Heinsheimer’s Hidden History

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Since posting this article on Heinsheimer, Univeral Edition has now published his history of their publishing house since its founding in 1901 to the death of Emil Hertzka and Austria’s annexation in 1938. It’s a high quality, beautifully finished annotated edition with commentary by Christopher Hailey and an indispensable account of music during the first forty years of the 20th century. The potential downside is that it’s only available in German, so either learn German or prepare to be entertained and confused in equal measure by Google translate. Anyone interested in this period  simply cannot afford to be without it. You can order it here.


Just consider for a moment, the following list of composers: Béla Bartók, Alban Berg, Max Brand, Walter Braunfels, Alfredo Casella, Hann Eisler, Hans Gál, Berthold Goldschmidt, Wilhelm Grosz, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Joseph Matthias Hauer, Leoš Janácek, Zoltán Kodály, Erich Korngold, Ernst Krenek, Gustav Mahler, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Frank Martin, Bohuslav Martinů, Joseph Marx, Olivier Messiaen, Darius Milhaud, Sergei Prokofiev, Karol Rathaus, Franz Schmidt, Arnold Schoenberg, Dimitri Shostakovich, Franz Schreker, Richard Strauss, Karol Szymanowski, Jenö Takács, Anton Webern, Kurt Weill, Egon Wellesz and Alexander Zemlinsky. The first question would be, where’s Stravinsky? The second would be, what do all of these composers who so defined the first half of the 20th century have in common? The answer would be they were all published by Universal Edition in Vienna.

Jubiläumsfeier der Wiener Philharmoniker

Gala of the Vienna Philharmonic in the Main Hall of the Musikverein: etching after a painting by August Mandlick, 24th April 1910

One of the most remarkable documents to have fallen into my hands of late comes thanks to Frances Heinsheimer-Wainwright, daughter of the music publisher Hans Heinsheimer. We’ll return to Hans Heinsheimer in a future posting, but the document she passed on was an unfinished history of Universal Editions (shortened to UE), only taken up to the death of UE’s owner and director Emil Hertzka in 1932. The history of UE was started by her father in 1976 in America, yet written in German and only comes to a tantalising 60-odd pages. It was intended for publication during UE’s 75th anniversary year. With Mrs Wainwright’s permission, I passed it on to UE’s present management who have agreed to publish it and even requested that I write a forward. To my great disappointment, it’s to be available only in German, but I’ll try and highlight for English readers some of his more salient points, facts and issues. If you read German, I absolutely recommend that you purchase it upon publication. Even given its brevity, it must count as one of the important eye-witness accounts of music during the pre-Hitler years.

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The Young Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya and Bert Brecht

There are odd lacunas that would clearly have been covered in the course of completion. It’s strange that Kurt Weill is nearly absent giving his financial significance and huge artistic input, but the story of Weill and UE is a book in itself. Nils Grosch has published the correspondence between Heinsheimer and Weill and this alone looks imposing. I can only assume that the absence of Weill is due to the mountain of material that Heinsheimer still needed to sort out. He mentions Weill and his successes, but these are individual throw-away sentences scattered here and there across the entire manuscript.


3 popular composers during the Nazi years: Reznicek, Marx and Kienzl who along with R. Strauss and Franz Schmidt remained in the UE catalogue after 1933

I’ve left out huge tracts of material – his chapters on Janáček for example or Bartók. He writes extensively on a number of other UE composers who are not relevant to the “Forbidden Music” blog. It seems strange that a publisher that was so very Jewish and progressive could also find space for such traditional stalwarts as Joseph Marx and Franz Schmidt, neither of whom came up smelling of roses after 1945, though Schmidt did not survive long enough to experience the full force of Nazi rule. His support of Hitler was perhaps misjudged as pan-German Romanticism rather than phobic anti-Semitism. Yet the history of UE, even in this very abbreviated, unedited version underlines again and again, the very plurality that existed pre-Hitler. Perhaps the loss of this plurality was in fact the greatest loss of all. And as can be surmised from a mere glance of the above list, following the Nazi take over in 1933, the only Austro-German composers permitted for performance were Joseph Marx, Franz Schmidt and Richard Strauss.


Josef Matthias Hauer 1883-1959

Joseph Matthias Hauer was tolerated, if not entirely accepted and non-Jewish composers such as Anton Webern, Alban Berg and Ernst Krenek were barred as “Cultural Bolsheviks”, a handy portmanteau for any composing non-Jews the Nazis still didn’t like. Paul Hindemith was another notorious non-Jewish “cultural Bolshevik”, though he, along with Ernst Toch, was published by UE’s arch rival Schott & Sons in Mainz. After 1938, UE would be completely “Aryanised” and over the years, many of its most famous names would migrate to other publishers or disappear altogether. Yet Heinsheimer informs us as no other of what a miracle this publishing house was. Of all European publishers it was “the new kid on the block” and only founded in 1901. Under the circumstances, it seems incredible that it would come to dominate new music to such a degree during a few, relatively short decades.

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Franz Schreker teaching students in Berlin

Anyone who has researched any one of the above composers will have encountered their correspondence with either Emil Hertzka or Hans Heinsheimer or both. To the generation of Franz Schreker and Arnold Schoenberg, Heinsheimer was clearly seen as a ghastly upstart, yet to his contemporaries,  such as everyone who was a pupil of Franz Schreker, he was a brilliant facilitator and possessed an infallible nose for where a work would find the greatest resonance with public and press. This instinct would not only make the publishing house incredibly wealthy, it resulted in a generation of younger composer enjoying success and wealth they could never have otherwise dreamt of.

Clip art: Hurrah!

