Josef Eberle & Co. – Erste Wiener Zeitungs-Gesellschaft – Waldheim-Eberle
Das klagende Lied
Lieder aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 4
For a period of more than ten years the owner of the copyrights in Mahler's music was a company whose name never appeared on his scores, the Erste Wiener Zeitungsgesellschaft (hereafter EWZG), one of the largest printing and publishing concerns in Vienna, and indeed, one of Austria's major corporations: it was the music department of one of its subsidiaries, Josef Eberle & Co that prepared and printed the works. The range of this conglomerate's activity as a printer can be gained from the list included in its entry in the report on the Internationale Ausstellung für Buchgewebe und Graphik held in Leipzig in 1914–15 (APOV, 103–4):
The history of these businesses is complex and closely interwoven with those of Mahler's other publishers. One of the leading personalities involved was Josef Eberle (24 January 1845–13 January 1921), born in Falkenau an der Eger (Bohemia; now Sokolow in the Czech Republic). Trained as a lithographer by an uncle in Germany, he reportedly founded his own printing company in Vienna in 1873 and having initially provided only decorative title pages for editions of printed music, by the end of the decade he was printing the music as well (ADFJD, passim; PBFU, passim). There is no evidence that Eberle had any musical training, but he was ambitious and also an innovator: he was probably the first Austrian printer to adopt the technique of printing music by transfer lithography from engraved plates, a process which, like his technique of Brennätzverfahren for improving the robustness of lithographic plates, permitted significantly larger print runs derived from the original engraved plates. Without these techniques the international growth of Austrian music publishing, and the establishment of Universal Edition, would not have been possible.
By c. 1877 Eberle was married to Leopoldine Stritzko (7 August 1859–?after 1940), the daughter of a linen merchant, Leopold Stritzko, and sister of the musician and businessman, Josef Stritzko (17 April 1861–8 March 1908) who later played an important role within Jos. Eberle & Co. Josef and Leopoldine had two daughters, Josefine (23 September 1878–06 August 1970) and Christine (26 September1879–8 October 1964), who would eventually inherit the family business.
By the late 1880s Jos. Eberle & Co. was an important printing company – its Musikaliendruckerei was probably the largest in the Dual Monarchy and was also a major manufacturer of manuscript paper – so, perhaps not surprisingly, Eberle branched out into music publishing. The earliest announcement of this new venture appeared in the autumn of 1887 (OBC 28/41 (8 October 1887), 527):
When the first volumes began to appear in early 1888 it became clear that this was a very unusual venture: by the 1880s very few Austrian publishers included a substantial repertoire of serious music in their lists, but relied instead on operetta extracts, dance and other forms of popular music as the main source of income. Eberle's venture eschewed such repertoire, with the sole exception of a complete edition of the music of Josef Lanner (already a 'classic' of popular culture), edited by Eduard Kremser. Such a reliance on serious music at the start of what must have been an expensive project, proved to be a costly mistake: after the publication of 33 volumes the series was wound up and the rights of some volumes sold or licensed to Breitkopf & Härtel or Augener. Sales had evidently been miniscule and few copies of the volumes survive in libraries. At the same time, in 1888, Eberle also took over as the publisher of An die schönen blauen Donau, a literary periodical which included some authors - such as Artur Schnitzler and Hugo von Hofmannsthal - who were are the start of their very distinguished careers. This seems to have been part of a serious attempt to establish the firm as a publisher, and also to have a medium that could be used to offer modest support of the company's music publishing venture. When the latter failed, Eberle quickly disposed of his interests in the magazine.
Despite these setbacks, Eberle was not discouraged and by 1892 his firm was in negotiation over a contract with Anton Bruckner, which ultimately bore more significant fruit (see below). Moreover, in the same year a new corporation, the Erste Wiener Zeitungsgesellschaft, was created with the primary aim of printing and publishing the large circulation tabloid newspaper, the Illustriertes Wiener Extrablatt, and one of the non-executive directors of the new company was Josef Eberle, presumably reflecting positive assessments of his technical and business acumen. On the other hand, his particular experience lay in very specialised areas of printing not obviously relevant to EWZG's existing core business: it seems likely that it was the intention for the company to expand into other areas of printing. Whatever the motivation, in late 1894 EWZG bought Jos. Eberle & Co for the equivalent of about £3,000,000 today: Eberle remained on the EWZG board and his firm's name was retained for the specialist business it undertook:
Headed paper of Jos. Eberle & Co., c. 1896
The connection with EWZG is somewhat understated. Josef Eberle had acquired the printing company Reiffenstein & Uhl in 1891.
