Leonard Bernstein and the Schmid family (1968)Hans Ulrich Schmid's private collection
Konzertdirektion Schmid was founded by Hans Ulrich Schmid, a young businessman who, after successfully completing his musical studies, decided against a career as a pianist. Instead he decided to head in a different direction.
He began a commercial apprenticeship, and then joined the Hamburg piano manufacturers Steinway & Sons, where he was soon promoted to director’s assistant. His next step brought independence: in 1957 Hans Ulrich Schmid and his business partner Alfred Döll founded Klavierhaus Döll, a piano shop in Hannover’s Schmiedestraße no. 8.
Hans Ulrich Schmid didn’t sell pianos for long. Concerts taking place in the cellar under the shop led to a sideline in contract negotiations for pianists such as Karl Engel and resulted in the founding of Konzertdirektion Hans Ulrich Schmid.
In the initial years the artists’ list boasted names such as Alfred Brendel, Helen Donath, Pierre Boulez, Sir John Barbirolli and Sir Georg Solti. Later Christoph Eschenbach joined Konzertdirektion Schmid (signing up for world-wide management) at the very beginning of his career as pianist and conductor.
The company’s first Journal was released: “Die neuesten Nachrichten” (the latest news) reported on Eschenbach’s US debut at the invitation of the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell.
After a few years a steadily growing tour department developed alongside the company’s activities in Artist Management. The Hallé Orchestra Manchester under the direction of Sir John Barbirolli, the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Georg Solti, the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Colin Davis, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields all entrusted the still unknown Hans Ulrich Schmid with their German tours.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra embarked on its first European tour under the management of Konzertdirektion Schmid. The orchestra was conducted by William Steinberg, assisted by the young Michael Tilson Thomas.
The first tour of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Georg Solti and Carlo Maria Giuliani arranged by Hans Ulrich Schmid lasted six weeks. The tour began with a recording in Vienna and included four concerts at the Edinburgh Festival, two at the Flanders Festival, and one each in Gothenburg and Stockholm, a televised performance in Frankfurt’s Jahrhunderthalle, appearances in Hannover, Hamburg and Berlin, two at the Vienna Musikverein, three at La Scala Milan, one at the Munich Opera and two each in Paris and London.
In 1974 Murray Perahia joined the artist list. A year later he was hailed as a representative of “A New Generation of Pianists”. “Tomorrow he too will be called a distinguished representative of the young generation.” (W.-E. von Lewinski in the Konzertdirektion Schmid Journal)
Hans Ulrich Schmid clinched the deal for Pierre Boulez to conduct the legendary “Ring” by Patrice Chéreau at the Bayreuth Festival.
In the 70’s many tours took place with even more American Orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Lorin Maazel, the New York Philharmonic with Pierre Boulez, the National Symphony Orchestra Washington under the direction of Antal Doráti and the Pittsburgh Symphony with André Previn.
In the vocal department Helen Donath was soon joined by personalities such as Janet Baker, Nicola Gedda and Edith Mathis.
The vocal department of Konzertdirektion Schmid merged with the Bueker agency forming Bueker/Schmid Management, thus expanding its list with prominent names including Wolfgang Schöne, Hans Sotin, Doris Soffel and Edda Moser.
In the 1980’s Hans Ulrich Schmid concentrated his personal energies on orchestral tour planning and on the management of a few selected conductors which included Dennis Russell Davies, Sir Colin Davis, Antal Doráti, Eugen Jochum, André Previn, Sir Georg Solti and Günter Wand.
Konzertdirektion Schmid went on to take over the Amsterdam agency Interartists, a natural development in Schmid’s long- standing and close collaborations with various Dutch orchestras, amongst them the Concertgebouw Orkest, the Residentie Orkest Den Haag and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. The company was managed locally by General Manager Hanna Zubrzycka. As a result, Konzertdirektion Schmid’s first foreign operations began to take shape.
Konzertdirektion Schmid took on the representation of Yo-Yo Ma and Mitsuko Uchida.
Cornelia Schmid joined the family business after having completed a master’s degree in English and German and gaining practical experience at Harold Holt in London and Interartists in Amsterdam. She joined the Artist Management Department, looking after artists such as Jorge Bolet, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Lynn Harrell, Håkan Hardenberger, Marek Janowski, Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, to name but a few.
The PR Department of Konzertdirektion Schmid was established to provide additional services to artists and orchestras represented by the agency.
Hans Ulrich Schmid withdrew from active management and Cornelia Schmid took over the running of the company.
In close cooperation with Van Walsum Management, Konzertdirektion Schmid opened a London office on their premises. Karen McDonald, the only member of staff in the new office, took on the responsibility of Konzertdirektion Schmid’s General Management clients particularly for the UK, Scandinavia and Australia.
The office has since expanded to a staff of seven and in 2006 it moved into new offices in the heart of London’s theatre district,Covent Garden. KDS UK has already proved highly successful, with a number of its own General Management artists such as Andris Nelsons, Håkan Hardenberger, John Storgårds and Baiba Skride.
In recognition of his achievements as one of Europe’s most important music managers of the 20th Century, Hans Ulrich Schmid received an album containing personal letters, photographs and dedications from numerous American orchestras and conductors who have been closely connected to Konzertdirektion Schmid for decades.
Konzertdirektion Schmid celebrated its 50th anniversary. Associate partners and artists from all around the world were guests in Hannover.
With nearly 30 members of staff, some 40 orchestral tours per season, approximately 60 artists on its roster, its own PR Department, an office in London and concert series in various cities, Konzertdirektion Schmid has grown from a family oriented business with a long tradition, into a medium-sized concern with a worldwide network of contacts.
KD Schmid opened a PR-office in Charlottenstr. 43, Berlin.