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History - Deutsche Grammophon

DG History - The Twelfth Decade

Deutsche Grammophon returns to Berlin in September 2011.
By end of 2015 senior media executive and award-winning Juilliard scholar Dr. Clemens Trautmann takes over operational management of the label. He succeeds Mark Wilkinson who takes up a global role within Universal Music’s classical business as Vice President International Strategy & Artist Development.
The Streaming of Music is one of the great changes for listeners and recording companies in this decade. So it is quite natural that Deutsche Grammophon started a Curated Channel on Apple Music with recordings especially selected by a team of Deutsche Grammophon curators. This channel can act as a guide, both for its many faithful followers and for novices who may not know where to begin in the world of classical music.

DG History - The Eleventh Decade

At the beginning of the new millennium, the Universal Music Group is purchased by the Vivendi Group, adding the largest record company to its portfolio as its new-media vision expands.
In 2006 a new digital-only imprint, DG Concerts, brings top-flight, live orchestral recordings directly to iTunes listeners, inviting them into the great concert halls of the world via the internet.
In recognition of these achievements, Deutsche Grammophon is named „Label of the Year 2007“ by Gramophone magazine,“

DG History - The Tenth Decade

In 1989 and 1990 respectively, the music world loses two great conductors long associated with Deutsche Grammophon, Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein.
In 1998 PolyGram is acquired by Seagram – and is merged with its subsidiary Universal, forming the world’s largest record company, Universal Music Group. Deutsche Grammophon also reaches its centenary in 1998, as the world’s largest and most successful classical record company of its day.

DG History - The Ninth Decade

At the end of 1984 Siemens sells 40% of its half share in PolyGram International to Philips, who later buys the remaining 10% in 1987. In 1986 the Hanover factories – the first and largest producers of CDs – are taken over from PolyGram by Philips as part of a Hanover factories joint venture with the chemical company, DuPont; Hanover remains the label’s most important supplier. In 1987 DG, with its sister PolyGram labels Philips and Decca, begins to release videocassettes and laser discs of mainly concert and opera recordings licensed from Unitel, entering a new era of video recordings of classical music.

DG History - The Eighth Decade

A restructuring of the DGG/PPI group in 1971 is followed by the formation of PolyGram, with headquarters in Baarn (Netherlands) and Hamburg. In 1978 a brilliant career begins as 14-year old violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter makes her debut recording of Mozart with the Berliner Philharmoniker under her mentor Karajan. In 1980, PolyGram takes over Decca Records.

DG History - The Seventh Decade

The electronics companies Siemens (Munich) and Philips (Eindhoven) combine their interests in the recording business in 1962, establishing a new entity DGG/PPI (Philips Phonographic Industry); however, DG retains control of its own recording activities and catalogue.

DG History - The Sixth Decade

In 1950 78-rpm records with up to nine minutes playing time per side are introduced, based on the DG invention of variable grooves, and the next year the company releases its first 33-rpm long- playing records (also known as LPs).
In 1956 the company transfers its headquarters to Hamburg, while the production plants remain in Hanover. In the following year, the new Deutsche Grammophon trademark, the “cartouche”, is introduced.

DG History - The Fifth Decade

After the outbreak of World War II and faced with a shortage of raw material, Deutsche Grammophon again stagnates – and in 1941 it is taken over by the electronics and engineering company Siemens & Halske. On 9 May 1942 the Gestapo formally prohibits DG from producing masters using Jewish artists and orders the destruction of all records in which they are featured. Some recordings continued to be issued during this and the following year.
After the war’s end, a small record-manufacturing facility is opened in Berlin while the destroyed factory and administrative buildings in Hanover are being rebuilt. In 1946, Deutsche Grammophon becomes the first company to make all recordings using magnetic tape. In the following year, Archiv Produktion is founded to promote early music. In 1949 exclusive rights to the trademark “His Master’s Voice” in Germany are sold to Electrola (EMI Germany) and the yellow Deutsche Grammophon label with tulip crown is introduced.

DG History - The Fourth Decade

The worldwide “great depression” precipitates a decline in record sales and in 1932 the company merges with Polyphon and moves its headquarters back to Hanover.
In 1937, after further years of falling production, Deutsche Grammophon AG goes into liquidation and in its place Deutsche Grammophon GmbH is founded, co-financed by the Deutsche Bank and Telefunken Gesellschaft. In spite of increasing Third Reich restrictions, some important recordings continue to be made.

DG History - The Third Decade

In 1924 DG is allowed to resume use of the Nipper “His Master’s Voice” trademark as well as its pre- war matrices for issue in Germany, while the Polydor logo is introduced for exported records.
By 1925, when the electro-acoustic recording system is introduced, the company has brought out all nine Beethoven Symphonies, with Oskar Fried and others conducting the Berlin Staatskapelle. By the time of Joseph Berliner’s death in 1928 and Emile’s the following year, DG’s annual production has reached nearly 10 million records, with the Hanover factory employing some 600 people.

DG History - The Second Decade

The earliest orchestral recording is marketed in 1910: the opening movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Wilhelm Backhaus.
In 1913, Deutsche Grammophon causes a sensation with its first complete recording of an orchestral work: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with the Berliner Philharmoniker under its principal conductor Arthur Nikisch, is released on four double-sided discs, for Mark 9.50 (then equivalent to about $2.25 / 1,70 €) per disc; in Britain it is issued on single-sided discs over several months.
With the outbreak of World War I, Deutsche Grammophon’s assets are impounded by the German government on the grounds that the company is English and therefore its holdings are enemy property. In 1916, the German and English firms – the latter destined to become the modern EMI – go their separate ways. Deutsche Grammophon can no longer use the trademark “His Master’s Voice” or export from Germany discs recorded abroad.

DG History - The First Decade

The story of Deutsche Grammophon goes back as far as the birth of recording itself. In June 1898, the company is founded in Hanover along with the first record and gramophone manufacturing works. Its directors are Emile Berliner – the Hanover-born American inventor of both the disc and the player – and his brother Joseph. Their factory uses American-made hydraulic presses to produce shellac discs for the Gramophone Company, established earlier that year in London by Emile’s associate William Barry Owen, with recordings supervised by Emile’s American associate Fred Gaisberg. By 1900, when the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft becomes a joint-stock company with headquarters in Berlin, Berliner’s disc has eclipsed Edison’s cylinder as the industry standard, and Gaisberg is busy acquiring respectability for the new medium by signing up famous artists.
Enrico Caruso makes his first recording for the Gramophone Company in Milan in 1902. Deutsche Grammophon is soon appointed purveyor to the British and Spanish royal households, thereby acquiring the ultimate seal of approval. By 1907 its Hanover factory has some 200 record-pressing machines in operation and that year it turns out the first two-sided records.

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