Further evidence of a coherent strategy on the part of the EWZG Board can be discerned in the acquisition in 1895 of an older, highly respected printing firm that had no interests in music, but specialised in a number of areas of printing that complimented Eberle's expertise. Rudolf v. Waldheim (1832–1890) was trained (notably in woodcutting) at the Staatsdruckerei in Vienna, and with F.W. Bader formed R. v. Waldheims Xylographische Anstalt in 1855 (ADFJD, II, 200–3). Unlike Eberle, Waldheim made a number of early attempts to publish illustrated newspapers – Mußestunden (1859–63), Waldheims illustrierte Zeitung (1862–3), Waldheims illustrierte Blätter (1864–6), Neue illustrierte Zeitung and most successfully Figaro (1857–1919). If this side of the business was not a huge success, the firm flourished overall: by 1876 Waldheim was using a wide range of processes (typography, lithography, woodcuts and stereotyping among them) with a workforce of about 250, 22 Schnellpressen and 40 Handpressen, and was printing a number of periodicals on contract. In the years that followed the EWZG board sought to merge the operations of both specialist departments on the Seidengasse site, but this evidently lead to tensions in the senior management team and the resignation of Eberle in January 1898. Within a matter of months he had re-established himself in a new business as a letter-press and lithographic printer and was soon printing and publishing music, and manufacturing manuscript paper. This time his music publishing business focussed on light and popular music, though he did include a few early works by composers such as Franz Schmidt and Franz Schreker in his list (PBFU, passim), and the printing business seems to have flourished, requiring a work force of 91 by 1907 (ADFJD, II, 208), making it one of the larger privately owned printing firms in the Dual Monarchy. By the time of his death in January 1921, Eberle was a highly respected member of the print industry (see RWWS 28–9): the firm remained in the family and, as the Austrian National Library's collection of posters attests, was still active in the field of lithography until at least the early 1980s.
Meanwhile, back at Seidengasse, the Erste Wiener Zeitungsgesellschaft was developing in unexpected directions: the profit from the publication of the Illustriertes Wiener Extrablatt was declining while the printing side was apparently flourishing, notably Jos. Eberle & Co.'s music printing business which benefitted enormously from its position as the sole printer used for the first phase of publication by Universal-Edition (1901–3). Despite these trends, the decision taken in 1905 to sell the newspaper was a radical one, involving a substantial financial loss and encouraging a change of company name to: 'Druckerei- und Verlags-Actiengesellschaft, vorm. R. v. Waldheim, Jos. Eberle & Co' agreed at the AGM on 23 March 1906 (OBDZ (29 March 1906), 169; for a facsimile of the undated circular announcing the change, see GMBsV, 32). This cumbersome formulation at least had the merit of referring to the two best-known trade names associated with the corporation: it was formally reduced to the more manageable 'Waldheim-Eberle A.G.' in about 1915, though this had been used unofficially even before 1906 and is adopted where appropriate in the narrative that follows.
The chief source of information about the negotiations in 1892 between Bruckner and Eberle is the Göllerich-Auer biography of the composer, and although no sources are cited, the related anecdotes suggest strongly that it was founded at least in part on details provided by one of the participants, Josef Stritzko (1861–1908) (see GAAB, IV/3, 256–62; for a complete transcription and English translation of the passage (including the text of the contract), click here):
The account is of great interest, but needs to be treated with a little caution as some of the information is incorrect, and other details have so far resisted confirmation from contemporary sources: the biographies and obituaries of Josef Stritzko fail to refer to his putative studies with Bruckner. However, it is clear that the negotiations must have begun at least a couple of months earlier since Max Oberleithner referred to the contract (rather ineptly, one might think) in a letter to Schott, dated, 27 May 1892, that attempted to interest the company in publishing the First Symphony (FSABC, I, 675). The identity of members of the group of major industrialists who were initially envisaged as providing the subsidy is not revealed, but it must be wondered whether this was the consortium of admirers who provided the composer with an annual honorarium from 1890 onwards (see GAAB, IV/3, 55ff.). The motives that lay behind Josef Eberle's decision that in the absence of such a subsidy he would bear the printing costs – as direct patronage, a commercial project or a mixture of the two – remains unclear, but this was a major financial undertaking (see also PBFU, passimm). The details of the estimated printed costs is particularly valuable, giving the unit costs as just under 7 fl for the score and just over 14 fl for a set of parts: when published in 1893 the retail prices were 18 fl for both formats.
