For years now, there have been regular internal discussions on founding an mdw distribution label for productions that emerge from the University’s everyday work. Particularly since the establishment of the AV (Audio/Video) Centre, the outstanding quality of the mdw’s Tonmeister Studies programme has improved the general skill level available at the University to an enormous degree, leading in recent years to high-quality productions that have received exuberant praise on the part of professional radio and television broadcasters ranging from the ORF to arte TV. Significant milestones in this development have included the project to record all of Joseph Haydn’s string quartets (haydn.total) as well as the contributions to the intégrale Beethoven series broadcast by arte Concert. Launching an in-house label would, however, pit a university against financial and tax law difficulties that had always been considered too problematic. So arriving at a solution that accounts for this dilemma’s two equally important imperatives—the public duty to make the University’s artistic achievements visible internationally while avoiding prohibited commercial activity by the institution—entailed investigating possible modes of cooperation. It follows that when the opportunity arose to sit down and think about a close cooperative arrangement together with Naxos Music Group, by now the world’s largest provider of classical music-related platforms, we took it. The mdw has already enjoyed many years of close ties with Naxos in the form of its individual contributions to the Naxos Music Library and above all thanks to Naxos head Klaus Heymann’s commitment to supporting the International Fritz Kreisler Violin Competition and the International Ludwig Van Beethoven Piano Competition. It was already in our initial personal meetings that Klaus Heymann and I succeeded in sketching out the project of a jointly run label, a project that has since developed further thanks to intense exchange. The result is the joint label “Naxos/mdw”.
This new joint label will afford global access to mdw audio and video productions that have arisen from the University’s development and exploration of the arts and been selected by both sides in a mutual process. And in turn, the outstanding artistic achievements of our students will be lent greater international visibility—with the mdw’s “brand presence” further strengthened. It goes without saying that the challenges of the past year’s COVID-19 situation did nothing to speed up last year’s process of authoring the complex contract that will govern this cooperative arrangement, a document that takes into account the differing requirements and starting points of its two sides: a commercial media enterprise and a publicly funded university with its legally defined mission. But thanks to the highly competent experts on both sides, an agreement was ultimately formulated that will now provide an outstanding basis for this planned long-term collaboration.
This year will witness preparation of the label’s initial releases of selected productions whose artistic quality and production values will document the mdw’s leading rank internationally.
We hope that we will be able to release further representative productions featuring operatic and concert repertoire as soon as possible, and we’re looking forward to the growth of an extensive collection of artistically valuable documents that will be available internationally via all relevant platform services on the Naxos/mdw label!