‘All of these best-selling titles come from the first 10 years of the label and feature our most successful artists. This compilation is a tribute to all the artists who made the success of Naxos possible in the early days of the label.’ – Klaus Heymann
Sydney on the verge of another Spring: as the setting sun shot the harbour with sparkling silver highlights, the skyscrapers burst into light, and throngs of workers headed for home (or the nearest pub), Select Audio-Visual Distribution’s Naxos 25th Anniversary Celebration swung into gear atop the newly refurbished Museum of Contemporary Art, facing the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House across Circular Quay.
Industry and media representatives, local artists, Australian retailers and other VIP guests welcomed guests of honour Klaus Heymann and Takako Nishizaki with glasses of champagne (tinged a tasteful Naxos Blue for the occasion) and many congratulations for their extraordinary dedication over a quarter of a century to make Naxos the world’s leading classical music label and digital music provider.
Select’s MD Andrew McKeich opened the formal proceedings and invited Klaus to address the guests before eminent Australian musician (and now vigneron) Nathan Waks reminisced about Naxos’s amazing achievement and promising future. Young guitarist Zane Banks played live an excerpt from George Lentz’s Ingwe, an incredible hour-long tour-de-force for solo electric guitar to a stunned audience. Select invited Zane in order to make a statement about ‘classical’ music: Mozart string quartets are indeed fine background music, but we wanted – and received – strikingly contemporary music for this special night.
And as the night ended and fond farewells were made, it was clear that the 25 years of company history to date were merely the beginning. While the classical music world embraces the digital music revolution, Naxos has already positioned itself as a world leader in the new technological realm just as, 25 years ago, it took the classical music industry quietly by storm and revolutionised the physical trade. Naxos, too, is on the verge of another Spring.
Simon Selby, Kathry Selby, Klaus
Beverley Gray, Laura Nicotera, Renee Carter (Select Staff )
Klaus & Takako
Nathan Waks during speech
Klaus, Jennifer Balint, Dave Clarke, Andrew McKeich
Tim Mathies (Musica Viva) & Lyle Chan
Zane Banks performing
Tony Pecotic (Select Staff ) & Alexie Thompson
Shane Clancy (Library AV ), Amy Isokov (JB Hi-Fi )
Naxos 25th Anniversary Cake
The French celebration of the 25th Naxos anniversary commenced with the participation at MUSICORA, a classical music exhibition just re-launched and held at the prestigious Palais Brongniart in the heart of Paris.
Naxos displayed an impressive offering of 7,000 titles for the public, including products of labels distributed by Naxos and Abeille Musique , an offer that far outnumbered those of the competitors participating at the same event. This indicator proved that Naxos and Abeille Musique are key players in the distribution of independent labels in France.
Following the exhibition, founder and chairman of the Naxos Group, Klaus Heymann, gave a key-note speech. It was a lively affair joined by local journalists, musicians, composers, and Naxos enthusiasts. The speech was followed by a “meet and greet” and interviews with France Musique, Le Figaro, Le Nouvel Observateur, Classiquenews.com, Resmusica.com, Diapason, Classica, Pianiste, Jejouedupiano.com, and Qobuz, and others.
The 25th anniversary celebration in Paris culminated in an evening party held at Hôtel Dosne-Thiers. Conductor Jun Märkl was the guest of honour, having recently completed his cycle of Debussy’s orchestral music with the Lyon National Orchestra for Naxos. Also present was Jean-Claude Casadesus, the chief conductor of the Lille National Orchestra, who has a long and successful recording collaboration with Naxos. Klaus Heymann shared the story of Naxos and his vision on the future of the classical recording industry, followed by a speech from Yves Riesel, president of Abeille Musique.
It was a joyous occasion celebrated in a friendly and celebratory atmosphere!
Jun Märkl, Takako Nishizaki & Klaus Heymann / credit Jean-Baptiste Millot
Klaus Heymann at France Musique
Klaus Heymann with Classica chief editor Bertrand Dermoncourt and Pianiste editor Stéphane Friedrich
The Japan leg of the Naxos 25th anniversary celebrations took place in Tokyo from 24-26 October, 2012, comprising a happy mix of formal occasions and more relaxed events.