Young people having a good time in 1920s Berlin

My initial encounters with Heinsheimer were in the preparation for a number of exhibitions at Vienna’s Jewish Museum. His correspondence with Franz Schreker verged nearly on the disrespectful and it was fascinating to see how a younger generation of ambitious young composers would turn impudently away from their mentors and musical fathers. Heinsheimer seemed to delight in the discomfort of the UE’s “grand old men” as he egged on Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler to put a musical two fingers up to the idea of “l’art pour l’art”. To them, it was “terribly pre-Sarajevo!” By the 1920s, they had edged out Strauss and by the mid-20s, they succeeded in pushing Franz Schreker into the margins, formerly the most performed living German language composer, and once considered by the great and good as the only successor to the hallowed realms of Richard Wagner. Mention Richard Wagner to Eisler, Weill, Grosz, Brand and Krenek and one would be met with howls of laughter – who on earth would even wish to be “successor” to that sanctimonious old anti-Semite??!!? Heinsheimer encouraged their mischief and in so doing, initiated one of music’s most exciting ages.


The Hidden Terror written for publication in Leipzig in 1930 and later in “Anbruch”

But there was a far more serious side of Heinsheimer that one encounters in his January 1931 article for Anbruch, Der geheime Terror – Blick ins Dritte Reich (The Hidden Terror – a Glimpse into the Third Reich). Nowhere have I found such prescience as to what to expect. He weaves the facts as he finds them, and as early as 1931, they were already causing UE problems. The Döblin/Rathaus partnership was banned in Munich, the film version of All Quiet on the Western Front had met with riotous protests in Berlin and Vienna; Weill and Brecht were suffering nationalist opprobrium;  Prague was banning everything in German and Germany and Austria responded by banning anything in Czech. In any case, the Federal State of Thüringen had elected a Nazi government three years before Hitler’s arrival at the Reichstag, and it showed in the opera planning of Weimar and Jena. Heinsheimer was a clever weather watcher, but his barometer was UE’s catalogue and probably, it offered the most accurate forecast of popular feeling and government policy to be found.


The special Franz Schreker 50th Birthday edition of Anbruch from 1928

I can’t pretend to capture Heinsheimer’s humour and cheerful good nature that seeps through every page. The youthful cheekiness in correspondence with Schreker does not reflect in these pages written fifty years later, here written without the slightest hint of disrespect. Nor does he admit that he thought the old man past his “sell by” date before Schreker keeled over dead in 1934 at the age of 55. Yet the gloss he inevitably intended as a Jubilee publication of the inhouse magazine Anbruch cannot be thought of as disingenuous and uncritical. His upbeat assessment of life and the people he worked with does not disguise his occasional doubts and scepticism.


Location of  UE in Vienna’s Musikverein, the building to right in this photo with its office windows facing

UE was located where it remains today: in the mezzanine of Vienna’s Musikverein building. He recalls Hertzka as his boss and mentor and mentions a bell that summoned him to his office that even in these days still in the shadow of the Habsburgs’, he called “his master’s voice”.  Hertzka was bearded, vegetarian, unmusical and an intensely ascetic wearer of sandals. According to Heinsheimer, he was completely tone-deaf, but compensated by having a sharp eye and an infallible sense of quality and judgement of character. His hits far outweighed his misses despite barely recognising one clef from another.


One of the early publishing companies that went in with Weinberger to form UE

Heinsheimer reminds us that UE did not evolve through generations of the same family, but was the result of Joseph Weinberger striking a consortium deal with the Länderbank in 1901 that would result in an Austrian “Universal” edition of the classics: Clementi Sonatinas (held by the Länderbank in a safe), Haydn Sonatas, Beethoven, etc. etc. but also Brucker’s sysmphonies and Te Deum in four handed piano editions. Weinberger was able to push various “albums” of work taken from collections held by his own publishing house. The idea was to get into the paper business and print lots and lots of classics in the newest “Universal” editions. Among the twenty-five shareholders were three additional music publishers: Herzmansky, Doblinger and Robitschek. The principal shares were held by two banks: Schoeller and the afore mentioned Länderbank, with the largest private investor being a busy-body named Joseph Simon who may have bothered the executives at UE, but was responsible for bringing in the 22 year old Heinsheimer. Nevertheless, producing mountains of paper in order to publish the classics went badly as Peters and Breitkopf simply offered too much competition. It was decided that UE would have to embark on the publication of new works so that it too could earn from performance rights. It was clear that if rights could be protected, income would be generated not just by retaining exclusivity in the production of musical scores, but would increase though performances and the new media of recording and broadcast.


Richard Strauss with wife Pauline and son Franz 1910

As ever, Richard Strauss was busy setting up similar protections in 1901 for German composers, whereas in Austria, it was the indefatigable and far-sighted Joseph Weinberger who set up the AKM (Autoren, Komponisten und Musikverlage/Authors, Composers and Music Publishers) to manage all performance, broadcast and recording rights. It was a shock when restaurants, cabaret theatres, music halls, park orchestras, palm court bands etc. suddenly realised that they not only had to pay for the music, but also pay a royalty every time they performed a work that was registered with the AKM.


Painting of Emil Hertzka

UE still showed little sign of growth until acquiring Munich’s Aibl publishing house in 1905, overnight becoming the proud owner of Strauss’s tone poems; Wolf-Ferrari,  a smattering of Max Reger and the still popular Poet and Peasant Overture along with other works by Franz von Suppé. UE had continued to suffer losses from 1903 and with the success of Weinberger’s own publishing house which controlled the works of Johann Strauss along with the younger generation of Millöcker, Heuberger, Lehár, Fall and Edmund Eysler, not to mention his position as head of the AKM, it was decided UE would have to be cut loose. Weinberger was only too happy to allow a particularly pushy 38 year old employee named Emil Hertzka to take it on, expecting its 900,000 Crowns worth of debt to send it down the drain sooner rather than later.


Schenker’s edition of CPE Bach

Hertzka came away with a catalogue of fusty classics with the Aibl catalogue representing the entirety of UE’s living composers. Oddly, one of the most highly valued items was Heinrich Schenker’s edition of piano sonatas by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach with an extended essay on ornamentation that went beyond CPE Bach, also covering the piano works of Haydn and Beethoven. Any other living composers were hidden away as “arrangers” or “editors”, including one “A. Schoenberg”, responsible for the piano reduction of The Barber of Seville; The Weapon Smith and Rosamunde.

