives its 1,000,000th customer order.

Screenshot of the website homepage from 2017.

2018

The warehouse moves to Trident Business Park in Warwick, and editorial and IT team relocate to 10-18 Park Street.

The Presto Music warehouse building.

September: the books department launches, offering over 60,000 music related books. The first purchase is Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World.

Matt Groom (formerly of RSK) joins Presto shortly afterwards to head up jazz editorial. The Jazz department launches in December, now offering over 70,000 jazz recordings. The first purchase is two Erroll Garner recordings: The Complete Concert by the Sea, and Yesterdays.

Presto Books logo
Presto Jazz logo

2018

October: Alex Preston folds his woodwind repairs business into Presto Music, which now also offers servicing for brass and strings.

Alex Preston in the workshop above Presto's shop, repairing a saxophone held in a support on the workbench in front of him.

2020

A tube of Rico cork grease.

October: the Instruments and Accessories department launches, totalling 40,000 items for the department and more than 1 million for Presto Music in total. The first order is for Rico Cork Grease.

Presto Instruments and Accessories department logo

October: Presto Music joins Instagram.

Presto Music's first Instagram post. Classical Recording of the Week - Haydn, Die Schöpfung - Giovanni Antonini. The Italian conductor makes a slight detour from his project to record all of Haydn's symphonies with an incisive, characterful account of the Creation oratorio.

2021

On the 35th anniversary of the company, and the 20th anniversary of the website, a new brand is launched, with a fresh logo and a renewed corporate identity.

The new redesigned Presto Music logo.

A Presto app is also introduced to enable offline listening as well as new innovative features for the website including My Library.

A screenshot showing the Presto app album screen on an iPhone.