OTTAVA, the capital’s classical music internet radio station, featured an interview with Klaus Heymann during a two-hour special in which the company’s achievements were duly documented. Listeners gave The Essence of Naxos such a favourable reception that highlights were subsequently re-broadcast and then archived by the station. The interview can be heard on the Naxos Japan web-page.
Day 2 kicked off with a lively press conference at which reporters from around sixty journals and magazines fired off questions to Mr Heymann in response to his summary of the Naxos history and business strategy: future developments in digital distribution and high-resolution software were popular topics. The event culminated in a lively lunch party for the media and business representatives in attendance.
The evening’s festivities were organised on a more intimate scale, in a party restricted to Naxos Japan employees and designed to extend not only hospitality to Mr Heymann and his family but also sincere appreciation for all their endeavours.
The Senzoku Gakuen College of Music was the location for the final day’s events. The country’s leading music college presented Mr Heymann with a special award in recognition of his significant contribution to the world of music. Students hung on every word of his speech that followed; let’s hope they will become confirmed Naxos fans in the near future.
Naxos Japan employees were grateful both for the opportunity to meet Mr Heymann in person and for the positive motivation the occasion left in its wake.
[Ryoichi Shirayanagi, Naxos Japan]
In session at OTTAVA Radio
Opening the media conference
Teaming up for the next 25 years
Addressing students at the Senzoku Gakuen College of Music
Not only is September the beginning of the 4th quarter and the time when our biggest releases of the year need to be promoted, but it was also Naxos of America’s turn to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Naxos with Klaus, Takako, and Rick. A grand tour of North America was in order and was filled with meetings, interviews, and congratulatory events.
The first took place in Los Angeles, and although the first night’s sleep in California was interrupted by an earthquake, a spectacular time was had at the CB1 Art Gallery. Artist Jaime Scholnick’s works were displayed in the gallery, including one “Naxos blue” piece which stood directly in the entrance. Klaus, Takao and Rick welcomed guests and Jim Selby joined Klaus for a speech and toast later in the evening.
Next, the festivities moved to Nashville, home of Naxos of America. While in Middle Tennessee, Klaus enjoyed a luncheon at the NoA offices to which all employees were invited. That evening, Takako presented a masterclass at the WO Smith Music School. Students, parents, and other Suzuki method teachers were on hand to learn from her.
The Nashville celebration took place at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. In attendance were dozens of Naxos employees, press, Nashville Symphony staff, and even the mayor of Nashville, Karl Dean. Afterwards, Klaus, Takako, and Rick enjoyed the opening performance of the GRAMMY® winning Nashville Symphony’s 2012–2013 season with Mahler Symphony No 8 ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero. Klaus’ time in Nashville was concluded by a day of internal meetings at the NoA offices in Franklin, Tennessee. After some meetings and a press meet-and-greet in Washington DC, the celebration journeyed to New York City. There Klaus welcomed hundreds of guests to Steinway Hall including artists, composers, retailers, and business associates. Naxos artist and pianist Philip Edward Fisher performed pieces of Sibelius, Chopin, Hickey, and Rimsky-Korsakov/Rachmaninov.
Klaus and Takako also signed many copies of The Story of Naxos at the Juilliard Bookstore while in NYC.
The Baltimore Symphony invited Naxos to be a part of its season-opening event in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the label. The BSO and conductor Marin Alsop performed a gala concert with soprano Reneé Fleming including pieces like ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Gianni Schicchi, ‘Vissi d’arte, vissi d'amore’ from Tosca and Dvořák’s ‘Song to the Moon’ from Rusalka, as well as selections by the great musical theater composer/lyricist team Rodgers & Hammerstein. This was followed by a gala reception.
The last stop on the North American 25th anniversary voyage was Toronto. Klaus and Takako did a book signing at L’Atelier Grigorian. An anniversary event was held at the beautiful Massey College and was hosted by Elora Festival Singers artistic director Noel Edison.