Wellesz Kaasgraben villa

The Kaasgraben district of Vienna, showing the Josef Hoffmann Villas

The Hertzkas were originally from Austerlitz, though they moved to Budapest where Emil was born in 1869. Heinsheimer tells us that his German was typical of the intellectual circles in Vienna’s leafy Döbling with the only trace of a Hungarian education coming to the fore when he counted. He was one of the first to move to the famous artists’ colony in Kaasgraben where the architect and chief designer of the Wienerwerkstätte (Vienna’s answer to Britain’s Arts and Crafts’ Movement) had designed a number of modernist villas. Egon Wellesz and Alexander Zemlinsky would soon join him as would the writer Jakob Wassermann and the director of Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Hugo Botstiber. Hertzka’s wife Yella was an active member of Vienna’s famous Peace Movement, led by Bertha von Suttner. Sandal wearing vegetarian, bearded peacenik with a progressive worldview gives us an early 20th century variant of a type who would be mercilessly caricatured and much abused during the latter half of the century.


Max Oppenheimer’s painting of Gustav Mahler and the Vienna Philharmonic, 1935

Shareholders were kept at bay for a few years while Hertzka encouraged them with news that calls for further investment were not as high as in previous years, but until 1909, the house stood on very shaky ground. It was not until Gustav Mahler handed the rights of his 8th Symphony to UE that prospects would change for the better. It was the first independently undertaken contract with a major contemporary composer and as Heinsheimer points out, how appropriate that the work in question kicks off with the words “Veni Creator Spiritus”. The contracts with Reger, Strauss and Wolf-Ferrari were only acquisitions following the purchase of their previous publisher. None of Aibl’s composers would approach UE again for subsequent works. Indeed, Mahler was so pleased with the work of UE that he not only placed all of his following works with the publisher, but retroactively changed all works previously published by  E.v. Waldheim, Jos. Eberle & Co. to UE. This included the first four symphonies, the Wunderhorn Songs. His Fifth, Sixth and Seventh symphonies were, however, published by three different German publishers: Peters; Kant and Bote & Bock respectively. For this reason, his agreement for the Eighth was signed with Strauss’s GDT (Genossenschaft deutscher Tonsetzer) in Berlin rather than Weinberger’s AKM. Why Mahler would turn to such a young and relatively untried publishing house remains a bit of a mystery, though Heinsheimer points out that Bruno Walter and J.V. von Wöss had previously produced pocket scores and four handed piano versions of the symphonies with which Mahler was inordinately pleased.

Schneemann caricature circa 1910

Caricature of Erich Wolfgang Korngold 1910 outside of the Imperial Opera as ‘The Snowman’

I must repeat that if you read German, please acquire Heinsheimer’s history, as I do not have the space to recount his many anecdotes or relay his irrepressible wit. It was a touch cruel to write that after “striding with giants”, meaning Mahler, the next UE acquisition of note was a “bit of a dwarf”. He was referring to Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s pantomime The Snowman, which opened at the Imperial Opera only three weeks following the Munich premiere of Mahler’s Eighth. In fact UE already had a relationship with Korngold and published his piano sonata and in 1908, the Piano Trio op. 1. Presumably the Korngolds came to UE on the recommendation of Mahler, though Heinsheimer does not mention this. More interesting is comparing his version of events surrounding Korngold’s The Snowman, with what Julius Korngold, the notoriously conservative critic in Austria’s most influential paper of the day writes. Heinsheimer quotes the Weingartner version taken from Almanach der Musikwelt 1914/15, in which he confirms Julius demanding that under no circumstance was he to allow a performance of The Snowman at the Imperial Opera and was furious that the first he knew of the decision was the arrival of the contract from UE.

Family 1911 (HK)

The Korngold Family with a 14 year old Erich

Julius Korngold was a tireless writer of threats, entreaties and general epistolary temper tantrums. The UE archive apparently has a thick file full of Julius’s “Mr Angry” letters that pulsated with passive and more commonly, active aggression, mostly written under the guise of “protecting” his son. He thunders in letters that UE hasn’t the slightest clue as to how to sell an opera, ballet or indeed, any work intended for the theatre. He goes on to send the names and addresses of important contacts and critics that UE should have contacted but didn’t. He makes Julius Korngold sound totally unhinged before confessing that Julius was in fact, absolutely right: “It’s impossible to leave out the account of how UE returned as happy as the Snow King following the success of Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand, only to be blasted to bits by Korngold’s Snow Cannon.”  He then cruelly goes on to add that “it’s often easier getting on with the gods than with the Nibelungs”. Ouch!


Alexander Zemlinsky in 1910

Julius’s version doesn’t vary much except that he informs us that he was suspicious of UE from the very beginning as publisher of Vienna’s “most abrasive modernists”. Yet as Heimsheimer makes clear, at this point, UE didn’t even have a contract with Korngold’s teacher Zemlinsky, let alone Schoenberg, (though this was soon to follow!) The only modern composer the house had contracted at this point was Gustav Mahler, who was one of Julius’s closest associates. Schreker was still a relatively unknown quantity and not yet perceived as a threat to Erich’s position. After the quite literal melt-down of Korngold’s Snowman, Julius’s animosity towards UE and its policies remained relentless and came to cost the house dear. Korngold’s op. 2 Piano Sonata was already with the Strecker brothers of Schott in Mainz.


Caricature of Julius “helping himself” as father of Erich

Lost to time was a satirical magazine intended for publication sometime in 1932 or even perhaps as early as 1931. It was meant to be “pay-back” to Julius Korngold for his untiring fight against new music. Either the UE underestimated the power of Korngold or the duplicity of their secret publisher. The magazine was withdrawn, calls left unreturned and the many caricatures and cartoons of Julius remain lost to posterity. Nevertheless, Heinsheimer mentions later in his UE history that Julius was right: the house had no process for disseminating material to opera houses and theatres. To address this perilous drawback, Hertzka would eventually engage Heinsheimer though by 1923, it was far too late to have helped mend matters between UE and the Korngolds.


