About us

Günter Henle

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”.

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

 

1899

           

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

1916–1918

 

Participation in World War I

1918–1920

 

Law studies in Marburg and Würzburg, also gains doctorate

1921–1931

 

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

1931–1936

 

Attaché at the German Embassy in London

1933

 

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

1937

 

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

1940

 

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

1947–1949

 

Member of the Frankfurt Wirtschaftsrat (Economic Council)

1948

 

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

1949–1953

 

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

1951–1964

 

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

1955

 

Co-founds the Joseph Haydn Institute in Cologne

1955–1973

 

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

1956

 

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

1964

 

Honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy at Cologne University

1968

 

Publication of the autobiography “Three Spheres”

1972

 

Establishes the Günter Henle Foundation

1976

 

Retires as senior partner from Klöckner & Co

1979              

 

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.