The final contract with Jos. Eberle & Co., signed on 14 July, makes no reference to the distribution of the works: in fact they were published (on commission) by Doblinger in the years between 1892 and 1899. In this context the publication and first complete performance of the Sixth Symphony, in 1899, reflects a nexus of personal, professional and commercial relationships within the relatively circumscribed world of high art in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Published by a ex-student of the Vienna Conservatoire, Stritzko, it was first heard at a Philharmonic concert on 26 February 1899 conducted by a fellow admirer, Gustav Mahler, whose first three symphonies (and probably Das klagende Lied and the Wunderhornlieder) had already been acquired for EWZG by Stritzko; three years later the latter would also publish (and Doblinger would distribute) Mahler's Fourth Symphony.
Jos.Eberle & Co. headed paper, c. 1899
Erste Wiener Zeitungs-Gesellschaft and Mahler – the first contacts
Initially Mahler's association with Jos. Eberle & Co. (by then a subsidiary of EWZG) was the result of the efforts on his behalf by one of the friends of his student years, Guido Adler (1855–1941), who had been appointed Professor of Musicology at the German University in Prague in 1885. (For a full discussion of their relationship, see ERGA.) It was almost certainly Adler who came up with the plan to request financial support for the publication of the First and Third symphonies (full scores, parts and piano duet arrangements) and the Second Symphony (parts) from the Gesellschaft zur Förderung deutscher Wissenschaft, Kunst und Literatur in Böhmen). Apart from the publications themselves – some issues of which acknowledge the financial support – relatively few documents have been located that trace this process. Of greatest significance are the two reports that Adler submitted to the Gesellschaft, dated 23 and 24 January 1898 (drafts of which are now in the Papers of Guido Adler, US-ATS). These have not been published in full, but are summarised in ERGA (pp. 88–90) and extracts of the second are transcribed and translated in KBME (p. 216), including the details of the costs involved, and Adler's specific proposals for payment and acknowledgement:
To put the production costs into some sort of perspective, the total was worth about $5784 (ERGA, 139, n. 37), or more pertinently, it was exactly Mahler's starting annual salary at the Hofoper (HLGII, 53).
Clearly there must have been substantive discussions between Adler and Jos. Eberle & Co. – presumably represented by Josef Stritzko, since by this time Josef Eberle had been replaced as manager of Jos. Eberle & Co., and was about to resign from the EWZG board – sometime prior to his drafting of the references, and there would have been ample opportunity for him to raise the matter with the company since it was responsible for the production of the Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich, published by C.A. Artaria under his editorship. Mahler was drawn into this additional nexus of relationships when, on Adler's recommendation, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the series in 1898, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Brahms. As might have been expected, Mahler was not hugely excited by meetings of the Board, as he made clear in a discussion about the series on 1 January 1900. Mahler was spending the day at an inn at Rodaun, on the road to Mödling, and in the evening Stritzko dropped in for a chat, during which the composer opined that the Denkmäler series 'contained only "mediocrities of the last century" on which he considered it a shame to spend so much money.' (an unpublished section of Natalie Bauer-Lechner's diary, cited in HLG11, 544).
The negotiations in 1897–8 for the grant application and associated publishing plans must also have involved discussions between Adler and Mahler. A brief note from the composer to his friend and lawyer, Emil Freund, probably refers to the preparation of Adler's references (GMB, 257; GMSLL, 226): 'Adler has just written to say that if he does not receive my curriculum vitae within the next two days, the [whole undertaking] will have to be put off until the autumn.' This note was undated, but the original edition offers '1897' and GMSL refines this to Spring 1897. The latter seems unlikely: sometime rather later that year or even early January 1898 seems more probable. Nevertheless there must have been some assurances given even before Adler's references were submitted, since Natalie Bauer-Lechner recorded that by New Year's Eve, 1897, Mahler was celebrating the prospect of the publication of the works (NBL2, 109; NBLE, 109–10):
The reference to 'Klavierauszüge' seems to relate to the piano duet arrangements of all three symphonies that were indeed issued, although they were not referred to in Adler's reference. The first editions of the arrangements of the first two symphonies carry appropriate acknowledgments, but none appears on that of the Third – presumably an oversight.
