Over 25 years, he published 157 operas by 64 composers

Over 25 years, he published 157 operas by 64 composers


norman lebrecht

November 02, 2016

Fascinating snippet by Michael Haas from the memoirs of Hans Heinsheimer, one of the livewires of the golden era of the modernist music business.

Heinsheimer offers the following statistic: over the next 25 years, UE took on 157 operas from 64 composers, along with 32 ballets from 19 composers from across the world. Each of these works required piano reductions which soon became the principal employment of many would-be composers, including a number who were already making a name for themselves: Alban Berg and Anton von Webern, who arranged piano reductions of operas by Othmar Schoeck, Rudolf Wagner-Regeny and Alfred Casella. Following this, the score and all parts needed to be copied and engraved. It was becoming a major industry employing a number of musicians.



Read the full story here.


  • John Borstlap says:

    An echo of the times when contemporary music was still part of the central performance culture, and when the Schoenberg type of music was merely one of the many stilistic possibilities, i.e. before it had taken-on an ideological dominance.

    The memoirs of UE director Ernst Roth are equally interesting, and can be found (complete) on internet:


    Roth dealt directly with composers like Strauss, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Szymanowski etc. and warned against the ideas of atonalism, that it would destroy the fragile relationship between composer and audiences.

  • James Alexander says:

    Always grateful to Michael Haas for bringing more wonderful history to our attention! Bravo!

    • John Borstlap says:

      Agreed…. and much of it has also been suppressed by postwar historiography, influenced by modernist ideology. For instance, someone like Walter Braunfels was an excellent composer à la Richard Strauss, but milder and more consistent, who first was suppressed by the nazis in the thirties, and when he tried to make a new start after the war, then by the ‘avantgarde’ who condemned such music to the attic of grandma’s hobbies. But when his works began to be dug out, they appeared to be great music.

      20C music history was, in reality, very different from what the conventional books suggest.

  • David Osborne says:

    What a wonderful written, brilliantly coloured portrait of a lost world. One of the best things I’ve read in years.

    • David Osborne says:

      And yet, this brilliant read has drawn 3 comments whereas the appalling Symphoniacs attracted 80+.

      • John Borstlap says:

        …. because in the interbellum performers did not crawl in bed together to be photographed half-naked. Indeed that article is fascinating…. describing a pluralism that may appear again at some stage. The interbellum pluralism was, in general, of quite a high artistic level, as compared with the diversity of today. The reason is that those composers all had a thorough grounding in traditional craft, which did not inhibit them to embark upon quite different trajectories.

        Surprisingly, in the article the UE director Ernst Roth is not mentioned.