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Deutsche Grammophon Celebrates Its 120th Birthday Today

The world’s oldest and best-known classical label will use its anniversary year to continue building a lasting legacy.

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Deutsche Grammophon 120th Birthday
Anne-Sophie Mutter performed with composer Seiji Ozawa before the Japanese Imperial Family @ DG120 in Tokyo - Photo: Ryota Mori

Deutsche Grammophon is marking the 120th anniversary of its company foundation on 6 December 1898 with a carefully curated global programme of DG120 live concerts, special events, record releases and much more.

The world’s oldest and best-known classical label will use its anniversary year to continue building a lasting legacy. The company’s unprecedented DG120 programme has been designed to reach existing fans worldwide, attract new followers in Asia and beyond, and share its peerless catalogue with as many people as possible. It has already attracted new audiences in search of great recordings and performances, as well as garnering extensive international media coverage.

The birthday celebrations began with the spectacular DG 120 – The Tokyo Concert, held at Tokyo’s legendary Suntory Hall last night, 5 December, in the presence of the Japanese imperial family. Anne-Sophie Mutter joined Seiji Ozawa, Diego Matheuz and the Saito Kinen Orchestra for a programme of works by Bach, Beethoven, Saint-Saëns and Tchaikovsky.

In Korea, Seong-Jin Cho marks Deutsche Grammophon’s actual birthday in style today with DG120 – The Seoul Anniversary Concert, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor K.466 with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Lionel Bringuier at the Seoul Arts Center. Anne-Sophie Mutter joins the Seoul party tomorrow, Friday 7 December, opening the evening’s programme with Bruch’s evergreen First Violin Concerto.

The celebrations continue well into 2019. Future anniversary landmarks include DG120 – The Hamburg Concert, with Hélène Grimaud, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Andris Nelsons (19 January 2019), DG120 – The Hanover Concert, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Nelsons (9 April), and DG120 – The London Concert at the Royal Albert Hall with DG artists Peter Gregson and Víkingur Ólafsson (1 May).

As uDiscover Music previously reported, The Yellow Label launched its milestone year in October with a DG120 Gala Concert at Beijing’s Forbidden City, the first classical performance to be staged there for 20 years. In November, the next anniversary event was hosted by Deutsche Grammophon in Berlin – the city in which it is now headquartered. DG120 – The Berlin Gala was held at the Berlin Philharmonie and featured Lang Lang and Anne-Sophie Mutter, who performed the world premiere of a new version of John Williams’ Across the Stars, dedicated to her.

The objective of sharing the beauty and emotional power of classical music with a broad global audience has been achieved by leveraging the reach of the events through TV and digital media. The Forbidden City Concert and Berlin Gala will air in over 50 countries with a projected reach of over 30 million viewers. The seven DG120 event live-streams so far have reached a total online audience of over 1.8 million viewers.

The live stream of the DG120 Beijing Gala attracted over 200,000 viewers globally, with 6.3 million more set to watch on terrestrial television. The event at the Forbidden City drew over 130 million visits on social media, while the live stream of Beijing’s first Yellow Lounge experience attracted roughly 426,000 views in just two hours.

Other DG120 highlights include The Shellac Project, a thrilling collaboration with Google Arts & Culture to restore treasures from DG’s historic archives. The series has released 156 tracks to date and will grow by the anniversary year’s end to a total of 400 tracks, available through the Yellow Label’s own channels and on partner platforms including Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. Deutsche Grammophon have also released a highlights LP on vinyl to showcase the audio quality of the restoration process.

Innovative thinking led to the creation of Deutsche Grammophon exactly 120 years ago. The company was founded on 6 December 1898 by Emile Berliner, the American-based German inventor of the gramophone, and soon became synonymous with excellence in recorded music. The company’s remarkable history is brought to life in State of the Art, a richly illustrated book published in a brand-new edition on 7 December 2018.

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