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Viennese music publisher.

As Director of Universal Edition from 1907 to 1932, Hertzka fashioned the company into one of the leading music publishing houses of the 20th century, his fame resting primarily on his advocacy of the more progressive composers at the turn of the 20th century, and especially of the members of the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg, Webern), Weill, Bartók, and Janáček.

Hertzka and Universal Edition

Born in Budapest, Hertzka studied chemistry, and also music and literature, at the University of Vienna. In 1893, he joined the music publishing firm of Weinberger (some sources say that he first joined the publisher and concert agency Gustav Léwy, which sold out to Weinberger in 1897), the proprietor of which, Josef Weinberger, was one of the founding subscribers of Universal Edition, Vienna. UE was formed in 1901 through the collaboration of three existing publishers, Josef Weinberger, Adolf Robitschek, and Bernhard Herzmansky (of Ludwig Doblinger), with the aim of creating Austrian editions of Classical composers, and providing educational materials for schools. After six years, the company was on the brink of failing when, in 1907, Hertzka was brought in to rescue it. While maintaining the two original lines, he moved contemporary music to the center of its enterprise. By sound judgement, a keen sense of publishing politics, and skillful negotiation, he identified many of the leading progressive and avant-garde composers. By entering into agreements with other companies (e.g. Eberle, Josef Aibl, Fürstner, Bote & Bock, Simrock) in the first few years, offering contracts to progressive composers (e.g. Mahler, Schoenberg, Schreker, Foerster), with many of whom he forged strong personal bonds, and adopting aggressive advertising strategies, Hertzka brought to UE the profile that it has had ever since as the leading publisher of contemporary music.

Later, Hertzka launched in-house journals-- Musikpädagogische Zeitschrift (1911), Musica divina (1913), Musikblätter des Anbruch (1919), Pult und Taktstock (1924), and Schrifttanz (1927)--which offered publicity and forums for discussion of UE's catalog, and by acquiring the publishers A. J. Gutmann in 1920 and Philharmonischer Verlag in 1927 he extended UE's range significantly. As a result of all these developments, UE became a principal publisher of the music of Reger, Richard Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner, Szymanovski, Zemlinsky, Schreker, Josef Marx, Godowsky, Delius, Milhaud, Respighi, Krenek, Weill and other late-19th and early-20th-century composers, in addition to almost all of the leading "modern" composers (with the notable exceptions of Stravinsky and Hindemith).

Ernst Roth, who worked with him at Universal Edition for seven years, has the following description of the man: Emil Hertzka was a strange man, a mixture of commercial astuteness and rash idealism. [. . .] His appearance seemed to contradict his actions: he looked as old-fashioned as any fin-de-siècle artist, with his long hair, long beard, brown velvet jacket and large black tie – a majestic figure, half Wotan and half Brahms, who contrasted strangely with the revolutionary music […]; his thin, sharp voice seemed not to belong to his imposing figure. He was not a kindly or genial man but displayed a biting and often cynical sarcasm [. . .]. [H]e did what no other music-publisher at that time dared to do, and considerable sums of money were spent not only on engraving, printing, paper, binding and publicity but also on supporting financially the struggling prophets of the new art. All this was done without charm, grace or warmheartedness, without any evident generosity – and yet it was still a unique undertaking.

Hertzka and Schenker

Schenker was recruited as an editor in 1901 to UE, with whom he published his edition of C. P. E. Bach keyboard pieces and Beitrag zur Ornamentik (1903). His first publication under Hertzka was the Instrumentations-Tabelle (pseudonymous author "Artur Niloff") (1908), followed by his edition of J. S. Bach's Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue (1910). Herztka's arrival in 1907 rapidly created an environment wholly inimical to Schenker, and it was inevitable that the two men would come into conflict. Schenker goaded Hertzka with such remarks as that UE was a publisher "that places its main emphasis these days on anti-musical music" (WSLB 52, February 7, 1910). Hertzka's driven management style and use of modern publishing techniques (of which the typewriter was a symbol) irked Schenker, and it was perhaps the advertising of Schoenberg's Second String Quartet and Klavierstücke, Op. 11 in the 1910 catalog that marked the first decisive moment at which Schenker turned against the Director. Hertzka clearly valued Schenker's work, and was unfailingly courteous in his dealings with him; nevertheless Schenker showed increasing acrimony toward him throughout the 1910s, alternating with brief reconciliations during which Schenker articulated his vision for UE as the leading music publisher in Europe. At the same, time, Schenker always insisted on corresponding only with Hertzka rather than with other officials of UE.

