Edition Peters

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Edition Peters
An Edition Peters title page of an old bound volume of Beethoven's piano sonatas.
Founded 1800
Founder Franz Anton Hoffmeister and Ambrosius Kühnel
Country of origin Germany
Headquarters location Leipzig
Publication types sheet music
Official website www.edition-peters.com

Edition Peters is one of the oldest and most famous music publishers in the world. Since 1800, it has been publishing the works of the most significant composers in the history of music. Its complete catalog, which today is made up of more than 12,000 titles, contains not only the works of the great classical composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, but also important contemporary composers. From the start, the firm has seen its role as being to produce editions edited to exemplary standards. This means that the latest research has to be taken into account and that great importance is attached to working with renowned and highly experienced editors. From the earliest days, much emphasis has been placed upon high quality manufacturing.


On 1 December 1800, the Viennese composer and publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754–1812) and the Leipzig organist Ambrosius Kühnel (1770–1813) founded a "Bureau de Musique" in Leipzig – a publishing house combined with music and instrumental retailing. Among the main publishing activities in the early years were so-called "complete editions" of the keyboard works – and later also the organ works – of JS Bach. These constituted the earliest complete edition projects in the history of publishing. A proper appraisal of the works of JS Bach has remained a central concern of the publishing house ever since. The music retail side also reached out beyond its local community: Goethe and Beethoven bought their instruments from the firm.

In 1814, the firm passed into the hands of the book dealer Carl Friedrich Peters (1779–1827), to whom the publishing house has owed its name ever since. He was able to incorporate into the publishing program a broad palette of works by the composers of the time, such as Beethoven, Spohr, Weber, and Hummel.

Carl Gotthelf Siegmund Böhme (1785–1855) acquired the firm in 1852 and Julius Friedländer (1827–ca.1885) bought it in 1860. In the same year, the invention and implementation of a rotary press for printing music made CF Peters one of the leading music publishing houses. Building on this, Max Abraham, who became joint owner in 1863 and sole owner from 1880, founded "Edition Peters" in 1867. The first edition in this publishing series was JS Bach’s "Well-Tempered Clavier", which was given the number EP1. The light green covers, with their distinctive appearance – a green border reminiscent of those on financial securities documents, the logo, and the characteristic font used for the composer’s name – have become known the world over and form the brand identity of the publishing house.

The complete works of Edvard Grieg are to this day a particular feature of Edition Peters. Abraham also founded the "Peters Music Library" in 1894, a musicological library freely available to the public, and later also established the "Yearbook of the Peters Music Library". The volumes of this series contained articles by prominent musicologists.

The publishing house achieved a new dimension of local and international significance under the leadership of Henri Hinrichsen, to whom it fell to take over the publishing house as sole manager following the death of his uncle Max Abraham in 1900. As a patron of the arts, Hinrichsen maintained a balance between business and artistic interests and maintained relationships with all the significant composers of his time. Works by Richard Strauss, Mahler, and Schönberg were brought into the catalog. Henri Hinrichsen granted financial support in numerous ways to both individuals and institutions and obtained extraordinary recognition for his generous support of a wide variety of projects. Among other things, he founded several kindergartens and schools in Leipzig. Indeed, by means of a generous endowment, he enabled Henriette Goldschmidt to found the first college for women in Germany. He also acquired the Heyer Collection of Musical Instruments and partially gifted this to the City of Leipzig. The collection, which is among the largest and most valuable in Germany, is now to be found in the Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig.

In 1938, a ban on business activity was imposed upon Henri Hinrichsen and one of his sons Hans-Joachim, who was co-owner of Peters at the time with his father. The publishing house was then confiscated from the family in two ways: first it came under Nazi trusteeship; then, in September 1939, it was "aryanized" by means of a compulsory purchase contract. The purchase price was confiscated by means of a tax on Jews as well as by a tax on emigration from the Reich. Henri Hinrichsen, his sons Hans-Joachim and Paul, as well as other relatives, among them several children, tragically met a violent end in concentration camps.

Two of Henri's sons, Walter and Max, safely left Germany and, subsequently, established Peters music publishing houses in New York City and London, respectively. In 1950, they established a further Peters company in Frankfurt.

In the year 2000, the publishing house celebrated 200 years of its existence and was able to look back on 200 years of successful publishing work, and with it, 200 years of eventful musical history, with all its cultural developments that include both highs and lows. Events of extraordinary significance, but also of great human tragedy, have put their stamp on the work of the publishing house over two centuries.

Urtext editions represent a particular publishing focus today in Edition Peters, especially in the area of 18th and 19th century oratorio.

The publishing house’s best known composers of the 20th and 21st century include John Cage, Mauricio Kagel, György Ligeti, and Morton Feldman, alongside its contemporary composers Mark Andre, Jonathan Dove, Bernd Franke, Brian Ferneyhough, Anders Hillborg, Rebecca Saunders, Ming Tsao and Erkki-Sven Tüür, to name but a few, as well the New Generation.

The catalog of the Edition contains a large number of established instrument education editions alongside a virtually complete series of all the standard classic works for solo and ensemble performers. Throughout its more than 200 years of history, the publishing house of CF Peters has at every stage understood the importance of embracing the multiple, multifaceted and variable requirements of musical life, whether through Edition Peters with its editions of the great classics, through complete and Urtext editions prepared with musicological care, or through literature for musical education.

With countless commissioned works and first publications, the publishing house has been able to make a constant contribution to contemporary music with its great importance for the world of music.

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