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Major German music publisher and printer.

The firm of Breitkopf was founded in 1719 and in the course of the 18th century established itself as one of Europe's leading publishing houses. It had both a publishing arm and a printing works in Leipzig. It was responsible for several innovations in music typography, most notably its devising in 1754‒55 of a system of movable type for music, which permitted the printing of music in far larger editions than had hitherto been possible. In 1796 the firm became Breitkopf & Härtel.

At the outset of the 19th century it began publishing "complete editions" of the works of composers such as Mozart and Haydn, and soon thereafter first editions of works by Beethoven. In 1862‒65 it published the complete works of J. S. Bach in 61 volumes, and in the later part of the century the complete editions of many other major composers, including Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, and Liszt. It also published many books about music. The firm continues to the present day.

Breitkopf & Härtel

Schenker contacted Breitkopf in 1894 with a view to publishing an article (letter from Maximilian Harden, OJ 11/42, [19]), apparently abortively. The firm, at the prompting of Ferruccio Busoni, published Schenker's Fantasy, Op. 2, Five Piano Pieces, Op. 4, and Two-voice Inventions, Op. 5, all for piano, in 1898, and also his Six Songs, Op. 3 in 1898‒1901. They declined his Six Songs for Mixed Chorus, Op. 7 and Ländler, Op. 10, for piano in 1898, his Syrian Dances for piano duet in 1899, and his Three Songs, Op. 6 in 1902.

He offered his Harmonielehre to the firm in 1905, but this was declined on the grounds that "the published works of Riemann along the same lines cast doubts on the sure success of your work" (OJ 9/20, [36]). He corresponded with the firm between 1913 and 1916 regarding photographs of Chopin's Etudes Op. 10 and Op. 25 (OC B/206‒214). In 1920, he offered them his Kleine Bibliothek (later to become Der Tonwille) and his complete edition of the Beethoven piano sonatas, but these were declined.

In 1911‒12, it was Breitkopf who printed Schenker's monograph on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (published by Universal Edition). As Schenker's disillusionment with UE's director Emil Hertzka increased, Wilhelm Furtwängler offered in 1922 to inquire at Edition Peters and Breitkopf & Härtel with a view to Schenker's moving away from UE. In 1929 and 1930, Furtwängler (OJ 6/7, [4]) and Karl Straube (OC 54/218, 298) sought, but without success, to procure either Peters or Breitkopf for the publication of Schenker's analytical study of the "Eroica" Symphony. Later in 1930, Anthony van Hoboken unsuccessfully tried to persuade Breitkopf to undertake a complete edition of the works of C. P. E. Bach with which Schenker was to be involved in conjunction with the Photogrammarchiv (PhA/Ar 36, [1]).

There are also numerous references to the firm in Schenker's diaries.

Correspondence between Breitkopf & Härtel and Schenker

Correspondence between Breitkopf & Härtel and Schenker survives as OJ 9/20 (33 letters and postcards from Breitkopf dating between 1894 and 1920, with copies of statements of account and contracts), OC B/206‒214 (eight letters and postcards and one invoice from Breitkopf dating from 1913‒16), and Sbb 55 Nachl. 12, [1], from Schenker to Breitkopf of 1930.

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  • Ian Bent

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Correspondence

Diaries