Zemlinsky, Schoenberg and Schreker in Prague 1912

But Mahler was not the only reason 1909 was important for UE. Indeed, a more profitable composer was signed around the same time, though today, he’s only just starting to take his place in the pantheon of 20th Century Greats: Franz Schreker. Heinsheimer is staggered by Hertzka’s determination and drops the slight hint of doubt in his signing Schreker to a ten-year “priority” contract, allowing UE first option on any work. As if this weren’t enough, UE also signed the above mentioned “A. Schoenberg” meaning Mahler, Schreker and Schoenberg were all signed to UE between June 7th and October 6th, 1909. It was a period of only sixteen weeks that would change the fortunes of the company. Not only would Schreker and Schoenberg prove to be important investments, they brought with them a circle of modernists as pupils and disciples who would represent the unique musical plurality of Europe’s inter-war years.

Arnold Schoenberg 1905, the year he started teaching Egon Wellesz

Arnold Schoenberg 1905

Heinsheimer offers a few remarks on the Schoenberg arrangement: it was similar to Schreker’s with the same ten year priority contract, but held a number of infinitesimal sub-clauses, even one determining the design of the title page. Against this, Heinsheimer is surprised at the relatively modest amount of money paid to Schoenberg: a mere 500 Crowns which brought the publishers his still irreplaceable book on Harmony, Gurrelieder, Piano Pieces op. 19, Herzgewächse, Pierrot Lunaire, Die Glückliche Hand and the Four Orchestral Songs op. 22.   Heinsheimer goes on to write that “more interesting in Schoenberg’s never-ending battle against windmills and dragons was his second contract with UE, signed the day after the first in which he consigns the copyright of his unpublished works to UE – an impressive eleven works including Pelleas und Melisande, The Chamber Symphony op. 9; Friede auf Erden; Piano Pieces op. 11, Erwartung, the Second Quartet and his Five Pieces for Orchestra.(it would be later agreed that both Friede auf Erden and the Five Pieces for Orchestra Pieces would go to different publishers)


Portrait of Schoenberg by Richard Gerstl

In fact, Schoenberg had already agreed a contract with Berlin publisher Dreililien owned by Max Marschalk which had apparently gone nowhere – but provided Schoenberg with sufficient ammunition to attempt to play the one publisher out against the other. Marschalk was having none of it and eventually nine of the eleven works would land permanently into UE’s catalogue with priority contracts that went until July 1st, 1930. Schoenberg was not an easy partner and would always feel himself exploited by whichever publishing agreement he struck. Still, he was loyal enough to turn down an offer from Peters in recognition of the fact, that despite all misgivings, Hertzka was never prepared to see his composers go hungry and was more easily pumped for advances than other publishers. It’s was an apparent reality Schoenberg was constrained to acknowledge through gritted teeth. Only after Herzka’s death did Schoenberg acknowledge in a letter to Webern in 1933 the advantages he had enjoyed as part of the UE stable of composers.  Throughout the relationship, Schoenberg tried pulling away, first with the opera Von Heute auf Morgen, then with Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene. His mistrust of publishers carried on right through his years of immigration though Erwin Stein, a former Schoenberg pupil working at UE managed to mediate in such a fashion as to keep Schoenberg on board. More importantly, Schoenberg’s pupils would play a central role in the future direction of UE. The publisher would become the principal representative of his “Second Viennese School”. What Heinsheimer neglects to mention is that 1909 was the first year when Schoenberg claimed to have “found his true voice” following his op. 13 song cycle, Book of the Hanging Gardens from 1908.


Franz Schreker as a young composer

It’s perhaps worth translating the short passage Heinsheimer writes on Franz Schreker, as it holds much that is objective while at the same time representing the subjective view of Heinsheimer’s generation:

“Fate had other plans with the third composer signed in 1909: the 31 year old Franz Schreker. His successes were faster and steeper, though both he and Hertzka, who perhaps placed more hope in this composer than in any other, would experience an equally steep and sudden downward spiral. Franz Schreker did not arrive at UE as a publishing innocent having already signed an earlier contract with Joseph Eberle, the same publisher as Mahler earliest symphonies. Schreker contracted to Eberle fifteen songs, a choral work and a Symphonic Overture. One of the shareholders of UE, Adolf Robitschek, was the publisher of five additional Schreker songs and a Psalm for women’s chorus while Bosworth & Co. (another Viennese publisher) had brought out his Intermezzo for Strings.  All of this publishing promiscuity would now come to an end as the time of UE’s priority contract drew near. A constellation of events proved fruitful as Schreker’s danced pantomime based on Oscar Wilde’s The Birthday of the Infanta proved a resounding success when performed as part of the Secessionists’ “Art Show” held on the open field where Vienna’s Konzerthaus was soon to be built. [. . . .] Grete Wiesenthal, Vienna’s famous expressionist dancer, took the role of the Infanta. The press reported, “While one admired Grete Wiesenthal, one was no less enchanted by the sensually fascinating music full of exotic harmonies that met the ear with a strange sense of sound creation. . . .was this music that was chosen by painters not itself a form of sound painting?”


Poster for the ‘Kunstschau’

Following his youthful opera Flammen set to a text by his close friend Dora Leen, Schreker found himself incapable of working with any librettist, leaving him to write his own and, as Heinsheimer makes clear, collect the royalties for both text and music. Heinsheimer makes the rather mystifying point that the contract between Schreker and UE excluded operettas, something he couldn’t imagine being part of Schreker’s creative psyche. In any case, Schreker’s advances were  four times the size of Schoenberg’s. In addition, what singled out Schreker’s contract from all others was the prominent role that opera would play. It led to UE having to address the very point that Julius Korngold had made: there was no department that was focused or specialised in the promotion of stage works and with Schreker now under contract, this was a situation that could no longer be tolerated. A team was hastily thrown together with a templated contract that took 10% of box office of which the composer and librettist (in the case of Schreker one and the same) took 80% and the publisher 20%. Orchestra and soloist material had to be provided, text books, chorus parts etc along with a specialised department that matched up appropriate stages with appropriate works. And of course there were the additional rental charges levied against scores and parts, which if a work was successful and enjoyed a lengthy run could eventually cover all of the publisher’s investment. Adding to all of this, a myriad of by-products emerged with which they had not reckoned: arrangements, sheet music of individual numbers and of course, the newly emerging media of recording and broadcast.


Schreker in broadcast mode

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.