Although we know quite a lot about the terms of the subsidy, the final text of Mahler's contract with the EWZG has not been located, so it is fortunate that a working draft, which dates from late 1897/early 1898, has recently come to light. Exactly how this differed from the contract as signed on 12 August 1898, cannot be verified, but there are some clues to the latter's content.¹ One of the provisions of the draft (paragraph 9) was that Mahler granted EWZG the option of first refusal on the rights of reproduction, publication and of the marketing (publishing rights) in all musical works which he might compose in the future,² and this was one of the issues that Mahler raised with his friend and lawyer Emil Freund in 1903 when Peters Editionsverlag expressed some interest in the Fifth Symphony in 1903 (GMB, 258–9; GMSL, 270):
No evidence has come to light to suggest that EWZG retained an interest in the publication of music following Josef Eberle's departure, which may explain why this particular provision was waived so readily in 1903. Further insight can be gleaned from a letter written by Mahler to an unidentified publisher (almost certainly the Berlin firm of Lauterbach and Kuhn) which apparently dates from the summer of 1908, and in which he offers them the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies (AMGM, 412; AMGME3, 307–8):
Of course Mahler is being disingenuous. Some of the early EWZG publications had been supported by financial subsidy, and Alma Mahler remembered another element in the arrangement with the company (AMGM, 412; AMGME3, 176):
If Alma's memory was correct, Jos. Eberle & Co. had estimated the production costs costs (not specified in the draft contract) for the four Symphonies (but possibly also the Wunderhornlieder and Das klagende Lied as well, as these were also Waldheim-Eberle publications taken over by Universal Edition in 1910), at 25,000 Fl., compared with the 12,000 Fl. Adler had quoted for the production costs of the First and Third Symphonies and the parts for the Second. This provision is broadly similar to one in Bruckner's contract with Eberle & Co., though the subsidy that was forthcoming for Mahler was well below the subventions of up to 50% of the costs of Bruckner's Symphonies that were envisaged. In one sense Mahler had a better deal, in that he was nevertheless entitled to the same percentage of any profits as Bruckner, but on the other hand the draft makes no reference to an annual retainer comparable to that due to Bruckner. In both contracts there was also a provision for a regular statement of accounts to be submitted to the composer, though curiously both Mahler and EWZG/Waldheim-Eberle seem to have forgotten about this at different times (see below).
There are some anomalies early in the sequence of numbers, at least in part the result of the fact that it was incorporating the three printed formats of the Second that had been published by Friedrich Hofmeister on commission in 1895–7 (Table 2).
Hofmeister seems not to have issued any material for the work with a plate number ‘2’, though this may have been notionally assigned to the parts. It would appear that Eberle decided to simply retain the original plate numbers for new printings of the other Hofmeister items, though a Titelauflage or new edition of the arrangement for two pianos was never issued – presumably because sales had not been large enough.
Otherwise, Eberle/EWZG assigned plate numbers for the publications associated with each symphony in a relatively systematic way, score, parts and arrangements in that order: the arrangement Hofmeister had probably planned for the Second Symphony. It is therefore particularly curious that Eberle did not use the vacant ‘2’ for the orchestral and choral parts, but instead used the ‘4’ already assigned to the vocal score of Urlicht (though there is a logic in this: all three publications could be conceived as ‘performance material’ for the Symphony). EWZG also commissioned and published an arrangement of the Second Symphony for piano duet and, logically, assigned it the next number in the sequence, '5'.
The parts and duet arrangement of the First Symphony carry the numbers '7' and '8' respectively, but inexplicably the number ‘1’ was used on the plates for the full score – so there were now two Mahler publications with this number in the Weinberger catalogue. The error was eventually corrected in 1906 when Universal Edition was licensed to issue study scores of the first four symphonies: all were photo-lithographically reduced from revised states of the full score plates. Symphonies 2, 3 and 4 retained the plate numbers of the full scores; for the study score of the First Symphony the 'correct' plate number ‘6’ was adopted. It may be that a simple error also accounts for the final anomaly: it would seem that the plate number for the parts for the Fourth Symphony should have been '32', but they were actually assigned a number in the Doblinger sequence (D. 2720).
