Universal Music Group has announced the acquisition of the renowned British classical label Hyperion Records. Founded in 1980, it will become part of UMG’s portfolio of world-famous classical labels, which includes Deutsche Grammophon, founded in 1898, and Decca Classics, established in 1929. The new pact further reinforces UMG’s position as the definitive global home for classical music.
As the news statement avows, Hyperion’s “unique and distinctive identity will strengthen and enhance UMG’s continuing long-term commitment to investing in classical music talent and in career-building for classical recording artists.” Hyperion will preserve its unique identity and legacy in the vanguard of classical music by remaining a stand-alone label, alongside Decca Classics and Mercury KX, within Universal Music UK.
The award-winning Hyperion was founded as an independent label by the late Ted Perry MBE and has been managed by his son Simon, who remains managing director, for over 20 years. It’s home to such distinguished recording artists as Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, Sir Stephen Hough, Alina Ibragimova, Steven Isserlis, Dame Emma Kirkby, Steven Osborne, the Takács Quartet, and many more.
12th century to 21st
Hyperion is devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of classical music of all styles and from all periods from the 12th century to the 21st. Its broad repertoire ranges from sacred and secular, choral and solo vocal to orchestral, chamber and instrumental, much of which is unique to Hyperion. In its 43 years, it has released close to 2,500 recordings.
The label has created countless pioneering recordings of great cultural value that have broadened the musical horizons of discerning music lovers. They include the album A Feather On The Breath Of God, which brought the 12th-century beauty of Hildegard of Bingen to a wide audience. The company has also been responsible for many invaluable large-scale projects, including no fewer than 85 volumes of Romantic Piano Concertos; pianist Leslie Howard’s 99-CD complete Liszt Edition; and the 40-CD Schubert Edition, containing all the composer’s songs by many of the world’s finest singers.
Hyperion has been repeatedly recognized for its work, including with the prestigious Gramophone Record of the Year Award on four occasions between 1996 and 2010, and as Gramophone’s Label of the Year. Hyperion has also received the Best Label Award at MIDEM’s Cannes Classiques Awards, selected by a jury of editors of leading international classical music magazines.
New and upcoming Hyperion releases include Vaughan Williams’ Sinfonia Antartica and Symphony No.9 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins; the launch of an ambitious series dedicated to the Masses and Magnificats of Cristóbal de Morales; Haydn’s String Quartets Opp. 42 and 77 from the London Haydn Quartet; and from Stephen Layton and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, a typically innovative programme of choral works by Ivo Antognini, Come to Me in the Silence of the Night.
‘A jewel of a label’
“Hyperion is a jewel of a label,” says Dickon Stainer, president and CEO, Global Classics & Jazz, Universal Music Group, “and we are committed to continuing the magnificent work done by the Perry family and to preserving and building on the special place Hyperion occupies in the hearts of artists and music fans alike.”
Simon Perry, director of Hyperion Records, adds: “I’m thrilled to bring Hyperion to Universal Music Group, a company that shares Hyperion’s commitment to bringing the most distinctive and brilliant musicians to as wide a public as possible. By being part of UMG, while keeping our artists and staff together, we can continue to build on my father’s legacy and that of everyone who’s been part of the Hyperion family over the past 43 years. My debt to all of them is huge and I look forward to leading this incredible label into an exciting new chapter.”
Tom Lewis and Laura Monks, co-presidents of Decca Label Group, reflect: “We are enormously proud that Hyperion has joined Universal’s family of classical labels to sit alongside Decca Classics in London. Simon and his father have created a very important recorded classical catalogue that serves a dedicated global audience. And the label continues to work with artists who are the best of the best. We are determined to celebrate the label’s legacy and continue its extraordinary story.”
Hyperion artist, pianist Angela Hewitt notes: “Almost thirty years ago we began our journey together, and you have been the greatest support and main ‘creator’ of my career, and for that I am eternally grateful. It has been a career built on integrity, quality, and inspiration, and with Ted, and then Simon, I have felt nothing but respect for both me and the music.
“I am proud to have been associated with Hyperion for so long, and of the catalogue we have built together. It is good to know that my Mozart piano sonata cycle will be finished and that there are other projects that will go forward as well. I completely understand why Hyperion has changed hands at this point and am thrilled that Simon Perry remains part of the team. Here’s to the next chapter in the life of a brilliant record label!”
Her Hyperion labelmate, pianist Sir Stephen Hough says: “I started recording for Hyperion when digital technology was barely a decade old – in the early 1990s. It has been an amazing home for me over the past 30 years, allowing me to record dozens of albums, from the obscurest repertoire to mainstream classics to my own music. That Universal wants to take the label under its umbrella alongside DG and Decca is great news as it will give the widest possible exposure and support for Hyperion’s catalogue of treasures.”
Another of Hyperion’s distinguished artists, violinist Alina Ibragimova, adds: “Over many years Hyperion has been a wonderful artistic team for me, supporting me to discover, experiment and record incredible repertoire in exactly the way I wanted. Hyperion has become famous for discovering works by lesser-known composers as well as recording the standard repertoire but in a unique way, always with huge commitment and integrity. I am looking forward to many more years of working with Simon Perry and his team in this new chapter as they join Universal Music Group.”