Schreker’s wife Maria as the glamorous courtesan Grete in his opera Der ferne Klang

We then get a detailed account of Schreker’s various operas which you can read about in the separate Schreker article on this blog. He summarises the following: Schreker’s Ferner Klang was performed in 31 different houses; Die Gezeichneten in 28 and Schatzgräber in 55. It placed Schreker in the early 1920s as possibly the most performed composer from Austro-German Europe and with the powerful Frankfurt journalist Paul Bekker pronouncing him in 1919 “the only logical successor to Richard Wagner”, Schreker was soon UE’s most valuable acquisition. From 1927, however, the trajectory changed drastically: Irrelohe only found 11 takers with Singender Teufel only making it to 3 different stagings. His last opera, Schmid von Ghent never made it past its premiere in Berlin’s Charlottenburg Opera and his opera Christophorus was withdrawn altogether. It was the end of the UE relationship, though Freiburg had agreed to a performance of Christophorus in 1933, the Nazis made sure it would be cancelled.


A Nazi attack on Schreker (and Ernst Toch) in the 1938 ‘Entartete Musik’ exhibition in Düsseldorf

The physical headquarters of UE changed several time following its departure from Weinberger: legend has it that the first address behind the stock exchange so horrified Mahler that he dropped his manuscript whereupon it was driven over by tram thus suffering permanent damage and Mahler suffering permanent Trauma. A second location was near the city hall, but too far from action to be of any use and only with the departure of the Music Academy from the Musikverein to the newly built Konzerthaus would office space be made available, which Hertzka swiftly snapped up. It was hardly possible to be closer to the action than in the heart of Vienna’s premiere concert venue and down the hall from its foremost collection of original manuscripts, run by Eusebio Mandyczewsky, (later teacher of Hans Gál). UE moved into their new quarters (where it remains today) only two days before the shots in Sarajevo. Distribution and rights’ management were still new disciplines and as such UE consolidated with Robischek and Hofmeister in Leipzig, explaining the UE “Vienna and Leipzig” locations on early scores. Hofmeister distributed throughout most of Europe whereas Robischek dealt with Austria-Hungary, Russia and the Balkan states.


The first ICSM meeting in Salzburg in 1922 Ethel Smythe in the middle

The next advantageous watershed for UE was a spate of new music organisations and festivals that sprung up in the early 1920s. These included the International Society for the Promotion of Contemporary Music (ISCM) or the Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (IGNM) and a festival on the Fürstenberg estate in Donaueschingen, soon relocating to Baden-Baden and precursor to the Darmstadt summer courses, post World War Two. Donaueschingen started in July 1921 featuring works by pupils from Schreker’s composition class: Alois Hába; Ernst Krenek and Wilhelm Grosz. Though Schott’s composers Paul Hindemith and Ernst Toch would eventually become the principal torch bearers for both Donaueschingen and Baden-Baden, UE dominated with its sheer number of young composers streaming out of Franz Schreker’s composition class in Berlin, where since 1920, he had become Director of the city’s Music Academy. At the same time, Dr. Werner Reinhardt invited Hermann Scherchen to head his music colloquium in Winterthur, another of the first new-music venues. The ICSM, on the other hand, with its first festival in Salzburg in 1922, veered closer to Schoenberg’s school. The search of a modernist voice, in order to distant music from the harmful, delusional effects of 19th century Romanticism or the insane lack of rationality of early 20th century Expressionism, resulted in a plurality of styles and experiments that must be unique in the history of music. It coincided with the advent of new media, pouring oil onto the flames of creative diversity. No institution was able to profit as much from this inventive incontinence as UE with both major teachers and many of their most promising pupils under contract.

Dr. Wilhelm Grosz

Photo Portrait of  Wilhelm Grosz

Hába, the father of micro-tone composition is described as looking like an intellectual variant of the Good Soldier Schwejk with bristly hair. “The opposite of this restless experimenting Bohemian Don Quixote was Felix Petyrek, a friendly, modest, rather quiet musician of considerable competence and talent”; Grosz was another Viennese, according to Heinsheimer, “gangly, restless and nervous; incapable of settling down”. In addition he had a “broad face with owl-like spectacles perched on a fleshy nose.” He was always elegantly dressed, “more like a banker than a musician” and Heinsheimer goes on to write of “his considerable successes in Vienna as a pianist and composer with his opera based on Molière [Sganarell] running at the State Opera, a brilliant piano concerto and his jazzy Baby in the Bar, written together with Balázs Béla”, the author used by Bartók for his stage-works. Nevertheless, Heinsheimer describes his music as having only a “thin curtain” separating it from overt populist hit songs, which later in British exile, proved to be his forte and most successful genre. He died “a real musician’s death, crumpling up at the piano as he played Rosenkavalier to friends in 1939.” Heinsheimer also mentions Max Brand whose opera Maschinist Hopkins, (Mechanic Hopkins) premiered in Duisburg  in 1929 and was quickly taken up by a further 27 opera houses. Other names follow such as Paul Pisk and Ernst Kanitz, but he also includes Berthold Goldschmidt with mention of his successful opera Der Gewaltige Hahnrei.

KR and Gerta Paris 1933

Karol and Gerta in Paris 1933

The list of Schreker pupils goes on until he arrives at the name of Karol Rathaus, “a tall, elegant former cavalry officer, always seen together with his ivory cigarette holder and his gorgeous West Prussian wife Gerta”. He recalls many happy evenings in their Berlin home meeting an endless succession of local musicians and composers. He goes on to state, “Rathaus composed a lot, but it was all of the highest quality” and he’s genuinely impressed by Rathaus’s admirers and supporters including such well-established figures as Walter Gieseking, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Erich Kleiber. Even if their established composers such as Mahler, Schreker and even Schoenberg could attract the big names in music, it was something of a sensation when the next generation appeared to move so effortlessly into the same ranks. One senses a special fondness for Rathaus, and Heinsheimer praises his unique genius as film composer, though it wasn’t a career he pursued in America. Instead, this man “who didn’t have a single enemy in the world” contented himself teaching and building up the music department at Queens College in New York “where they now have a concert hall named after him”. Elsewhere in this blog, I suggest that had Rathaus moved to Hollywood, he may have found himself in front of the House of Un-American Activities, suffering the fate of close friends Hanns Eisler and Bert Brecht.


