Mourning for a classical record chief

Mourning for a classical record chief


norman lebrecht

March 10, 2018

We hear that Roland Kommerell died on February 25 in Hamburg at the age of 86.


He was president of Decca from boomtime 1986 to the fateful year of 1996 when he was succeeded by Roger Lewis and Decca, along with other classical labels, went into tailspin.

Roland was responsible for authorising the Three Tenors extravaganza of 1990 and for the trailblazing Entartete Musik series which brought back composers who had been banned by the Nazis.

Roland’s uncle had been associated with the Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger and the bold Entartete series was, for his nephew, a form of personal reparation.

May he enjoy eternal rest.






  • YoYo Mama says:

    Isn’t it something how the remarkable achievements in the world are so often down to just certain individuals, and without them, the institutions collapse?

  • jean says:

    When will Entartete series be released as a box set? I was so young when this series was introduced and never had a chance of getting any…

    • erich says:

      A truly highly civilised and charismatic person. His replacement by that m*w*c*(fill-in the blanks ad libitum!) Lewis was a major blot on the industry landscape.

  • Michael Haas says:

    Without Roland Kommerell, the “Entartete Musik” project would never have happened – without the “Entartete Musik” project, I would never have been asked to take on the job of music curator at Vienna’s Jewish Museum, never have been asked to write “Forbidden Music” by Yale University Press, and I would not have been able to carry out the work we’re now doing at Vienna’s Centre. ( He was a very different man from the stereotypical recording executive. The industry is no longer the same as the one he knew, but he is definitely missed and mourned. He may have looked like an aging rocker to us working for the classical lables of PolyGram, but he was cultivated and educated far beyond most of our colleagues. His uncle was Max Kommerell, memeber of the Stefan George Circle and one-time confident to Martin Heidiger. If anyone understood the importance of the “Entartete Musik” series, it was Roland Kommerell.

  • Michael Haas says:

    sorry – brain slip: Martin Heidegger…..