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Günter Henle

The diplomat, politician and industrial magnate Günter Henle (1899–1979) lit upon the right idea at the right time. On 20 October 1948 he founded his “publishing house for Urtext editions”. An accomplished pianist himself, he realized that there were scarcely any editions that accurately reproduced the composer’s musical text. Most editions were marred by unnecessary and often incorrect additions from later editors and arrangers. Moreover, the outward appearance of the edition often left a lot to be desired.

It was against this background that Günter Henle founded his publishing house in 1948 with the sole aim of finally reproducing the correct, that is, authentic text of great compositions. Whilst looking for a fitting term to differentiate his editions from all others, Günter Henle lit upon the word “Urtext” in isolated text-critical editions. It soon became apparent that Henle's idea of creating a modern Urtext edition was the right decision and one with far-reaching consequences. It changed the music publishing landscape forever. Today many publishers of “serious music” use the label “Urtext”. Admittedly, some also apply the term rather lightly as it is neither protected by copyright nor has its meaning been clearly laid down (for the term “Urtext” see here).

Together with a small team of specialists, Günter Henle devoted no less care to the outward appearance of his Urtext editions than to their musicological contents. Soon after founding the publishing house, the great artists of the time began to shower him with enthusiastic praise and recognition.

See also “Artists” and “Guestbook”.

From the beginning, Günter Henle paid very close attention both to the visual appearance (music engraving, paper, printing, binding) of his musical editions and to the musicological-philological quality. The success of the company bearing his name has proven him right. We are committed to Günter Henle’s ideals every day.

Curriculum vitae



Born on 3 February in Würzburg
Childhood and youth in Munich
Piano lessons with Walther Lampe



Participation in World War I



Law studies in Marburg and Würzburg, also gains doctorate



Attaché in the diplomatic corps, serving in Berlin, Amsterdam, The Hague and Buenos Aires; appearances as a pianist, including the premiere of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia op. 80 in Buenos Aires



Attaché at the German Embassy in London



Marriage to Anne Liese Küpper, the stepdaughter of the owner of the Klöckner consortium in Duisburg



Peter Klöckner takes on his son-in-law Günter Henle as a partner in the company



Death of Peter Klöckner, Dr. Henle steadily rises to the top of the industrial firm



Member of the Frankfurt Wirtschaftsrat (Economic Council)



Founds his “Publishing house for musical Urtext editions”
Offices in Duisburg and Munich



Member (CDU) of the first German Parliament
Advisor to the German Chancellor Adenauer on foreign policy and economics

since 1950


Sponsorship of numerous highly-gifted musicians, e.g. Edith Peinemann, Murray Perahia and Frank Peter Zimmermann; friendships with many important musicians, including Pablo Casals, Walter Gieseking, Karl Klingler, Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrach, Arthur Rubinstein, Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Rudolf Serkin



Chairman of the Music Society of the Cultural Council of German Industry



Co-founds the Joseph Haydn Institute in Cologne



Co-founds and first President of the German Council on Foreign Relations



Honorary member of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung (Society for musicological research)



Honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy at Cologne University



Publication of the autobiography “Three Spheres”



Establishes the Günter Henle Foundation



Retires as senior partner from Klöckner & Co



Dies on 13 April in Duisburg

See also the article on Günter Henle in Wikipedia (in German).

Texts by and on Günter Henle available for download free of charge

  • Günter Henle: Weggenosse des Jahrhunderts.
    Als Diplomat, Industrieller Politiker und Freund der Musik | PDF, 135 MB
    Die Autobiographie Günter Henles
    Stuttgart 1968, 420 pages, German
  • Günter Henle: Three Spheres. A Life in Politics, Business, and Music | PDF, 92 MB
    The Autobiography of Guenter Henle
    hicago 1971, 306 pages, English

  • Günter Henle: Verlegerischer Dienst an der Musik | PDF, 21 MB
    Munich 1973, 75 pages, German

  • Musik, Edition, Interpretation. Gedenkschrift Günter Henle | PDF, 145 MB
    edited by Martin Bente, with contributions from numerous experts
    Munich 1980, 498 pages, German, English and French

Please note: G. Henle Publishers holds the worldwide copyright of all texts. Please use the printed editions for quotations.