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Deutsche Grammophon is a Germanmarker classical record label, now part of the Universal Music Group (UMG). It is also UMG's oldest active label.


Record of Emile Berliner's Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft.
Made 1908 in Hannover, Germany
The Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft was founded in 1898 by German-born United Statesmarker citizen Emile Berliner as the German branch of his Berliner Gramophone Company. Based in the city of Hannovermarker (the founder's birthplace), the company had links with the U.S. Victor Talking Machine Company and the Britishmarker Gramophone Company, but those links were severed at the onset of World War I.

In 1941 Deutsche Grammophon was purchased by the Siemens & Halske electronics company.

In 1945 as part of Germany's surrender terms ending World War II, Deutsche Grammophon forfeited its rights to the "His Master's Voice" trademark to EMI. The dog and gramophone were replaced by the "crown of tulips", designed by Siemens advertising consultant Hans Domizlaff.

In 1962 Siemens formed a joint venture with Netherlandsmarker-based Philips to create the DGG/PPI Record Group, which became The PolyGram Group in 1972.

Deutsche Grammophon were owners of the Beatles' first record label, Polydor Records.

Deutsche Grammophon pioneered the introduction of the compact disc to the mass market, debuting classical music performed by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic for sale in the new medium in 1983, the first recording being Richard Strauss' Eine Alpensinfonie.

DGG/Polydor's entrance into the US market in 1969 came at a time when the big US classical labels -- Columbia (Masterworks) and RCA (Red Seal and Victor) were dropping their 'unlucrative' classical artists, and making poor quality pressings. The fine quality both of recording and of pressings helped DGG especially succeed and attract Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra to DGG/Polydor. In 1987 Siemens sold off its interest in PolyGram, and Philips became the majority shareholder. In 1998 Seagram Company Ltd of Canadamarker purchased Deutsche Grammophon and Polygram. Since then Deutsche Grammophon has been merged into the Universal Music Group, a division of Vivendi.

Deutsche Grammophon has a huge back catalogue of notable recordings. The company is reissuing a portion of it with the indication Originals. Originals compact disc releases are noted for their vinyl record stylized design. They are also releasing some of American Decca Records' albums from the 1940s and '50's, such as those that Leonard Bernstein made for Decca in 1953, and the classic Christmas album that features Ronald Colman's starring in A Christmas Carol and Charles Laughton's narrating Mr. Pickwick's Christmas. Along with the American Decca Records classical music catalogue, Deutsche Grammophon also manages the classical music catalogue of ABC Records, including Westminster Records.

Although Deutsche Grammophon acquired the reputation of releasing mainstream classical recordings, from the 1960s onwards it released several avant garde recordings (initially under the 'Avant Garde' imprint), including Bruno Maderna, David Bedford, Cornelius Cardew, Luigi Nono and improvisations. It also released the majority of the compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen until the composer bought the rights to the recordings and re-released them under his own label. Other German composers associated with the label included Paul Hindemith and Hans Werner Henze.

Contemporary composers whose works have been released by Deutsche Grammophon include Sofia Gubaidulina, Oliver Knussen, Mark Anthony Turnage, Peter Eötvös and Philip Glass.

The conductor most associated with the label is Herbert von Karajan. Other conductors under contract have included Karl Böhm, Eugen Jochum, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Claudio Abbado and Christian Thielemann. A more recent signing has been Gustavo Dudamel.

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