In memory of Holger Siems (1942-2021)
September 29, 2021. It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to Holger Siems. He was our colleague for 31 years. Initially, from 1976, as head of our sales department in Munich. Then, from 1986 onwards, as managing director of our then newly founded subsidiary "G. Henle USA Corp." in St. Louis, Missouri. What started as a temporary secondment became an extraordinary success story thanks to Mr Siem's energy, perseverance, knowledge, skill and passion. During his 21 years in the USA, he succeeded in popularising the blue Urtext editions throughout this enormous market. He almost quadrupled Urtext sales during these two decades. Thanks to Mr Siem's pioneering work, the USA is still our largest single market today. We closed the St. Louis office when Holger Siems retired in 2007, and transferred the exclusive distribution rights to Hal Leonard Inc. (Milwaukee, Wisconsin).
Holger Siems travelled to almost all US states by car, plane and train, and visited many of them several times. He organised hundreds of piano workshops, exhibited at countless American fairs and conventions, cultivated many personal relationships and friendships with his charm and his likeable "German accent" - in short: until his retirement in 2007, Holger Siems was the face and voice of G. Henle Verlag in the USA.
Every quarter he sent detailed reports to his home country about all his successes and failures, and about the latest trends and developments in the music industry. Thousands of these densely-written "diary" pages, which we keep in our archive, document Mr Siem's incredible diligence and wealth of ideas. In 1995, G. Henle Verlag, which essentially means Holger Siems and his great colleague Jil Newman, received the special "Publisher of the year" award (from the Retail Print Music Dealers Association). In 1997 we had to move to a new and much larger office (St. Louis, Maryland Heights) due to the now rapidly expanding US market. From there, we served the entire American continent.
A special and very popular highlight were the many group trips American sheet music dealers took to the Frankfurt Music Fair ("European Adventures") which Mr Siems organised every spring. He always combined the trade fairs visits with perfectly planned coach tours through Germany and neighbouring countries. The American dealers who took part in these "adventures" will have fond memories of these trips and of their friend Holger.
With the death of Holger Siems, G. Henle Verlag lost a unique and special person. In her brief obituary, Madeleine Crouch, former president of the RPMDA, says: "Holger understood the value of travel to open doors, promote business and foster cultural understanding. … Holger was charming and sophisticated with a wonderful sense of humour that knew no borders. He was a truly generous colleague to his fellow publishers and a trusted advisor to his dealer customers. We will miss him!"
We pay tribute to our former colleague Holger Siems and we will honour his memory.
(Munich, September 29, 2021, Dr. Wolf-Dieter Seiffert)
P.S.: An excerpt from an interview Mr Siems gave to NAMM Oral History in 2006:
Photo: G. Henle Verlag