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125 Years of Deutsche Grammophon

125 Years of Deutsche Grammophon
12/05/2023

As DG’s birthday week arrives, the label celebrates its family of artists
with concerts in Berlin (6 December), Philadelphia (9 December) and Seoul (15 December)

Taking part are Joana Mallwitz, Bomsori, Kian Soltani, Rafał Blechacz,
Andrè Schuen, Bruce Liu, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, María Dueñas,
Hélène Grimaud, Moby and Víkingur Ólafsson

Famed for continuing the legacy of its inventive founder, the label has realised
new projects with Amazon and Google Arts & Culture and is showcasing
livestreamed events on its recently launched platform STAGE+

It is also launching its anniversary video series: Eric Schulz’s The Sound of Art

 

Deutsche Grammophon was founded 125 years ago this week. The world-renowned classical label is marking this milestone with symphonic anniversary concerts in Berlin and Philadelphia, followed by the Goldberg Variations performed by Víkingur Ólafsson in Seoul. In this anniversary week, DG is delighted to announce new projects with both Amazon Music and Google Arts & Culture, as well livestreams on its recently established classical online destination STAGE+ and the premiere of a five-part Eric Schulz video series about DG’s long and storied history.

“We’ve been building up to this moment all year with an array of special concerts across Europe, North America and Asia, where the celebrations kicked off in September with John Williams’ concert performance in Tokyo. The event calendar underlines DG’s global footprint and the diversity of our portfolio”, says Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “Our anniversary season has also seen brand-new releases from our archives as well as heritage reissues like our Original Source premium vinyl series. This reflects our responsibility for an unparalleled artistic legacy, our sense of quality and our ongoing enthusiasm for recording technology. The launch of a multi-faceted video documentary series on the rich history and vibrant present of Deutsche Grammophon, a virtual covers exhibition and the curated streaming experience on our STAGE+ platform are activities that represent the audiovisual initiative and digital transformation of the Yellow Label. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all our artists, the entire DG team and all our partners, who have collectively contributed to the incredible legacy of the Yellow Label and are now ready to set it on course for the next 125 years and more.”

Frank Briegmann, Chairman & CEO Universal Music Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon, adds: “Thanks to its openness to creativity and technological progress, as well as its appreciation for artistic panache and quality, Deutsche Grammophon has established and maintained a peak position in the international music business for 125 years. Many artists – even established stars – still see it as a dream come true to record for the famous Yellow Label. I’d like to thank all those whose excellence let the yellow label shine over the years, and I look forward to shaping DG’s future with everyone in our team and with the stars of tomorrow.”

 

BIRTHDAY CONCERTS: BERLIN, PHILADELPHIA & SEOUL

Berlin’s the place to be on Wednesday 6 December, as Joana Mallwitz conducts the DG125 birthday concert at the city’s Konzerthaus. Five other DG artists, members of a new generation of top-flight musicians, will share the stage with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and its Chief Conductor and Artistic Director. The programme includes major orchestral, vocal and choral works such as Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, featuring Bomsori, Kian Soltani and Rafał Blechacz; Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, with Andrè Schuen; and Beethoven’s Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt and “Choral Fantasy”, the latter with Bruce Liu and the RIAS Kammerchor. The event will be livestreamed on STAGE+.

Three days later, on Saturday 9 December, it’s over to Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall, where Yannick Nézet-Séguin will take the helm of The Philadelphia Orchestra for their own star-studded Deutsche Grammophon 125th-Anniversary Celebration. Joining them for the evening will be María Dueñas (Ravel’s Tzigane & Kreisler’s Caprice viennois), Hélène Grimaud (Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C sharp minor & two movements from Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major), and Moby (“Everloving”, “Hymn”, “Sarabande” & “Porcelain” with Hélène Grimaud). Nézet-Séguin and his “Fabulous Philadelphians” will also perform Florence Price’s Adoration, for string orchestra, and the thrilling finale from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.

“Even though I’m mainly known as an electronic musician, my formative years were spent studying music theory and playing classical guitar,” says Moby. “It still amazes me that I get to be involved with Deutsche Grammophon, as I and my family have treasured their releases for as long as I can remember.”

Finally, on Friday 15 December, the focus switches to the Seoul Art Center for the latest recital in Víkingur Ólafsson’s year-long worldwide tour of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The Icelandic pianist released his much-anticipated recording of this masterpiece of the keyboard repertoire in October – to enormous critical acclaim – and his Seoul performance will be streamed live on STAGE+.

 

DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON: 125 YEARS AT THE FOREFRONT OF TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION

Deutsche Grammophon was founded on 6 December 1898 by Emil Berliner, the man who, 11 years earlier, had invented the gramophone. He went on to develop the shellac disc, enabling recordings to be mass produced. Throughout its 125-year history, therefore, DG has been associated with state-of-the-art sound engineering techniques and the implementation of new formats.

In the late 1950s, for example, the label issued its first, experimental stereo LPs. A few short years later, in 1963, it released the legendary Beethoven symphony cycle recorded by Herbert von Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Almost two decades later, the same artists’ reading of Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie became DG’s first mass-produced CD.

More recently, Deutsche Grammophon has been quick to adopt cutting-edge digital technology, from MP3 and lossless audio to the immersive Dolby Atmos® spatial surround sound. Today the label not only delivers practically all of its new recordings in Dolby Atmos® versions, it also has an ongoing programme of remastered catalogue reissues.

And, of course, just one year ago, DG’s desire to explore new ways of bringing classical music to audiences worldwide led to the launch of its groundbreaking digital platform STAGE+, offering livestreams, video premieres, outstanding concert and opera performances from the archives, documentaries and a rich selection of new and historic audio releases.

 

COLLABORATIONS WITH GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE AND AMAZON MUSIC

Google Arts & Culture

This pioneering spirit has taken DG in other new directions and partnerships as well. It has now become the first label to create an immersive Pocket Gallery with Google Arts & Culture. Users can visit the carefully curated DG Cover Stories virtual exhibition, view some of the most striking images ever used on DG album covers, and find out more about the stories behind the creative process involved in their concept and production.

Amazon Music

DG is also the first label to promote and curate its own radio station on Amazon Music. Listeners can activate it via the voice command “Alexa, play Deutsche Grammophon”. To mark the 125th anniversary, Amazon Music’s Classical page will run a special feature, including a brand-new “Rediscover Deutsche Grammophon” playlist.

 

VIDEO SERIES: THE SOUND OF ART

Deutsche Grammophon has opened its doors and archives to director Eric Schulz, known for his classical music films. Using rare archive material, audio documents, cover art and film footage, he has produced The Sound of Art, a new five-part video series about the label’s history. He introduces leading figures at DG, past and present, as well as some of the artists who have played a part in DG’s evolution and success, from Lang Lang, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Víkingur Ólafsson and Alice Sara Ott to Joe Hisaishi, Joana Mallwitz and Jonathan Tetelman. Episode 1 premieres on YouTube today and on STAGE+ on 6 December.

Anne-Sophie Mutter has long enjoyed a close association with DG. “From the early days when I started working with the great Herbert von Karajan to my most recent albums with the young players of Mutter’s Virtuosi and the wonderful, inspiring John Williams, my relationship with the label has brought me a huge variety of fascinating and challenging recording opportunities,” says the violinist. “I’d like to thank the whole DG team for their support and their commitment to publishing great music. Happy birthday Deutsche Grammophon!”

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