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Company History

The cornerstone of the publishing company was laid by Dr. Hans Sikorski (1899-1972) in the year 1935, following activities as principle managing director of the Deutsches Studentenwerk in Dresden, which he helped to found, as publishing director of the press concern Mosse as well as editor of the renowned journal "Die geistige Arbeit" (The Spiritual Work) published by Walter de Gruyter with the Neuer Theaterverlag in Berlin. Already within just a few years, the new theatre and music publishing company had already attained considerable weight in the areas of dance and entertainment music as well as in dramatic and music-dramatic literature. During this period of ever-present political repression, in the cultural sector as well, the young enterprise nonetheless grew rapidly. An additional factor was that numerous, mostly Jewish, owners of publishing companies were forced to sell their enterprises by the national socialist regime, some of which were continued by Sikorski – whilst continuing to employ the former owners abroad, in some cases – and were considerably expanded in their catalogues during the course of the ensuing years.

Most of the well-known hits of those years came from the film genre; thus the close cooperation with the TOBIS formed the basis for the expansion of the repertoire. The titles by renowned composers such as Werner Bochmann (Abends in der Taverne), Harald Böhmelt (Kleiner Mann, was nun?), Franz Grothe (Jede Frau hat ein süßes Geheimnis), Peter Igelhoff (Der Onkel Doktor hat gesagt, ich darf nicht küssen), Peter Kreuder (Good bye, Johnny), Leo Leux (Es leuchten die Sterne), Theo Mackeben (Bel ami), Anton Profes (Kauf dir einen bunten Luftballon), Ralph Arthur Roberts (Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins), Friedrich Schröder (Man müsste Klavier spielen können), Norbert Schultze (Ach, ich hab’ in meinem Herzen) and Robert Stolz (Vor meinem Vaterhaus steht eine Linde) were recorded by the leading interpreters of the period.

The most serious destruction of the publishers’ possessions in Berlin and Leipzig was caused by the bombings of the year 1943. Following interim stations in Bad Aussee and Bad Kissingen, Sikorski set up its new headquarters in Hamburg in 1946, where, along with Joh. Aug. Böhme – Germany’s oldest music assortment, founded in 1795 – the only part of the enterprise that had had remained halfway intact was located. Following detention by the Allies, continuous de-nazification procedures and recovery of its publishing license, Sikorski gave back the "Aryanised" publishing companies during the course of various restitution procedures and/or reimbursed their original owners. Many composers of the pre-war period remained true to the publishers; emigrants such as Hugo Hirsch (Wer wird denn weinen, wenn man auseinander geht) and Kurt Schwabach entrusted their works to the publishing company after their return.

During the course of the following years, the repertoire policy turned increasingly towards current popular songs due to changes in the music market. Alongside the new works of the authors already engaged by the publishers, titles by Ralf Arnie and Ernst Bader (Tulpen aus Amsterdam), Werner Cyprys (Übers Jahr, wenn die Kornblumen blühen), Lotar Olias and Walter Rothenburg (So ein Tag; Junge, komm bald wieder) and Gerhard Winkler (Glaube mir, or Answer me) also enjoyed major international successes. And vice versa, successful titles from the Anglo-American  area were acquired and adapted by the German market (I Left My Heart In San Francisco, Mama, Memories Are Made Of This/Heimweh (Brennend heißer Wüstensand), No Milk Today, Satin Doll, Sunny, September Song). During the 1970s, the solid continued development of the catalogue was marked by the cooperation with the English composer Les Humphries (Derrick, Mexico, Mama Loo).

Before the Humphries era came to an end, a new talent had already emerged from his own ranks: the songwriter Rolf Zuckowski changed from administrative activity in the publishing company to the creative side. Following diverse successful compositions in the area of popular music, he turned to music for children, which became another important point of emphasis in the work of the publishing company during the 1980s, marked by Zuckowski’s incomparable oeuvre (Wie schön, dass Du geboren bist; In der Weihnachtsbäckerei), which has meanwhile become as well known as folksongs.

Parallel to the activities in entertainment music, however, the publishers also set out for new shores. The first works of serious music were taken up by the publishing company, by composers such as Walter Abendroth, Theodor Berger, Ilse Fromm-Michaels, Ernst Gernot Klussmann and Hans Poser. Later on, authors such as Ulrich Leyendecker, Rolf Liebermann, Jan Müller-Wieland, Jens-Peter Ostendorf, Peter Ruzicka, Manfred Trojahn and Wolfgang von Schweinitz found their way into the publishing programme.

Contacts with the former Soviet Union had already been made during the 1950s. Building upon the rich Russian musical tradition, many gifted composers lived there whose works could be taken on by the publishers after long negotiations with Soviet foreign trade organisations. Names such as Aram Khachaturian, Dmitri Kabalevsky, Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich became more strongly rooted in the consciousness of Western musical life through the publication of their works. A remarkable music-historical achievement took place in 1979 with the publication of the formerly banned original version of the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Dmitri Shostakovich. This opera, meanwhile, is undisputedly considered one of the outstanding music-dramatic works of the 20th century.

The publishers also succeeded in making the next generation of composers known to a wide public, including the composer-troika Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina and Edison Denissov, but also Giya Kancheli, Galina Ustvolskaya, Rodion Shchedrin and Grigori Frid. Taken all together, these activities led to the fact that the publishers do not merely have an elementary point of emphasis on the furtherance of contemporary music in the entire spectrum from chamber and orchestral music to grand opera, but that the publisher’s name of Sikorski meanwhile stands as a synonym for modern Russian music in the broadest sense.

And today, as well, the repertoire is carefully but constantly being expanded, not only in the East European and Russian area with Frangis Ali-Zadeh, Lera Auerbach, Milko Kelemen and Benjamin Yusupov, but also in the German-speaking area with Moritz Eggert, Johannes Harneit, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Daniel Smutny, Johannes X. Schachtner and Linard Bardill in the area of children’s music. In addition, the continuity of the international activities of the Sikorski Publishing House is underpinned in the Asian area with Xiaoyong Chen, Lin Yang, Guoping Jia and Wenchen Qin as well as the acceptance for publication of the Catalonian Ferran Cruixent, the Serbian Marko Nikodijevic, Gerald Resch from Austria and the Finnish composer Osmo Tapio Räihälä.

The many-sidedness of the publishers’ repertoire, with its equally important emphasis on entertainment music and serious music, remains a special characteristic of the music publishers’ group. The same applies to the close bonds and long-term friendships which could be built up with the published composers, encouraged by the fact that the publishing company is not only, to the present day, in family possession, but that, moreover, it has been and continues to be directed exclusively by family members.

The Sikorski Music Publishers today, as independent or allied publishing enterprises, comprise the International Music Publishers Hans Sikorski with Arcona, Connelly, Hans Sikorski Music Publishers, Papageno and Tempoton, the Theatre and Music Publishers Hans Sikorski with Arcadia, Beboton, Cineton, Musik für Dich Rolf Zuckowski and Neuer Theaterverlag, as well as Alexis, Araldoton, Edition Esplanade, Goldy and MOP. Numerous instances of close cooperation with publishing houses in the USA, England, France, Italy and Japan have continued for decades. In addition, Sikorski administers the hire library of the Music Sales Group companies and hence the rental catalogues of prestigious foreign publishing companies such as Chester Music, Novello & Company (both in London), G. Schirmer (New York), Edition Wilhelm Hansen (Copenhagen) and Union Musical Ediciones (Madrid).