Ernst Krenek with his first wife Anna Mahler in 1923

The youngest and most productive of Schreker’s pupils was, however, Ernst Krenek. And it would be the success of Krenek’s Jonny Spielt Auf (Jonny Strikes up the Band!) that would make both composer and publisher enormously wealthy – if even only for a short time. It would also launch a spate of similar “contemporary operas” or Zeitopern that paradoxically stemmed largely from Schreker’s composition class, such as the already mentioned Mechanic Hopkins and Baby in the Bar.


The young and very self-confident Ernst Krenek

Anyone who has read Krenek’s memoirs Im Atem der Zeit will have gained an impression of aristocratic hauteur. It came less from any sense of class entitlement, given that he came from a Bohemian military family, but from the natural superiority that comes from having enjoyed the finest possible classical education, opening further his already open and brilliant mind. His parents were ambitious and unlike most non-Jewish middle class families, not the least anxious about promoting his musical gifts. At the time, there was a view expressed by the “gentler” (non-Jewish) social sectors concerning the “vulgarity” of Jewish musical prodigies. Indeed, precocious musical talent was altogether seen as a touch suspicious: social gate-crashing by Jews, whom people in “nice society” tended to avoid. The Jewish bourgeoisie were far less squeamish and indeed promoted such talent for many of the reasons concerning “social gate-crashing”. It was this conflict between two emerging “middle classes” during a time of Empire, aristocracy and the Imperial Court that often came across as anti-Semitism in Krenek’s own writing. At the same time his first two wives were well outside the legality of Nuremberg race laws and Krenek’s attitude was no doubt influenced by his close friendship with the ultimate anti-Semitic Jew, Karl Kraus.

Krenek, Ernst - Komponist, USA

Krenek in 1927

Heinheimer points out that from the very beginning, Hertzka sensed that there was something special about Krenek that separated him from all the other Schreker pupils. He not only received the now standard “priority” contract, but also an advance paid as monthly instalments. This was a policy that was quite new at UE and instigated by Hertzka himself.  A revision of the contract between Krenek and UE is highlighted by Heinsheimer and worth translating as it provides a window into the past and shows the incredibly low number of sales anticipated for new music at the time:

“Resultant from the change of circumstances between us as of 19 February 1921, certain modifications of our agreement are to be undertaken:  [. . .] The number of editions reproduced for sale will be 300 for all compositions for two-handed piano performance as well as for piano together with other instruments including works for violin solo and Lieder. All other works are reproduced as saleable editions in no greater number than 100 copies.  [. . . ]The basis for royalty payments will now be the Austrian price in Crowns rather than as previously agreed, the German sales’ price with reference to the fact that [Krenek]foregoes all sales in the decreasing value of the currency and receives the equivalency of 14% of the Austrian sales’ price. The price is determined by the price given at the point of publication. At present the sales price is 1 Mk (Mark)= 1,700K (Crowns).”

The hopeless race against inflation is further reflected in the following conditions: “My [Krenek’s] advance against royalties will consist of 3,600,000K or monthly instalments of 300,000K.The Austrian Crown’s present rate against Gold is to be used in all future evaluations”


Eduard Erdmann in the 1920s

The first six years of Krenek’s contract were, at most, “promising”, though they brought in little capital and absolutely no profit. There followed a piano sonata in E-flat, a Dance Suite for piano, a string quartet, the score of Symphonic Music. Op. 13 was a Toccata and Choral along with an appendix of 4 short pieces as variations on the choral “with different characters”. Heinsheimer remembers these works as they were the ones he first encountered upon taking up his position in UE in 1923. When asked about the provenance of the Choral, Krenek admitted that he and his friend Eduard Erdmann had simply made it up. Erdmann was, according to Heinsheimer a rather strange bird but an important exponent of new music. He spoke German with a Lithuanian accent, wore clothes that were ridiculously ill-fitting for his lanky figure and once arrived to premiere a new piano concerto in Salzburg wearing only hiking gear, while the orchestra performed in standard evening-dress. Krenek could not stop himself from composing – the music flowed and a there emerged a steady stream of ballets, symphonies, Concerti Grossi and incidental stage music. With all of this productivity, the costs to UE grew ever greater. Even Hertzka, the most indulgent patron Krenek could possibly have, began to doubt the sanity of their agreement and “what grumpy Joseph Simon and his daily tedious trawl through the accounts thought are best left to the imagination.”


Universal Edition’s cover design for score of piano Highlights of ‘Jonny spielt auf!’

Even operas, with which many otherwise unprofitable composers had been able to recover their losses, only increased UE’s economic agony. Krenek’s Zwingburg, Sprung über den Schatten and even Orpheus und Eurydike with a libretto by Oskar Kokoschka contributed to a financial black hole that sucked up company finances at a dizzying pace.  At one point while working for Paul Bekker in Kassel, he was presented with a gift of 10,000 Swiss Francs by Werner Reinhardt which he used while writing his fourth opera. And it would be this fourth opera, Jonny Spielt Auf! that would make him a super star overnight following its premiere on 10th February 1927 in Leipzig. Within only eighteen months, it had managed 500 performances with countless international performances still to come including lots of anticipated Dollar-Royalties with a run booked at the Metropolitan Opera. His three one-act operas, Schwergewicht; Der Dikator and Das Geheime Königreich, followed with a premiere in Wiesbaden and 21 further opera houses. As Heinsheimer writes: “Nothing succeeds like success”.

Jonny poster low res

Poster created by Krenek’s publishers showing all the cities in Germany where ‘Jonny’ had played

Krenek thus created a one-man subdivision within UE, employing an army of dedicated copyists and editors. Heinsheimer tells us that until that point, a single copy of a score and parts were all that was needed for a new opera. With Krenek, they needed 2500 first violin parts and hundreds of parts for brass and woodwinds. None of this activity included the jazz orchestra and dance suite adaptations that followed or the sheet music for the individual “hit” numbers along with countless other arrangements. With a $10,000 option for a Hollywood Jonny film split 50/50, all advanced payments were recouped, despite the film never seeing the light of day. And of course, Krenek also earned royalties as librettist, having written the Jonny text himself. Krenek turned to a banker for advice – an unknown situation hitherto for any UE composer. As the ultimate cherry on the good-fortune cake of 1927, the misery-guts, Joseph Simon passed on to the great balance sheet in the sky, making everyone’s life much easier.


