More than 20 years after German reunification, the emblematic Universal-owned yellow label is finally being transferred from Hamburg to Berlin, it was announced today.
The move has been fiercely resisted by label diehards and was accomplished only after the removal of the universally unpopular Universal president of classical and jazz, Chris Roberts.
Contrary to heavy Hamburg rumours all week long, Universal has officially confirmed that DG will remain under the presidency of Roberts’s trusted placeman, Michael Lang. See also here.
So at least they are left with half a Lang, the other half having fled to Sony.
And here’s the corporate press release, hot off the machine:
Embargoed until October 14th, 12:45 pm (11:45 am London time)
Classical music leader Deutsche Grammophon relocates to Berlin
Berlin/Hamburg, 14 October 2010 – Deutsche Grammophon, the world’s leading classical music company, is moving from Hamburg to Berlin. This follows the earlier relocation of its parent company, Universal Music Germany, in 2002.
In future, Deutsche Grammophon will operate as an autonomous label from Universal Music’s German headquarters in the Osthafen district of Berlin. The move will take place in the summer of 2011. The news was announced today (14) by Frank Briegmann, President, Universal Music Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Deutsche Grammophon, and by Deutsche Grammophon President Michael Lang.
Frank Briegmann has been leading Universal Music Germany for the past six years, and in July 2010 added responsibility for Universal Music’s companies in Austria and Switzerland, and for the worldwide operations of Deutsche Grammophon.
“For more than a century of its remarkable history, the right balance between innovation and tradition has been one of the key factors in Deutsche Grammophon’s continued success”, said Mr. Briegmann. “The calibre of such artists as Anne-Sophie Mutter, Gustavo Dudamel, Hélène Grimaud and Hilary Hahn – as well as newly signed names such as Alice Sara Ott, Miloš Karadagli? and Mojca Erdmann – and their recordings will always be the company’s heart and soul.
“By bringing Deutsche Grammophon to Berlin, we are facilitating even closer cooperation within our business, and securing the future success of the most renowned and established classical label in the world. As he has for many years, Michael Lang will continue to be operationally responsible for Deutsche Grammophon, upholding the standards of excellence for which it is celebrated, and maintaining the continuity of our relationships with artists and business partners alike. Apart from that, this move strengthens Berlin as a centre of gravity for music, and particularly for classical music.”
Mr. Briegmann continued, “Target audiences are changing. Innovative strategies in marketing and distribution are becoming increasingly important and new types of artists require fresh thinking and action, for example, pop superstar Sting is accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra, star violinist David Garrett, whose roots are in classical music, releases ‘Rock Symphonies’, opera tenor Rolando Villazón newly interprets Mexican folk music, and Anna Netrebko becomes a household name beyond the traditional audience for classical music.”
Deutsche Grammophon was founded in Hanover in 1898 by brothers Emile and Joseph Berliner, making it the oldest point of origin of the Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company. In Hamburg, Deutsche Grammophon has been based for more than 50 years. The label is the unchallenged leader in classical music, with 80% of its revenue generated abroad, mostly in the US, Japan and France.
Deutsche Grammophon is known for an uncompromising attitude to quality and an innovative approach to marketing. Its roster has always featured the most celebrated and influential artists in classical music, among them: Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Rafal Blechacz, Enrico Caruso, Gustavo Dudamel, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elina Garanca, Hélène Grimaud, Hilary Hahn, Daniel Hope, Herbert von Karajan, Wilhelm Kempff, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Anna Netrebko, Maurizio Pollini, Thomas Quasthoff and Rolando Villazón.
Apart from its artists and music, Deutsche Grammophon can look back on a remarkable technological history. Co-founder Emile Berliner is regarded as one of the inventors of the gramophone and the gramophone record. Since that breakthrough, the company has continued to innovate: releasing the first double-sided record, producing the first complete recording of an orchestral work in 1913 (Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, played by the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted by Arthur Nikisch), recording only on magnetic tape from 1946, starting the first industrial CD production in 1982, releasing laser discs and becoming the first classical label to sell recordings through its own online web shop.