Universal Edition

Last updated
Universal Edition
Universal Edition logo.png
Founded1901;119 years ago (1901)
Country of origin Austria
Headquarters location Vienna
Publication types Sheet music
Official website www.universaledition.com

Universal Edition (UE) is a classical music publishing firm. Founded in 1901 in Vienna, and originally intended to provide the core classical works and educational works to the Austrian market (which had until then been dominated by Leipzig-based publishers). The firm soon expanded to become one of the most important publishers of modern music.



In 1904, UE acquired Aibl publishers, and so acquired the rights to many works by Richard Strauss and Max Reger, but it was the arrival of Emil Hertzka as managing director in 1907 (who remained until his death in 1932) which really pushed the firm towards new music. Under Hertzka, UE signed contracts with a number of important contemporary composers, including Béla Bartók and Frederick Delius in 1908; Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg in 1909 (Mahler's Symphony No. 8 was the first work UE acquired an original copyright to); Anton Webern and Alexander von Zemlinsky in 1910; Karol Szymanowski in 1912; Leoš Janáček in 1917 and Kurt Weill in 1924. Through their association with Schoenberg, they also published many works by Alban Berg.

The firm's avant garde directions continued after World War II, when UE published works by a number of significant composers, among them Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Morton Feldman, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, György Ligeti and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Later important additions to the catalogue include Harrison Birtwistle, Friedrich Cerha, Georg Friedrich Haas, Cristóbal Halffter, Georges Lentz, Arvo Pärt, David Sawer and Johannes Maria Staud.

UE have also published several significant historical editions, including the complete works of Claudio Monteverdi. In collaboration with Schott, they have published the Wiener Urtext Edition series since 1972. Originally consisting of works for one or two performers by composers from Johann Sebastian Bach to Johannes Brahms, the series was later expanded to include a limited number of later works, such as the Ludus Tonalis of Paul Hindemith.

Litigation threats

On October 19, 2007, Universal Edition entered legal proceedings against the International Music Score Library Project, an online entity which seeks to make musical scores in the public domain available digitally. In response to a cease-and-desist letter from Universal Edition demanding that certain scores still covered by Austrian copyright be removed, IMSLP closed itself voluntarily, amidst controversy that UE's demands lacked reasonable legal grounds. For although Austrian copyright governs works published up to 70 years after its composer's death, IMSLP is hosted in Canada, where copyright lasts twenty years fewer. The Internet Law professor Michael Geist wrote a column for the BBC which suggested UE's actions lacked reasonable legal ground. [1] The International Music Score Library maintained that UE's actions lacked legal justification, and reopened on June 30, 2008.

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  1. Geist, Michael (12 November 2007). "Music copyright in the spotlight". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-01-06.