Instruction in sound recording at Berlin’s Music Academy – Paul Hindemith on the far right

Krenek’s relationship with UE resulted in a number of changed circumstances which Heinsheimer interestingly highlights: Until this point, a publisher was allowed to hold a completed work for four weeks before deciding whether to take it on. Heinsheimer mentions that this “right” of holding on to a work for a month before reaching a publishing decision was augmented for the first time with mention of broadcast, which it labels as “transmission via cable or via cableless means”. It also brought in “reproduction via any artificial means” (as opposed to live performances) and thus incorporates synchronisation rights for cinema and left the door open for such future innovations as television and even computer games.


This was the new age of the publisher. They were less dependent on the sales of physical copies of music, and more the beneficiaries of performance rights. Worldwide networks were established of performing rights organisations which collected and controlled the so-called small rights, while the publishers and composers controlled “grand rights” which were the rights to stage works. Client bases were now institutions, broadcasters and production companies, all of which paid far more in the exploitation of a work than the single musician with his or her purchase of the physical score. This opened the door to works that had been totally forgotten suddenly gaining enormous prominence by appearing in a film, or being used as part of a sound track. As Heinsheimer writes, “a trivial piano piece un-regarded and long forgotten, slumbering in the archive had a chance of finding itself in major demand should it suddenly be used as part of a movie soundtrack from whence it could move to recording studios and then sold as a disc. It could happen to any long forgotten song or any other unproductive work lying in the store: just like sleeping beauty awaiting her prince.” He even remarks with a certain amazement that a ballet troupe used works of Webern in NY [Martha Graham and George Balanchine in 1959], which had he been alive at the time, would have most certainly overwhelmed the poor man with unexpected royalty payments!


Muzak per Telephone?

One of the weirder developments was an American electrical company that developed a method whereby it was possible to subscribe to music being sent down a telephone line, thus according to Heinsheimer, becoming the forerunner to Muzak: “Just imagine! You popped a coin into the slot and presto, you had Pierrot Lunaire piped into your living room! Of course the plan failed. . .“ It also shows the lines of thought taking place and the emerging income streams for a music publisher. “To feed this hungry giant”, the goal became to acquire as many copyrights as possible. Even in the early 20s, publishers foresaw the possibilities of music being piped into restaurants, stores, trains and planes. The establishment of Associated Music Publishers enabled UE and other European publishers to earn hard American Dollars, a welcome respite from liquid German and Austrian currencies sliding between fingers.


Heinsheimer and the good life – possibly with Ernst Krenek

Heinsheimer goes on to recount the close personal friendship he enjoyed with Krenek and his wife Berta, to whom Jonny is dedicated. With only a month’s age difference between Heinsheimer and Krenek, they became close friends, with Heinsheimer even being introduced to Krenek’s parents. He remembers his father as still spelling the name Křenek, and speaking the grammatically distinctive Czech influenced German that was more often the object of pan-German derision. Both Krenek and Křenek were wine connoisseurs while Heinsheimer recalls his mother, “Fr. Emanuela” as the generous provider of Bohemian calorie bombs: dumplings and pastries all stuffed, filled or covered with cream. “In those days, none of us had ever heard of a calorie, let alone cholesterol.” It obviously did her no harm as Heinsheimer met again, well into her 90s in Hamburg, attending a performance mounted in honour of Ernst’s 70th birthday.


Hitler arriving in Vienna, March 1938

Karl V was the last collaboration with Krenek and UE before his flight from Nazi Europe in 1938. The work was a deliberate reaction to Jonny and the user-friendly language of his earlier operas. It was also an un-mistakable statement against the populist, hateful language of National Socialism. Commissioned by Clemens Kraus, it was met with resistance at the Vienna State Opera and the premiere took place instead in Prague under Schoenberg pupil, Karl Rankl.


Group photo – Heinsheimer on the left, Janácek on the right holding overcoat

Bartók, Janáček and Kodály joined the UE family. Webern was taken on as a composer in 1920, solidifying UE’s association with the Second Viennese School “with the signing of its first adherent”. The publishers also acquired the rights to Guido Adler’s critical editions of historic Austrian works, called Denkmäler der österreichischen Tonkunst, (Monuments to Austria’s Musical Arts) and including such “Austrian” composers as Monteverdi. Venice was formerly Austrian, though not at the time of Monteverdi. Guido Adler, like many newly assimilated Austrian Jews, took a robust view of German-Austria’s world position. Despite this bit of excessive nationalism, a number of important early music manuscripts were produced, and with the immigration of Egon Wellesz to Oxford, the seed of authenticity was planted in early music performance. Additional publishing outfits were purchased for liturgical, military band and popular music. A fortune was made in a law suit for plagiarism when it was discovered that the mega-hit Trink, Trink Brüderlein Trink had a more than suspicious resemblance to a hit song published by one of UE’s subsidiaries.

Emmy and Egon Wellesz on their Italian Honeymoon 1908

Emmy and Egon Wellesz on their Italian Honeymoon 1908

Egon Wellesz is described as a neighbour of Hertzka’s in Vienna’s Kaasgraben, and a UE composer since 1917. This is an interesting discrepancy as Heinsheimer notes Webern as the first exponent of the Schoenberg School, when in fact Wellesz had been part of the same small group of devoted pupils that included Alban Berg and Anton Webern. The difference was Wellesz decided to leave Schoenberg’s tuition on the advice of Bruno Walter, who warned him against Schoenberg’s dogmatic inflexibility. Wellesz is admired by Heinsheimer as an academic and historian and recounts his many operas and ballets based on works by the likes of Jakob Wassermann, but also on material that was Asiatic and Native American. His most famous collaborations were with Hugo von Hofmannsthal with Alkeste and later his own reworking of Hofmannsthal’s text on Euripides’ the Bacchae. Heinsheimer points out how exceptional it was that his opera Bakchantinnen should have been permitted to premiere at the conservative State Opera in Vienna and notes Wellesz’s general success and high regard, while mentioning that his art historian wife Emmy, looked and acted like a character from a Schnitzler play. Tantalisingly, he neglects to mention which one he might have been thinking of.