Hertzka's slowness to take up Schenker's planned Kleine Bibliothek (first mooted in 1912) brought the two men to another crisis point in 1914 (diary, OJ 2/9-10, pp. 821-23, December 24, 1914). When the project eventually came to publication in 1921-24 as Der Tonwille, Hertzka used A. J. Gutmann as a shield for UE, employing the fictional imprint "Tonwille-Flugblätterverlag." Schenker resented this and Hertzka's exerting of editorial control, calling him "wrong, biased, and terroristic" (OC 52/574, February 20, 1923), and accusing him of censorship as well as of administrative incompetence and falsifying accounts. Schenker resorted to an attorney in Fall 1924 in preparation for legal proceedings against UE, but after a year of recriminations, a settlement was agreed on December 10, 1925 that resulted in Der Tonwille being continued with Drei Masken Verlag of Munich under the title Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (1925, 1926, 1930). After a four-year silence between the two men, correspondence began again in December 1928, and eventually normal civilities were restored; UE became Schenker's principal publisher again, issuing Der freie Satz posthumously in 1935, three years after Hertzka's death.

Hertzka was Jewish. Like Schenker, and most Viennese Jews at the time, he sought to assimilate into German culture. He was, however, a cosmopolitan Jew, nurturing an international network of business and cultural relationships within and beyond Europe, and traveling frequently to forge deals, develop personal contacts, and attend important performances; Schenker, conversely, was a German nationalist, detested the Romance and Anglo-Saxon nations, and saw commerce and trade as detrimental to the world of the mind and to the arts. Hertzka was a pacifist and believed in democracy; Schenker had militaristic tendencies and believed in rule by an enlightened aristocracy. Hertzka was optimistic about the future of music; Schenker saw all about him only signs of its downfall.

Correspondence with Schenker

Correspondence between Hertzka and Schenker is one of the largest exchanges of letters among Schenker's papers. It covers 1908 to 1931, and survives as most of the items from Schenker to UE, WSLB 1-444, and much of correspondence from UE to Schenker, OC 52/1-939.


  • "Hertzka, Ehepaar," in OeML Online
  • Simeone, Nigel, "Universal Edition," NGDM2 (2001 and online)
  • 25 Jahre Neue Musik: Jahrbuch 1926 der Universal-Edition, eds. H. Heinsheimer & P. Stefan (Vienna: UE, 1926)
  • UE: Universal Edition 1901-2001 (Vienna: UE, 2000)
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebücher ... (Hildesheim: Olms, 1985), esp. pp. 31-34 (biography), 320-23 („Kaufmannsstand-Handel")
  • Bent, Ian, "'That Bright New Light': Schenker, Universal Edition, and the Origins of the Erläuterung Series, 1901-1910," Journal of the American Musicological Society 58/1 (Spring 2005), 69-138
  • Drabkin, William & Bent, Ian, General Prefaces to Der Tonwille: Pamphlets in Witness ..., ed. William Drabkin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 2005, I, v-viii, II, v-xii [recounts conflict over Tonwille]
  • Roth, Ernst, The Business of Music: Reflections of a Music Publisher (London: Cassell, 1969), pp.60–61; Ger. edn, Musik als Kunst und Ware: Betrachtungen und Begegnungen eines Musikverlegers (Zürich: Atlantis, 1966), pp. 66–67

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