Edition Peters: A Commitment to Bold New Sounds

EditionPetersLogo2020One of the most thrilling parts of working with music is discovering new works and budding composers who are changing not only the way we listen to music and perceive sound, but also how we conceive of the broader world around us and our place in it both today and into the future.

Edition Peters has consistently championed contemporary music throughout its storied history, and with its ever-expanding catalog, Peters continues to be one of the staunchest supporters of the artists who shape the future of our musical landscape. Here Kathryn Knight, President of C.F. Peters New York, illuminates the Peters commitment to new music:

Kathryn KnightPeters has been working with contemporary composers since its inception in Leipzig over two centuries ago, publishing new music by young and emerging composers such as Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Grieg… Our commitment to bold new sounds has remained steadfast since that time, signing 20th-century iconoclasts such as John Cage and George Crumb. We know that some of today’s mavericks will be the composers of tomorrow’s classics.

– Kathryn Knight, President, C.F. Peters NY

A Short History of Edition Peters

Edition Peters was founded in 1800 in Leipzig, Germany, and quickly established itself as one of the 19th century’s leading German music publishing houses, building relationships with the most outstanding composers of the era. In the 20th century, Max and Walter Hinrichsen — surviving members of the German Jewish family that owned Edition Peters — fled the Nazi takeover of both their homeland and their family business and established new publishing houses in London and New York, respectively, that would carry on the Peters tradition.

Walter Hinrichsen Meeting With Beethoven Portrait

Walter Hinrichsen, founder of Peters NY, holding a staff meeting under the famous Beethoven portrait by Stieler, now housed at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn

Walter Hinrichsen used the proceeds from sales of the classic Peters catalog to begin publishing the most important contemporary American composers, Japanese composers, and composers who had — like himself — escaped to the US from Europe. Among the many signings made over the years by Walter and his successors are works by John Cage, George Crumb, Morton Feldman, Toshiro Mayuzumi, Chou Wen-chung, Alan Hovhaness, Roger Reynolds, Chinary Ung, David Rakowski, David Amram, Ursula Mamlok, Milton Babbitt, Henry Cowell, Earle Brown, Lou Harrison, Christian Wolff, Charles Wuorinen, Mario Davidovsky, and Marc-André Hamelin, among scores of other composers.

George Crumb writing Fiddler 12-26-15

George Crumb composing a movement of Metamorphoses, Book I. (Photo Credit: Margaret Leng Tan)

The German, British and American Edition Peters companies were finally reunified as the global Edition Peters Group in 2010, with a deep, combined catalog of masterworks both classical and contemporary. In 2014, Edition Peters’ German office moved back to the firm’s historic home in Leipzig, and today, the New York office of Edition Peters carries on a renewed program of publishing and promoting music by living composers, marked by the signing of the trailblazing 21st-century American musicians Ashley Fure, George Lewis, Errollyn Wallen, and Sky Macklay.

A Special Treat from the Archives

The 1976 C.F. Peters catalog included a series of quotations by some of the most significant composers of the day about what music meant to them. Here is a collection of the original handwritten notes by John Cage, Toru Takemitsu, Lou Harrison and George Crumb:

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