Happy 40 years of Hyperion

Happy 40 years of Hyperion


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2020

The world’s best boutique classical label has a big birthday today.

Here’s the official history:
On 1st October 1980 – 40 years ago to the day – an advertisement was placed in Gramophone Magazine.
‘This month sees the introduction of a new label devoted to the presentation of fine, varied, and interesting repertoire, engineered to the highest present-day standards, attractively presented and priced.
The first six releases are listed below, and further titles will be issued regularly. We will not specialise…except in good records – and the repertoire will cover all fields and periods, from ‘early’ music to the present day’
A66001 – Finzi and Stanford Clarinet Concertos with Thea King, The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Alun Francis (still available as CDH55101 after 40 years!)
A66002 20th century Guitar Music by Alice Artzt
A66003 Bushes and Briars and other English Folksongs with the tenor James Griffett and Timothy Walker on guitar
A66004 Mussorgsky Pictures at an exhibition – for organ – Arthur Wills on the organ of Ely Cathedral (produced by Simon Perry aged 19 who, on his journey to Ely along the M11 was given a fixed penalty for speeding in his mother’s two-tone MGB GT V8!)
A66012 Service High and Anthems Clear – Choir of Ely Cathedral directed by Arthur Wills (available on CDH88006)
A66016 The Piano music of Samuel Barber performed by Angela Brownridge. (available on CDH88016)

Hyperion was founded by Ted Perry in 1980 and succeeded by his son Simon Perry following his death in 2003.
Now, 40 years later, the label has close to 2,300 recordings in its catalogue and has won many, many awards.

I still have that Thea King first release on my shelves.



  • Augustine says:

    Hyperion is still the only label I know of that does not permit streaming on any music service – including Idagio and Primephonic. In 2020 that is amazing.

    • Tom says:

      They don’t have any significant web presence either. Hopefully we’ll see them celebrate 50 or 60.

    • Armchair Bard says:

      Oh, streaming schtreaming…

      Full Disclosure. I once managed to empty a goodly part of a pint over Ted in the Coal Hole after the Gramophone Awards. He could not have been nicer about it. Especially given I worked for ***.

  • Darrell says:

    Interesting to note that Hyperion is arguably one of the most relevant classical music labels not present on streaming services (Spotify and others.)

  • Steve says:

    Hyperion were available to stream on Qobuz a while ago (maybe 5+ years) but decided it wasn’t in their commercial interest to continue. As a consumer that’s a pity, and since ECM started streaming they’re the only label I miss being available.

    • Steven Jones says:

      The bottom line to this is that, if the streaming services paid a reasonable fee to the owners of the music they stream, Hyperion might well have been available to you. Having had two CDs available on streaming sites (one with a label), we have removed the one we own, as the royalty earnings for 3 years was a total of £3 (from which PayPal fees were deducted!).
      Tasmin Little (who is a very important and significant artist) has written of how little she has earned from the streaming of her music.

  • erich says:

    An amazing and enormously impressive achievement. All done without unseemly PR hype – and no crossovers! – and always putting the music first. Long may they thrive!

  • Paganono says:

    Hyperion proved that a label that puts music first can indeed thrive, and that first rate artists who for whatever reason don’t have worldwide performing careers can deliver superb recorded performances. Perry’s visionary business model paved the way to the future of the classical recording industry, leaving all the superstar-driven major labels in the dust.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    It is a splendid and imaginative label and I always enjoyed getting one of Hyperion’s releases for review. Quite apart from artists and repertoire, they also pay attention (or did pay attention back in my reviewing days; I assume they still do) to retaining informed writers of program notes and gave them the space they needed to make their points.

    However there are other wonderful smaller labels so “world’s best” seems like a very strong claim, quite apart from being pure opinion. Is BIS a boutique label, or is it too big? Is Harmonia Mundi/France, or is it too old and big? Mobile Fidelity? Is Albany still around? ESS.A.Y.? Just a few weeks ago we were talking about Dabringhaus & Grimm, certainly a boutique label to be praised highly. And the many historic reissue labels, if they are still around, (Testament, Music & Arts, Pearl, Biddulph) should they be, how can they be, compared to and ranked with labels that only release new recordings?

