Otto Tomek (10.2.1928–18.2.2013)

Reading time: 2 min. Otto Tomek

We mourn the passing of our trusted companion and supporter of our composers.

Otto Tomek began his career in 1953 at Universal Edition and remained closely connected to the company for his whole life. Through his role as chairman of the supervisory board (until 2010) and as the head of the artistic committee, he made a significant and lasting contribution to the history of UE.

Tomek studied musicology with Erich Schenk in Vienna, writing his doctoral thesis on "Structure phenomena of the music of the 16th and 17th centuries". After his early years at UE he joined West German Radio in Cologne. As head of the new music department and the electronic music studio he turned Cologne into a centre of contemporary music. During his time as programme director of the concert series "Music of our time", he was responsible for innumerable world premieres and provided Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, Mauricio Kagel, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, György Ligeti, Luigi Nono, Morton Feldman and many others with working conditions second to none.

Tomek's visionary talent was seen as early as January 1958 when he asked David Tudor about the new piano concerto by John Cage. The world premiere of the concerto took place in New York in May 1958 and resulted in a veritable scandal. This did not, however, discourage Tomek, who continued to organise the German premiere, which was performed in Cologne on 19 September 1958.

It was this unwavering commitment to discovery that brought him not just respect but also the personal appreciation and friendship of many great composers, for whom he was a particularly competent companion. Many works were dedicated to Tomek.

In 1971, following the death of Heinrich Strobel, Otto Tomek took over as artistic director of the new music festival in Donaueschingen. In the same year, in his role as head of the music department, Tomek founded the experimental studio at SWF Radio in Freiburg.

From 1977 Tomek led the music department of SDR Radio in Stuttgart. In addition, from 1967 he was co-editor of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.

His great knowledge, his untiring commitment to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries and the heartfelt warmth of his great personality will always be an example to us.

The supervisory board, directors and staff of
Universal Edition AG.

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