G. Henle Verlag

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G. Henle Verlag
Founded20 October 1948
FounderGünter Henle
Country of originGermany
Headquarters locationMunich
Key peopleWolf-Dieter Seiffert
Publication typessheet music
Official websitewww.henle.com

G. Henle Publishers is a German publishing house that specializes in urtext editions of sheet music. The programme includes works by composers from all different periods, in particular composers from the baroque to the early twentieth century whose works are no longer under copyright. In addition to its sheet music, G. Henle Publishers also produces scholarly complete editions, books, reference works and periodicals.The publishing house also offers its Urtext editions in digital form, available in an app for tablets.


The publishing house was founded on 20 October 1948 by Günter Henle with the permission of the US military government. It had offices in Duisburg and Munich. Under the founder’s direction, from the very beginning an integral part of the business was to “ensure the publication of Urtext editions of music on a scholarly basis, in particular from the 18th and 19th centuries”. It was at this time that Joseph Lehnacker (1895–1965) came up with the “Henle blue” for the cover (the same colour that is used today) as well as the design of the title font.

For several decades, the engraving was done by the Universitätsdruckerei H. Stürtz (Würzburg). Later they were joined by engravers in Leipzig and Darmstadt. The first works to be published were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Sonatas in two volumes, edited by Walther Lampe, and Franz Schubert’s Impromptus and Moments Musicaux, edited by Walter Gieseking. Towards the end of the 1990s, hand engraving of the musical texts was replaced by computers.

1949 saw the publishing house’s participation in the first post-war music fair in Detmold. In 1953 the editorial department was established at the Duisburg offices with Ewald Zimmermann (1910–1998) at its head.

Due to Günter Henle’s work in industry, the publishing house was initially dubbed the "Klöckner music factory", yet it slowly became one of the major players in the German music publishing business. In 1955 the employees in Munich moved to the newly acquired publishing house in Schongauerstraße 24.

Günter Henle was much involved in founding the Joseph Haydn Institute in Cologne in 1955. Following this, the first scholarly works in the Haydn Complete Edition were published, whose volumes have since been issued by G. Henle Publishers. In 1969 Martin Bente (*1936) took over from Friedrich Joseph Schaefer (1907–1981) as chief financial officer in Munich. Three years later, in 1972, Günter Henle established the Günter Henle Foundation in Munich, which later assumed ownership of the publishing house. The foundation was initially chaired by Günter Henle, and following his death by Walter Keim from 1979 to 1981 and then by Anne Liese Henle, Günter Henle’s wife, between 1981 and 1994, and C. Peter Henle, son of Günter and Anne Liese Henle (1994–2016). Felix Henle, son of C. Peter Henle, took over the chair in 2016.

Current design for Urtext Editions (since 1999)

In 1978 the publishing house acquired its present offices in Forstenrieder Allee 122 in Munich. The following year, Günter Henle died. This led to the closure of the Duisburg offices and accordingly the expansion of the Munich subsidiary, with Martin Bente as its head. In 1981, the publishing house participated at the first German Music Fair in Tokyo, and at the same time, G. Henle USA Inc. was established in St. Louis, Missouri, initially as a joint venture. From 1985 onwards, this USA sales subsidiary acted solely on behalf of the Munich parent company. Holger A. Siems (*1942) was appointed CEO after having been Head of Sales since 1976. This subsidiary was closed in 2007; ever since, the publishing house has been exclusively represented in the US by the Hal Leonard Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The publishing house also participated at the First International Book fair in Beijing in 1986; in 1995 a first publishing licence was granted to the Chinese State Publishing House "Peoples Music Publishing House" in Beijing. To date, numerous Urtext editions by G. Henle Publishers have been published for the Chinese market with this licensing partner and also with the Shanghai Music Publishing House.

Since 1995 Henle has also produced “Study Editions” as pocket scores (17x24 cm) alongside its blue Urtext editions. Beginning in 2016, the publishing house has also offered its Urtext editions in digital form, available in an app for both iOS and Android tablets.

Wolf-Dieter Seiffert (*1959) took over from Martin Bente as CEO in 2000, prior to this he had worked as an editor at the publishing house since 1990. In 1993 a further floor was added to the publishing house; in 2005 the ground floor was modernized and completely refurbished. The catalogue now comprises around 1500 Urtext editions and around 750 scholarly publications.