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Can we then settle for “one of the best”?

      One thing I have to say that Hyperion, and many of these labels do take attention to their fellow music lovers (don’t want to call them customers) seriously. Ted always answered my emails. And, in the past, so did Robert von Bahr, Fred Maroth, Danilo Prefumo, and even Klaus Heymann – and that’s on top of my head.

  • yujafan says:

    once had a job interview with the late, great Ted Perry – his passion shone through. All credit to the fab Hyperion team

  • Karl says:

    Great label. The Romantic Piano Concerto series is incredible. 81 volumes so far!

  • YB Schragadove says:

    …but all has not been rosy here… recall the Sawkins lawsuit against Hyperion for breach of copyright. Hyperion had the opportunity to settle the lawsuit but stubbornly refused, and suffered a huge financial setback. I also recall that a pianist had accused Hyperion of unfairly changing the terms of an agreement regarding recordings to their advantage.

    • christopher storey says:

      YB Schragadove : the Sawkins litigation did nothing for Sawkins , gave Hyperion a good deal of publicity, and as can be seen from current accounts made only a minor dent in financial terms !

  • Bruce says:

    Never heard a Hyperion release that wasn’t top-notch. (It’s been many years since I could say that about DG.)

  • carlos2bass says:

    I have truly enjoyed many of Hyperion,s cd,s on my collection, wish them many more years of success but without streaming or vinyl reissues these days seems hard for a label to keep in business.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    “A Feather on the Breath of God”: my first.

    Gugnin plays Shostakovich’s piano works: my latest.

    Hyperion has made life worth living for 40 years!

  • Herbie G says:

    Outstanding independent label: very imaginative wide-ranging repertoire, superb quality recordings and above all they don’t pay exorbitant prices for over-hyped ‘celebs’ but promote up-and-coming hugely talented performers and ensembles.
    Congratulations to Simon Perry and fond memories of Ted, whom I once heard speaking at a local gramophone club – a real one-off who had some CDs for sale afterwards; I bought one from his own hand – ‘Peacock Pie’ – British works for piano and strings. Yes, NL – the Stanford and Finzi clarinet concertos are on one of my shelves too but in vinyl; CDs were in their infancy at the time and I didn’t get my first player until 1982.
    Hyperion almost went down the pan in 2005 after an acrimonious lawsuit launched by Lionel Sawkins over copyright as an arranger of an edition of Delalande’s works that had been used for one of Hyperion’s recordings. The court found against Hyperion and they had to pay substantial damages. Whatever the merits of this case, Sawkins got his pound of flesh but remains an obscure academic; Hyperion goes from strength to strength.

  • RobK says:

    Perhaps Hyperion’s greatest achievement: the complete Schubert songs, overseen by Graham Johnson. Unsurpassed.

  • Chris Pollard says:

    Good to hear all this deserved praise for Ted and Simon, a book about their journey would be fascinating reading. A word also for Mike Spring, Ted’s ‘boy wonder’ for so many years and then instigator and director of the lauded piano concerto series. A great label, and great people

  • Let me add a very deeply felt congratulation for your 40 years of excellence. I remember talking to Ted before he opened shop (BIS was at that time 7 years old), and he often called me up for advice (some of which he luckily didn’t take). May you continue to prosper and serve Music!
    “Uncle” Robert (von Bahr, CEO, BIS Records and eClassical.com)

  • Edgar Self says:

    Beautiful cover art, Romantic Piano Concerto and Violin Concerto series, a champion stable of pianists in the Three Stevens — Coombs, Osborn, Hough — Hewitt, and Marc-Andre Hamelin ;consistent excellence; Schubert Lieder,Pfitzner series~
    Handsomely said, Mr. von Bahr.

  • B. Guerrero says:

    Congratulations to Hyperion. Their musical interests rarely line up with mine, but that’s of no importance. They truly are a class act and have the best CD covers of any label.