In two and a half weeks, Klaus, Takako and Rick traveled 3,500 miles on the continent of North America and attended over 50 events, meetings and interviews. It was a pleasure to have them here with us and Naxos of America looks forward to helping to ensure that the company remains for another 25 years and beyond.
Baltimore event with Marin Alsop
left to right – Klaus, Mayor Karl Dean, Giancarlo Guerrero, Alan Valentine (executive director of the Nashville Symphony) and Jim Selby
left to right: Kenneth Fuchs (composer), Robert White (tenor), Paul Moravec (composer), Frank Oteri (composer; editor - NewMusicBox), Klaus, Michael Spudic (ASCAP), John Corigliano (composer), Lowell Liebermann (composer) and Sean Hickey (composer and NoA manager of Sales and Business Development)
NYC Juilliard Bookstore signing
Naxos artist and pianist Philip Edward Fisher performs pieces of Sibelius, Chopin, Hickey, and Rimsky-Korsakov/Rachmaninov
On Thursday 10 May, Naxos UK kicked off the 25th anniversary celebrations with a party at the lavish Goldsmiths’ Hall in London. Attended by music critics, Naxos staff, Naxos artists and Klaus Heymann with his wife Takako, the evening was also used to launch the new book The Story of Naxos. The highlight of the evening was, without doubt, the speech given by the great British actor and Naxos artist, Simon Callow. His kind words about the label were followed by a speech from Klaus, finishing with him and Takako cutting the specially designed Naxos cake. Guests were given a personalised bottle of champagne branded with the Naxos logo as they left, rounding off the evening in style!
Simon Callow’s Full Speech
I’m honoured and delighted to be here on this joyous occasion. It’s a bit of a flying visit, because I’ve made a number of recordings for Naxos, and you’ll appreciate that my earnings from them have forced me into tax exile status. No, but seriously: it is an honour to be asked to say something in celebration of a quarter of a century of Naxos, but I do so less as an employee than as a customer. Like many people in this room tonight, I started collecting gramophone records in the 1960’s when I was but an impoverished lad earning a few pence for sweeping chimneys or gouging the stones out of horses hooves—well, perhaps it wasn’t quite that long ago, but it certainly seems it. In those days if you suffered from the dangerous and—scientists now admit—largely incurable addiction to recorded music, you either bought your records second-hand (in which case you heard the music through an almost futuristic veil of pops, clicks, and unwritten glissandi when the needle leaped out of the groove and skidded across whole pages of the score) or you bought the products of one of the bargain labels like Allegro, or Woolworth’s own label, Hallmark, or Saga, or Delta, who were responsible for many noble recordings but were not above passing off pirate recordings, especially of the standard repertory, under outrageous pseudonyms. The one I particularly remember, attached to a recording of Brahms’s 1st Symphony, was attributed to a conductor whose last name was spelt Havergesse. Wilhelm Have A Guess. But Havergesse had to do. Anything else was prohibitively expensive and too good, I felt, for the likes of me.
Anyway, time rolled on, one started to earn what was then called proper money—and what in fact then WAS—proper money, and one started to buy the much grander products of the Major Recording Companies, which came out at regular intervals, unveiled with a kind of Religious Solemnity, by the Archimandrites and Lateran Bishops of the Industry the air heavy with incense and accompanied by low chanting and murmured cries of hallelujah. One almost genuflected as one purchased these sacred objects. And very good they were too, in many cases, but was reverence the ideal attitude in which to listen to music, which after all arises out of many warring and explosive elements, and is above all one of the lively arts? Anyway, their days were numbered, the Cardinals and the Monsignors of Recording, the tumbrils were rolling by, and a new, altogether less formal dispensation followed in which the small labels inherited the earth. And in due course—25 years ago, to be precise—lo, out of the East, a new CD label was born, in white boxes adorned with fine art reproductions, and heavenly choirs did NOT, at first sing in welcome of the new babe: it seemed at times that we were back to Delta and Saga at their naughtiest: to my subsequent shame I confess that for quite a long time I thought the name Capella Istropolitana was a coded joke or perhaps an anagram. Anyway, I thought snootily, this is all standard repertory stuff, I scarcely need trouble myself with it, though I might have paused to notice that they were all newly recorded, and that among the names attached [to the to me ]so hilarious Capella Istropolitana—to which fine ensemble, one of the many jewels of musical life in Bratislava, I here apologise, formally and humbly, by the way—were such known and admired figures as our own, our very own much-loved Barry Wordsworth. But I didn’t; I didn’t notice; it was all beneath my attention.
