A music publisher goes out of business

A music publisher goes out of business


norman lebrecht

April 03, 2014

We hear that United Music Publishers Ltd. have notified their composers that the company is entering liquidation.

UMP was founded in London in 1932 to promote contemporary French music, particularly Messaien, Dutilleux and Duruflé. Over time, it took on a number of British composers, among them Simon Bainbridge, Diana Burrell, Edward Cowie, Michael Finnissy and Havergal Brian.

Their catalogues are orphaned by the sudden collapse. We have sought clarification from UMP.



  • ruben greenberg says:

    What sad news. Sometimes these publishing companies are bought up and the new owners don’t even make much of the music of the catalogue they took over available. This is quite disgraceful. If you want the name of one of these culprits: Boosey and Hawkes

    • B&H’s Strauss prices are also beyond the pale, particularly when you can get the same template published by Schott in Germany for less than half the price. Oh, did I mention their Britten prices? Similarly exhorbitant.

      • Halldor says:

        Theodore Presser made us pay up front, quibbled over bank charges, and belatedly despatched an orchestral set that was in disintegrating condition, had parts missing and did not match their published score. Boosey sent us an orchestral set made up of parts from three separate, non-matching editions of the same work, some of them illegible photocopies. Discount? Don’t even think about it. Could go on, and on, and on…

  • I have no idea what brought about the impending demise of UMP but cannot help wondering whether the widespread and blatant internet piracy that afflicts all music publishers to greater or lesser extent (i.e. the illicit uploading / downloading of material that is under composers’ and or publishers’ copyright) might have been a contributory factor.

  • My brother was the (now redundant) Trade Manager at UMP so I have a little inside knowledge…

    Their rather swift demise was brought about by the sale of the Alphonse Leduc catalogue to Music Sales. Not only were Leduc one of UMP’s biggest catalogues, but they also part-owned the company.

    Needless to say there has been much anger and sadness and the whole sorry situation.

    • Marilyn Adotey says:

      Hello Rachel,
      This is very sad news indeed.
      I have belatedly only heard now of the sad unfortunate demise of UMP!!

      I worked there along with Daniel your brother from 1990- 1994 as Accounts Assistant.

      A shame to hear that a part of my work history is no longer.

      Please give me regards to Daniel from Marilyn.

  • ….. and yet, the error prone Kalmus survives.

    • If you want a seriously error-prone company, try the abysmal Choudens. Antiquated script, mistakes never corrected from one edition to another. Loathsome.

      • Will Duffay says:

        …and part of the Music Sales empire.

        My recollection of those French publishers – Salabert is another – is of incredibly high prices and sub-Soviet paper quality. I don’t expect to pay that much for toilet paper, even if it does have Debussy printed on it.

        • M.A. Steinberger says:

          VERY well put!

        • That pretty much sums it up. I remember Jean-Yves Ossonce telling me about a meeting he had with the top man at Choudens, who proudly presented him with a piano score of the new edition of Werther. ‘Look at these wonderful new pictures we’ve found for the introduction’ etc. Ossonce, who knows the score extremely well, opened the piano score and immediately went to places he knew contained misprints in the previous edition. Not one had been corrected. ‘You’ve decided to keep all the mistakes, though’, he replied.

  • I used to work for a print music store, and I am all too familiar with the fallout from a publisher closing its doors. Months, even years after, musicians are still looking for these scores that are still tied up with the defunct publisher, and there is no way to get a hold of it legally. Unfortunately many resort to photocopies of someone else’s score.

    (This article was mentioned in the weekly music news digest on MusicallyNotable.Blogspot.com)

  • thanks for sharing, i can bookmark this post

  • david k cave says:

    How sad. Have only just 7 years after the event. I remember visiting their showroom in Marylebone (when the Internet wasn’t even a twinkle in anybody’s eye) where they had good stocks of all French composers, and buying some Poulenc for my father.