Publishing programme[edit]

Urtext editions[edit]

At the heart of G. Henle Publishers’ programme are the so-called practical Urtext editions. They are characterized by their correct musical text – drawn up following strict scholarly principles – with an extensive commentary on the sources consulted (covering autographs, copies, early printings) and details regarding the readings. The programme now includes almost all of the important piano works and chamber music for small groups: the complete piano works of J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, J. Haydn, W. A. Mozart, Schubert, R. Schumann; in addition numerous other selected works for piano for two or four hands, organ works and a standard repertoire for duos and piano trios as well as music for string quartet. On top of this the catalogue also contains the complete song editions of Beethoven and Haydn and R. Schumann’s most important song cycles. The programme also comprises Urtext editions in a smaller study format (Study Edition Series) as well as several facsimile editions of composers’ manuscripts.

In the digital “Henle Library” app, the fingerings and bowings can easily be removed or added through a simple click. Numerous works are available in the app with additional fingerings and bowings free of charge by famous living and historic performers.[1]

G. Henle Publishers building in Forstenrieder Allee in Munich

Special editions and series[edit]

  • Joseph Haydn Werke, edited by Joseph Haydn Institut Cologne. Munich, 1955 ff. Scholarly complete edition of the works of Joseph Haydn. The edition has 111 volumes with 34 series. The edition is almost complete.[2]
  • Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), published under the patronage of the International Musicological Society and the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres, Series B. Munich 1960ff. RISM publishes a series of international catalogues documenting extant musicological sources, both manuscripts and printed ones, around the world up to 1800 and beyond. The systematic Series B is published by G. Henle Publishers.[3]
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Werke. Complete Edition, edited by the Beethoven-Archiv Bonn. Munich, 1961ff. (Publications of the Beethoven Haus Bonn). The edition is projected to reach 56 volumes. About half of them have already been published.
  • Das Erbe deutscher Musik, series on the Legacy of German Music, Section Early Romantic Music, edited by the Musikgeschichtliche Kommission e.V., Munich, 1964ff.
  • Haydn-Studien. Publications by the Joseph Haydn Institute, Cologne, 1965ff. The periodical is published in 1 to 4 issues per volume at intermittent intervals.
  • Kataloge Bayerischer Musiksammlungen, edited by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, 1971ff.
  • Johannes Brahms. Thematic-Bibliographical Catalogue of his Works, edited by Margit L. McCorkle after joint preparations with Donald McCorkle. Munich 1984.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven. Briefwechsel. Complete Edition of his Correspondence, edited by Sieghard Brandenburg. Munich 1996–1998. Volumes 1–6 comprise letters from 1783 to 1827, volume 7 the index. Volume 8 (Documents, subject index) is in preparation.
  • Johannes Brahms. Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, edited by the Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe, Munich, in cooperation with the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. Munich, 1996ff. Historic-critical new edition of Johannes Brahms’ Complete Musical Works, headed by the editorial department in Kiel. The edition is projected to reach 65 volumes in 10 series.[4]
  • Robert Schumann. Thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis, edited by Margit L. McCorkle. Munich 2003.
  • Beethoven aus der Sicht seiner Zeitgenossen, edited by Klaus Martin Kopitz, Rainer Cadenbach. Munich 2009.
  • Max Reger Werkverzeichnis, edited by Susanne Popp on behalf of the Max Reger Institute in cooperation with Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Jürgen Schaarwächter and Stefanie Steiner, Munich 2011.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven. Thematic-Bibliographical Catalogue of Works, edited by Kurt Dorfmüller, Norbert Gertsch and Julia Ronge, in collaboration with Gertraud Haberkamp and the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, revised and substantially expanded new edition of the catalogue of works by Georg Kinsky and Hans Halm. Munich 2014.

Levels of difficulty[edit]

In 2010 the publishing house asked Rolf Koenen to classify its piano literature according to levels of difficulty: there are three levels, each one subdivided into a further three; Ernst Schliephake did the same for the violin works and András Adorján for the flute music. Thus, the Prelude in C major from The Well-Tempered Clavier I was designated “easy ” (level 2) and the Toccata op. 7 by Robert Schumann as “very difficult” (9). The classification is intended to help people find pieces that are appropriate for a certain level of ability.


  1. ^ "What is Urtext? / G. Henle Verlag". www.henle.de. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  2. ^ "Joseph Haydn Werke". Joseph Haydn-Institut. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  3. ^ "Répertoire International des Sources Musicales". Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  4. ^ "Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe". Retrieved 2016-08-28.

Further reading[edit]

  • Günter Henle: Three spheres, a life in politics, business, and music. Chicago, 1971. [1]
  • Günter Henle: Verlegerischer Dienst an der Musik. 25 Jahre G. Henle Verlag. Munich, 1973. [2]
  • Martin Bente (Editor): Musik, Edition, Interpretation. Gedenkschrift Günter Henle. Munich, 1980. [3]

External links[edit]