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Serge Koussevitzky (1874-1951)

Koussevitzky as Publisher: Éditions Russes de Musique and a Livelihood for Composers

One of the ways in which Koussevitzky championed new music was through the establishment of his own publishing company, Éditions Russes de Musique. All royalties went to the composers, with the publisher merely recovering costs. Composers also received a stipend to cover works in progress, and the company retained an artistic board that vetted potential composers. Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Taneieff and Medtner were on the first advisory board.

Title page of Editions Russes published score for Scriabin's Prometheus

Scriabin's Prometheus, Poem of Fire, published by Éditions Russes de Musique

After several years with no publisher, Scriabin was in financial straits: Koussevitzky found that one of them had to sit on a windowsill to converse as there was only a single chair in Scriabin’s house. Koussevitzky engaged Scriabin in his new publishing venture, both as a composer receiving a stipend and as a member of the company’s advisory board.

Paraphrased and translated anecdote from Serge Koussevitzky: Volume One, The Russian Years by Victor Yuzefovich, Moscow: Languages of Slavic Cultures, 2004