Shanghai Conservatory of Music signs contract with legendary German publisher Breitkopf & Härtel

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/21 13:50:59

Representatives of Shanghai Conservatory of Music and German music publisher Breitkopf & Härtel sign a cooperation contract on 15 March in Shanghai. Photo: Courtesy of Breitkopf & Härtel publishing house

Chinese composer Shen Ye Photo: Courtesy of Shen Ye

Prestigious German music publisher Breitkopf & Härtel signed a contract with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music on last Friday that will see the conservatory's works be introduced to a global audience. 

According to Chinese news site, the first batch of works that will be published include works from the late musician Yang Liqing and two chamber music works by composer Jia Daqun. 

The oldest music publishing house in the world,Breitkopf & Härtel has published over 8,000 works and 15,000 music editions encompassing more than 1,000 composers since its establishment in 1719. Over the past three centuries, the publisher has been closely tied to master-level composers such as Beethoven, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms and contemporary classical composer Helmut Lachenmann.

Now, this legendary publisher has finally set its sights on the contemporary classical music of China. Some analysts have stated that close cooperation with such an overseas publisher is sure to greatly promote the global influence of China's contemporary classical music.

Pave the way 

"Yes, 2019 is special", said Wang Lei, the Breitkopf & Härtel representative in China. "This year is the 70th birthday of People's Republic of China and the 300th anniversary of Breitkopf & Härtel ."

According to Wang, the publisher has been looking to establish more ties with Chinese music institutions and symphony orchestras, which ties in nicely with the goals of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, which is committed to establishing cooperative partnerships with foreign music institutions and introducing China's contemporary classical music to the world. 

 "The reason we established a relationship with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music is because it is the first higher music institution in China, which is a good fit for the Breitkopf & Härtel, the oldest music publishing house in the world," Wang said.

"In addition, Cai Yuanpei, a Chinese educator and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music's first president, was once an international student at the Leipzig University in Leipzig, the place where Breitkopf & Härtel was founded," Wang told the Global Times. 

The agreement signed on last Friday did not come out of the blue, there were actually several events that paved the way for the official cooperation. 

As early as October 2008, Breitkopf & Härtel and four other world-renowned music publishing houses came to National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing to participate in the World's Top Five Music Publishers forum, during which Chinese and German organizations established a good basis for cultural communication and exchanges, according to a report from Chinese news site 

Moreover, the friendship between the two sides has deepened in recent years. According to the Shanghai Music Publishing House's website, in October 2016 Breitkopf & Härtel took part in the Shanghai Music Publishing House's 60th anniversary celebrations as an international partner, which strengthened its confidence in traditional publishers in China. 

Conqueror of time 

"I was inspired!" said Shen Ye, composer and composition professor of Shanghai Conservatory of Music, told the Global Times after he found out he had been selected to be the first Chinese composer to be published by Breitkopf & Härtel. 

Although the cooperation is a surprise for him, Shen remains modest.

"I am still focused on composing, and now they (Breitkopf & Härtel) tie to me, they are going to help me with the other affairs."

According to Wang, Shen doesn't need to worry about anything other than music, the future publication of his works, contracts and international performances will all be handled by Breitkopf & Härtel.

"Shen's signing was the result of an independent professional evaluation by the contemporary music editorial department at the publishing house," Wang explained.

"First of all, his unique music language and style meets the standards of the publisher. At the same time, experts also consulted with the German orchestra he previously worked with and got really good feedback. The composer himself is young and promising," she added.

Besides his composer's career, Shen has been teaching as a visiting lecturer at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg since 2009 and a visiting scholar at the Universität der Künste Berlin since 2011. With teaching and studying experience in both the East and West, Shen has some unique thoughts on composition and philosophy.

"I pursue fascinating music's temporary victory over the boredom of time," Shen said. 

"The purpose of music is to make people forget about time's existence, and the triumph of music is to replace the passage of time with the flow of sound. I, as a composer, look for ways to conquer time."

According to Shen, China's music is no different than Western music in terms of creative thought and freshness of culture. 

"I cannot represent Chinese contemporary classical music, I can only represent myself," Shen noted. "Music is music… but people sometimes forget about this."

"People from different areas may have different feelings about music. When we share the experiences of music, we actually savor the spices of variety lives."

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