Universal Edition's preparations for the
Mahler Centenary years (2010-2011)
Universal Edition's success story began in Vienna in 1901. Originally, the intention of its founding fathers was to publish a nucleus of classics as well as works of educational value for the Austrian market hitherto nourished by publishers in Leipzig.
In 1904, UE took over the catalogue of the publisher Aibl (originally established by Joseph Aibl, 1802-1834), thus acquiring the rights of numerous compositions by Richard Strauss and Max Reger. The arrival of Emil Herzka, some three years later, was instrumental in steering this Rolls Royce of publishers in the direction of contemporary repertoire. Contracts were signed with composers such as Béla Bartók, Frederick Delius and, the following year (1909), Arnold Schoenberg and Gustav Mahler. Anton Webern followed in 1910 and in 1917 Leos Janácek joined the ranks. Through Schoenberg's introduction, Alban Berg entered Universal Edition's pack of aces.
After World War II, UE expanded with Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti, Morton Feldman, and many more. Richard Rodney Bennett and Harrison Birtwistle enrolled, as have numerous others of future promise since.
This forward-looking company has also taken loving care of music's past. In collaboration with Schott, UE published the complete works of Claudio Monteverdi in the Wiener Urtext Edition series instigated in 1972. From Bach to Brahms, Berio and Berberian, there is a wealth of quality and masterpieces in their exceptional catalogue.
With the Mahler anniversary years of 2010 and 2011 looming, UE had the brilliant idea of dedicating a blog to the great man. It is the place to go for all information about Mahler performances and to find fascinating detail. There are video interviews of many important musicians who perform this masterful music: Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph Eschenbach, etc.
To quote UE's presentation paragraph,
Our new blog is where we are publishing all information regarding performances, festivals, interviews, new editions, recordings and reviews up to and during the two Mahler anniversary years 2010 and 2011, and where we are pointing to content about Gustav Mahler on the internet.
If you are planning an activity related to Gustav Mahler in the anniversary years (or in the run up), let us know, and we will publish it here.
This precious source is a must for all Mahler lovers and illustrates how a seemingly permanently honed cutting-edge company of publishers uses the techniques of today in their outreach. This is far from being the case with all publishing houses.
Who breaks the thread, the one who pulls, the one who holds on?
-- James Richardson, poet and professor (born 1950)
Luckily, there are publishers who ensure the thread does not break but that continuity, against all the odds, prevails intact. Of these, Universal Edition is one of the very few Greats.
Copyright © 24 September 2009
Jennifer I Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland