Old roots, new branches

Fennica Gehrman was founded in October 2002. Despite its young age it has roots stretching back a hundred years in Finnish music. The Swiss businessman Konrad Georg Fazer founded Fazer Music in 1897 by purchasing a music shop in Helsinki. His brothers were also active in their own fields: Edvard Fazer was the founder and director of the Finnish National Opera and Fazer Artist Management, and Karl of the famous chocolate maker’s.

Fazer Music was a name familiar to all in Finnish music. During decades it served Finland by supplying whatever was needed to perform and listen to music. Meanwhile Edition Fazer, as part of the publishing division, assumed responsibility for the invaluable task of publishing serious music.

When K. G. Fazer and R.E. Westerlund purchased the small but well-run music shop in Helsinki in November 1897, they very soon turned to publishing – the very next year in fact. The turn of the century was a golden era for Finnish music. Jean Sibelius had entered the Finnish musical scene, soon to be followed by Erkki MelartinSelim PalmgrenArmas Järnefelt and Oskar Merikanto. All were at the height of their creative powers and outside was a nation thirsting for culture, enthusiastic and grateful for anything their composers could give them.

The very first publication by the new Helsinki music shop proved that it was aware of its cultural obligations: item number one on its publishing list was the opera The Hunt of King Charles by Fredrik Pacius, the premiere of which in 1852 had heralded Finland’s cultural awakening. The publication of Pacius’s opera was a cultural act not designed to bring any economic benefits, any more than were the works of Sibelius, Melartin or Palmgren, though they were in due course to prove a profitable line of business.

Roger Lindberg was for many years the company’s Managing Director and Chairman of the Board. He possessed all the qualities of an educated man-of-the-world and was a major patron and friend of the arts. These very same qualities were characteristic of the founder of Fazer Music, Roger Lindberg’s grandfather,Konrad Georg Fazer. Although Lindberg never sought to be in the limelight, he personified all that came to be associated with Fazer Music during the second half of the 20th century – a company with a strong cultural mission.

As new generations of composers emerged, they received a warm welcome from Edition Fazer. The Sibelius generation was followed by Toivo Kuula and Leevi Madetoja, later Aarre MerikantoYrjö KilpinenUuno Klami and many others. After the Second World War more and more Finnish modernists, such as Erik Bergman came into limelight and Einar EnglundEinojuhani Rautavaara andJoonas Kokkonen began to take the stage. Paavo Heininen has in turn been the leading influence on and teacher of the generation of Finnish modernists now enjoying international fame. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Edition Fazer began looking further afield. In December 1991 it welcomed a number of leading Estonian composers, of whom the best-known internationally are Veljo Tormis and Erkki-Sven Tüür.

In 1993 Fazer Music Inc., by that time nearly 100 years old, was acquired by the international Warner Music Group. In 2002 Warner/Chappell Nordic Group decided to abandon its active role of publishing serious music and formed an alliance with the Swedish publishing company Gehrmans Musikförlag. Fennica Gehrman was started up as an affiliate in Finland to administer the Finnish classical and contemporary catalogue in the best possible way.

In 2006 Fennica Gehrman acquired the catalogue of Edition Love and a year later Gehrmans and Fennica Gehrman finally succeeded in acquiring the Warner/Chappell Nordic classical catalogue. Fennica Gehrman became the owner of the valuable Finnish musical treasure consisting of ca 12 000 titles. As a result Fennica Gehrman is able to continue the long tradition of Edition Fazer and also to look further afield. Partnerships have been established with such contemporary composers as Kalevi AhoLotta WennäkoskiOlli Kortekangas, Kimmo HakolaMikko Heiniö, Veli-Matti Puumala and Matthew Whittall, among others.