All this publishing activity left relatively few traces in Mahler's surviving correspondence, but at some stage he replied to J.V. von Wöss in connection with the score of the Second Symphony (unpublished letter; see GMS2Fac, 93):
The published summary of the letter quoted above is dated '1897' but it's not clear what the status of this date is. Von Wöss was a proof-reader in the music department of Jos. Eberle & Co / Waldheim Eberle from 1889 until 1907 (he joined Universal Edition in 1908) and might well have been involved in both the preparation of the second edition of the full score and the first edition of the parts, but not until somewhat later than 1897 – i.e. after the award of the subsidy had set the project in motion in 1898. In the event none of the errors that Mahler discusses were corrected in PF2, but they were in PS1, which suggests that the correspondence may date from late 1905-early 1906.
Apart from von Wöss, for whom Mahler had considerable professional respect, his only other significant personal contact at EWZG was with Stritzko himself, and in his first letter to his sister Justine after his marriage – while on his honeymoon/concert tour in St Petersburg in March 1902 – Mahler requested that she send both of them copies of the announcement of his marriage to Alma Schindler (GMLJ, 503; GMLJE, 369); and Stritzko was a close enough acquaintance to meet Mahler for a New Year's Day chat in 1900 (see above).
Seven years later, after Stritzko's death, the problem persisted and Mahler wrote to his lawyer, Emil Freund, on 3 February 1910 with a request that he contact the firm - by now Waldheim-Eberle - to resolve the matter (GMB, 451; GMSL, 351):
In fact the issue was about to be made redundant by the transfer of all of Waldheim-Eberle's rights in Mahler's works to Universal Edition.
EWZG had been one of the Viennese publishers involved in the creation of UE in 1901, and was the main printer used by the new company; then in 1906 Waldheim-Eberle licensed Universal Edition to distribute study scores of the first four Mahler symphonies (a format Weinberger and Doblinger had not employed for these works) and the piano duet arrangements (which those firms had printed under their own imprints – see the Weinberger and Universal Edition pages for further details of these transactions). At this stage the works were still part of the Waldheim-Eberle portfolio, and when reprinted by UE in the period 1906–10 the various publications mostly retained their original plate numbers (see above). This first phase was apparently to be followed in 1908 by a second phase of licence transfers relating to Mahler's music. The UE Verlagsbuch reveals that a block of four UE Edition numbers were assigned in that year:
The immediately adjacent items in the Edition number sequence on either side of this block are in a fairly consistent chronological order (the next two items were first ordered in September 1908), so it appears that after the edition numbers were assigned to the Mahler publications there were delays or postponements in the ordering of all four. Of these the first, and least delayed, was the song cycle owned by Weinberger; the other three items were works owned by Waldheim-Eberle but published on commission by Weinberger, and the first UE printings were not ordered for two years. Why the delay? At present no obvious explanation presents itself, but it might be wondered whether it was in any way connected with Josef Stritzko's departure from Waldheim-Eberle (and subsequent death) early in 1908. It might also be tempting to link their eventual publication in 1910 with the wholesale acquisition of Waldheim-Eberle's Mahler rights by UE in that year, but Mahler did not agree to the transfer until August 1910 and it is striking that all the other works transferred to UE made their first appearance in the Verlagsbuch in November 1910. There is one other piece of evidence for planning at about this time for a new Mahler issue, though not one reflected in the UE Verlagsbuch. A set of proofs of the Second Symphony (APPr) were run off, probably in May 1908, and revised by Mahler. Again nothing immediately resulted from this activity and it was not until 1913 that a second edition of the full score was published.
Clearly the 1908 Verlagsbuch entries and the Second Symphony proofs are mere traces of more complex commercial strategies and decisions which will only be elucidated if further documents come to light. Equally obscure are the motivations behind Waldheim-Eberle's decision in 1910 to transfer the rights the company held in Bruckner and Mahler to Universal Edition at a moment when – it turns out – the Mahler publications were about to come into profit. However, their acquisition by UE was entirely in line with the catalogue development policy of the managing director of that company, Emil Hertzka, so perhaps he made Waldheim-Eberle a financial offer the latter simply felt unable to refuse, especially since Stritzko's departure had probably severed any high-level interest in music publishing. Whatever the reasons, Waldheim-Eberle's direct interest in Mahler's music ceased, although the firm remained Universal Edition's printer until 1960 (when UE acquired a different printing company), and its engraving of many of Mahler's scores and parts remains the graphic basis for the majority of subsequent impressions of the works it had owned.
After 1938 Waldheim-Eberle was aryanised, but survived the war and continued in existence until 9 June 1974; the history of its post-war ownership is usefully outlined by Ursula Schwarz in her thesis Das Wiener Verlagswesen der Nachkriegszeit (Vienna, 2003).
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