First copy of Musikblätter des Anbruch –later shortened to Anbruch

Anbruch – or as Krenek wrote, “a pretentious Expressionist means of referring to Dawn” – was another important initiative started by UE. It was a monthly journal devoted to new music and begun in 1919, running until 1937. It was launched at exactly the same time that Hermann Scherchen brought out Melos for UE’s competitor, Schott & Sons, which would also produce Melos’s “little brother”, a publication called Auftakt (Upbeat) based in Prague. Of all of these publications, Melos and Anbruch would remain the most lasting and important. Just a glance at the very first edition offers articles by Guido Adler, Egon Lustgarten, Franz Schreker, Bernhard Paumgartner, Egon Wellesz, Oskar Fried and Frederick Delius. Later, everyone would contribute and the publication stands as a timeline to music in the inter-war years.  The 23 year old Adorno joined the editorial board in 1926 and from 1929 took on the job as general editor before leaving “upon mutual agreement between the editorial offices and Wiesenthal-Adorno.” Nevertheless, Heinsheimer, Ernst Bloch and Krenek continued to make regular contributions as did all of UE’s many composers including Kurt Weill. Even with Adorno’s departure, the intellectual integrity of the publication would never be compromised.


Alban Berg

During the first days of Anbruch, Hertzka invited Alban Berg to take it on as editor. He was thirty five years old and fascinated by a number of literary subjects. In my own book, I quote Berg’s merciless take-down of Pfitzner’s anti-Semitic, anti-modernist polemic on “musical impotence”. It was an offer that later in a letter to his friend Webern, he admitted he couldn’t do, while worrying what the possible consequences might be in appearing to cross Hertzka. It would take Paul Stefan to rescue the magazine in 1922, allowing Berg to continue his work on Wozzeck.


Alban and wife Helene on the eve of Wozzeck’s Berlin premiere, 1925

Despite Berg’s long prior association with UE having provided piano scores of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder and Schreker’s Der ferne Klang, he would not be taken under contract as a composer until 1923. By this point, Berg was already publishing and selling his own works – a practice that even continued following his agreement with UE. Heinsheimer muses at the first contract in which Wozzeck is spelled incorrectly and everything is typed and signed in a rush. “Who would have known that this agreement would result in an opera that would for a short time be as popular as Rosenkavalier or Turandot?” The adaptation for smaller theatres and orchestras of Wozzeck was made by Erwin Stein, increasing both its appeal and earning potential.


Alban Berg and Anton Webern – two of Erwin Stein’s responsibilities

Indeed, Stein was apparently sent as a “Schoenberg plant” to UE. In any case, he made the relationship between UE and Webern workable. Webern is described as “brilliant, fanatical with nervous movements while speaking in a very un-nervous lower Austrian dialect. Webern had a friendly almost affectionate relationship with first and foremost “Ambassador Stein” but also with nearly everyone at the publishers. He was modest, grateful for every friendly gesture and had become accustomed to the hard, ungratifying life of a composer”


Karl Weigl

Heinsheimer recalls Zemlinsky as a “bird-faced, delicately featured man, brother in law of Schoenberg; an exceptionally great conductor, a fabulous teacher and in possession of a razor sharp sense of humour. He stood tragically between the past and the future, but we had significant successes with his Gottfried Keller Kleider Machen Leute (Clothes make the Man) and Der Zwerg/The Dwarf, based on Oscar Wilde.” Karl Weigl is remembered as being “rather glum, almost dark and quite a stocky individual whose inner demons one both admired and respected. He had the look of someone who didn’t believe the fates had anything positive in store for him.”

Caricature of Hans Gál

Caricature of Hans Gál

Heinsheimer then explains how UE came to acquire an entire catalogue of Russian composers, thus bringing both Prokofiev and Shostakovich to the house thanks to a Prof. Dzimitrovsky who established the connection.  Countless additional anecdotes pepper his history. I particularly liked his description of Hans Gál  as “the thinnest man with the most hollow cheeks I’ve ever seen but absolutely in the best of health of anyone I knew”. He goes on to recount how his opera Die heilige Ente went from one opera house to the next through a steady progression lasting ten years since its premiere in Düsseldorf with Georg Szell conducting in 1923. [Only removed from the repertoire of numerous operas houses by the Nazis in 1933] Apparently Gál burst into their offices and spluttered in Viennese dialect, “Osnabruck hammah’ jetzt auch’” meaning “we’ve even got Osnabruck now!”  It became a worthy battlecry and entered UE’s general vernacular  in reference to anything that was particularly successful.


Rankl and Eisler in Berlin_10024(W4vB2x3)

Karl Rankl and Hanns Eisler in Berlin

The incomplete history of UE draws to an end with an account of Hanns Eisler, the bad boy of the Schoenberg Circle. He remembers being treated as a naïve know-nothing by Eisler in the friendliest possible way: “a member of a class soon to be removed from power, while being allowed for the time being to continue promoting the works and efforts of Hanns Eisler”. They spent many a long night together in Café Museum together with Rudolf Kolisch and though their paths would not cross again and Heinsheimer would only “read about Eisler in the papers”, he recalls the “fondest of memories”.


Erwin Stein

Erwin Stein is also treated to a couple of final pages as “the Schoenberg plant” as head of the orchestral department and therefore a direct colleague of Heinsheimer’s. It was clear, however, that the Vienna School had gained enormously in profile and Stein’s presence at UE guaranteed that the publisher would remain on top of developments. He also took on the magazine Pult und Taktstock, a conductor’s magazine that lasted a mere six years until the Wall Street Crash created the economic meltdown that resulted in UE having to make cuts. The last sentence on the last page following the report of the demise of Pult und Taktstock is the chilling remark: “and then the good times came to an end”.