Then I blinked, and suddenly, only a couple of years later, I took a patronising and cursory glance at a Naxos stack in a record shop—when there still was a connoisseur record shop in every town—it brings a tear to your eye to think of it—and there spread out in front of me was a simply extraordinary repertory of work in every genre, from across the ages, and from every nation on the face of the earth, newly recorded, by instantly recognisable artists, many of them among the most exciting new performers of their time. There were whole cycles of symphonies, quartets, sonatas; there were operas; there were entire ballets. Then there were deceased catalogues—Collins’s wonderful list, for example—absorbed into the current list and allowed to live again, or Bob Craft’s wonderful series, weirdly entitled Stravinsky the Composer—as opposed perhaps to Stravinsky the chartered accountant? And the superb series of re-mastered historical and often historic LPs. And Spoken Word, done with such ambition and such style and on such a scale.
I walked away from that shop weighed down with more than a dozen CDs, and I daresay not a week has gone by since then without my buying another Naxos. Or two. Or twelve. Especially touring the country, as I have been forced to do—sorry, which it is my supreme pleasure to do—there’s nothing that cheers one up quite like buying a couple of CDs to listen to in the dressing Room—the latest Maxwell Davies Quartet; gems of Yiddish Music Theatre; my old chum José Serebrier conducting Stokowski transcriptions; Joseph Holbrooke’s Violin Concerto; piano concertos from Azerbaijan; and for a little light relief the complete War and Peace read by Neville Jason. All these extraordinary and unprecedented things—and what I have described is the merest sliver of what’s on offer—brought to life for us at a knockdown price by this remarkable company and this remarkable man, immeasurably enriching the quality of our lives, increasing our understanding of the phenomenal diversity of music itself, introducing us to countless musicians of which, in the Good Old Bad Old Days, we might never have heard.
As I read Nicolas Soames’s compelling account of the company and the man who made it—it’s a wonderful, illuminating read—I was struck by two things about the story of this shrewd, determined, brilliant and original man, Klaus Heymann—one is that his involvement in making records started with live music, arranging concerts in Hong Kong—that music as a living, breathing, spontaneous event is behind everything he has done in and for the recording industry, and it is no surprise that in Takako Nishizaki he has a living breathing musician at his side; but also that like me, like the vast majority of his customers, though he loves music and is deeply knowledgeable about it, he can neither read nor play it. So if he wants to hear something, he must get someone to play it for him. So much of the vast and fascinating repertory he has explored, both on the Marco Polo label and for Naxos is music that most of us have only, frustratingly, been able to read about. In that sense, and maybe not only in that sense, he resembles a great Renaissance prince, commanding performances of the music he wants to hear, by the artists he wants to hear performing it. The difference is that he has invited us all into his Palace of Sound and Words. That buzzword of yesteryear comes to mind: Access. Access to that Aladdin’s Cave that is the history of music—access for anyone who can rustle up £6.99. So, ladies and gentlemen, with great respect and deep gratitude, I give you Naxos—one of the many fascinating nuggets in Nic Soames’s book tells us that if things had turned out slightly differently, I so nearly might have been giving you Lesbos—I give you Naxos, but above all I give you the man who is Naxos, Klaus Heymann.
The Independent interviews Naxos founder & chairman Klaus Heymann
Klaus Heymann & wife Takako Nishizaki
Specially designed Naxos cake
Nicolas Soames author of the new book The Story of Naxos