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How do concert works get published?

Niah2

Active Member
Hello Everyone,

Not really sure where to post this question but here it goes, and my apologies if this is dumb question..

Occasionally I go to see some concerts and "catch" a new original work from a contemporary living composer only to have the pleasure to listen to it once because it never gets released by any publisher/labels afterwards. This ranges from orchestral work to multimedia operas, and it's quite a let down.

I can understand that it doesn't make sense to publish every concert work ever produced, but...
 

Mason

Active Member
Publishers are hesitant to publish new large orchestral works because they never get performed. It's a shame but in classical music, a lot of the orchestral repertoire is never performed again after its premiere. There are two reasons: The audience is small (even if the applaud politely) and performance organizations are obsessed about writing "WORLD PREMIERE" on the poster.

The big composers do get published but even with them, it might be as a "print on demand" service or rental scores. Many of the younger composers don't get published, but you might be able to order scores directly from the composer.
 

muk

Senior Member
Your best chance is to contact the composer directly if you want a chance to hear it again. Maybe she/he can send you a recording of the concert. If the work has been performed obviously sheet music exists, but I doubt that any composer would send it.

If you look at how publishers earn money with contemporary works, it is only through the rental of orchestral material for performances. They will cover the cost for score prep and printing only if they expect performances by professional orchestras. For composers, that means that in order to get recognition from publishers you need either to win an important prize for composition, or a steady record of performances by professional orchestras/ensembles. Failing that it is unlikely that publishers will be interested.
 
OP
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Niah2

Active Member
Thanks guys.

Yes sometimes I do feel a lot of the people attending these concerts are mostly family, relatives, peers. :) Other times when it's more affluent it's because they through some of the very well-known classical repertoire in the mix.

What about the lack of CD/mp3 releases of contemporary composers? Even the more well known contemporary composers of the likes of Georg Fredrich Haas have tons of material floating around Youtube with no official releases. Aren't there specialized niche labels for this type of music?
 

Mason

Active Member
Thanks guys.

Yes sometimes I do feel a lot of the people attending these concerts are mostly family, relatives, peers. :) Other times when it's more affluent it's because they through some of the very well-known classical repertoire in the mix.

What about the lack of CD/mp3 releases of contemporary composers? Even the more well known contemporary composers of the likes of Georg Fredrich Haas have tons of material floating around Youtube with no official releases. Aren't there specialized niche labels for this type of music?
The new pieces often just becomes a fun curiosity before or after the old masterworks that are performed repeatedly by every orchestra.

The CD business has of course changed a lot and there is no money in it other than the artists themselves paying the record label to do it. So the composer might be responsible for $40.000 to the producer and then comes the fee per musician per recording day, perhaps a $100.000 budget, and unless he is lucky to live in a country with governmental grants or a rich private sponsor, most works never get recorded.

Good live recordings are more realistic though and might be found on YouTube etcetera.
 

muk

Senior Member
The new pieces often just becomes a fun curiosity before or after the old masterworks that are performed repeatedly by every orchestra.
There is the infamous term 'sh*# sandwich' that concert planners use. Basically you place the modern music between two classics, so that the audience will sit through the piece in the middle without leaving, because they still want to hear the classic at the end.

As with publishing, a professional recording costs a lot, and most modern composers (even the more famous ones) won't sell enough copies to cover the costs. It's a loss making business. Usually professional recordings are only possible if there are subsidies. And these go mostly to high-profile composers, and high-profile institutions who are unlikely to work with little known composers. So the less known composers either have to pay out of their own pocket for publishing and/or recording, or make do with self-publishing and the non-professional live-recordings from concerts.
 
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