Britten’s publisher embraces diversity

Britten’s publisher embraces diversity


norman lebrecht

October 07, 2019

Statement from Faber Music:

Faber Music and Diversity

“Faber Music’s philosophy has always been to identify and support outstanding composing ability wherever it is to be found. We have become aware, however, that we need to do more to ensure both that we are hearing composers from backgrounds and ethnicities that might be different from those we have traditionally published and that those composers see Faber Music as a potential home. Over the coming weeks we will be developing specific strategies to turn that ambition into reality, including articulating a new policy and supporting the wider industry as it continues to address lack of diversity within classical music.”

Richard King, CEO Faber Music (October 2019)





  • Save The MET says:

    I’m involved with both important and lesser known composers from all walks of life in my business and have represented many of them to music publishers. Good music is good music and classical music publishers these days do not walk away from good music due to ethnicity or sexual orientation of the composer, because they can’t afford to do so. Racism, sexism and anti-sexual orientation bias no longer has a place even with the top publishers, like Music Sales and Boosey. (Both have swallowed many of the smaller publishing houses.) They will walk away if they think it is something they can’t sell and if the composer who happens not to be Caucasian, or straight decides to make it their issue of complaint, then it is on them and not the publisher. (Though I suppose there can always be a bad apple working in the business, it is really not the usual modus operandi here.) The music publishing business happens to be one of the most open businesses out there. They are in it for monetary success in a tough business environment.

    • john Borstlap says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice if they would be able to discern musical quality instead of mere populist appeal? The marketing strategy of waving diversifying flags does nothing to improve such capacities. The openness of the music publishing business is openness to monetary success which can be garanteed beforehand, without having to make assessments and sticking-out your neck.

    • C Porumbescu says:

      It would be pretty astonishing, indeed, if Faber Music – a company that was founded in order to promote the music of Benjamin Britten – had a problem with diversity of sexual orientation.

  • Dennis says:

    These endless rote paeans to “diversity and inclusion” these days are beyond nauseating. Focus on quality. If that result in “non-diverse” or “non-inclusive”, i.e. un-PC results, then so be it.

    • Allen says:

      Agree entirely. Unfortunately, inequality of outcome is taken as evidence of inequality of opportunity. There is no defence against such an accusation, that’s the problem.

  • udouble-sharp says:

    Gabriel Prokofiev must think his birthday’s come early this year? Absence of talent is no barrier to success.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The lack of sexual diversity, sure.

  • John says:

    If Faber wants to address lack of diversity, perhaps it could start by seeking out composers who were not privately educated, didn’t go to Oxbridge and are not part of the London mafia. They do exist, though looking at Faber’s catalogue you might struggle to believe it.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The reason for such exclusivity is that it is so much easier than taking your profession really seriously. But one should have some mercy with music publishers, because it has become almost impossible to understand what ‘quality’ means, or which new music would really contribute to the performance culture and because of its qualities and regular performances, would offer serious financial return for the publisher. One has to be a genius with super antennae for future success to be able to detect something that would be as rewarding as a Stravinsky, Strauss or Bartok. Trying to be a successful music publisher today is something like being an explorer trying to cut his way through an entirely uncharted jungle, armed with only a Swiss pocket knife.

  • SVM says:

    For decades, auditioning behind a screen has been widely accepted as a fair and artistically robust approach in recruiting orchestral players, which has proven successful in increasing diversity without compromising on artistic quality. Why have publishers (and others empowered to advance a composer’s career) not applied this principle of anonymous review, at least as a shortlisting method?

    Surely, the best way to assure quality and avoid unconscious bias is to select composers through review of *anonymised* scores, parts, and maybe recordings (I say “maybe” because it should be the notated outputs that count first and foremost in assessing a composer, and also because an obscure composer’s capacity to obtain good recordings of his/her works depends heavily on non-artistic factors, such as wealth and networking acumen).

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is very theoretical. Reading a traditionally-notated orchestral score is a skill which only experienced conductors are supposed to possess, to assess a score is even beyond them, let alone for publishing staff who mostly are not even professional musicians. And then, there are many contemporary scores which are not notated traditionally at all, which makes it impossible to have even a flimsy opinion. Because of all these difficulties, publishing houses monitor the extramusical factors which are more ‘concrete’, or at least offer some grip, however feeble. Performers often follow the same course.