EMI Classics was formed in 1990 to provide a single overall trademark for the marketing of EMI's classical recordings worldwide.
Previously, EMI's classical product had appeared on a number of different, albeit famous, labels such as His Master's Voice, Columbia, Angel, Odeon and others, but some of these were not available to EMI in every territory, while others had strong regional associations. The creation of EMI Classics, and the introduction of a uniform record numbering system, enabled all of EMI's classical releases, now with tri-lingual notes, to be included in a single international catalogue available throughout the entire world. EMI Classics' heritage goes back a hundred years, to the start of both the Gramophone Company and the Columbia Graphophone Company. Many treasures from EMI's past are still on the catalogue, newly remastered using the latest technologies at Abbey Road Studios, beginning with some of the earliest recordings by the opera stars Enrico Caruso and Dame Nellie Melba. Other historical reissues include landmark achievements from the later days of the 78-rpm era by legendary figures such as the pianists Arthur Schnabel, Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein, violinists Jascha Heifetz and Fritz Kreisler, cellist Pablo Casals and the conductors Bruno Walter and Sir Thomas Beecham.
From the LP and early stereo eras come many acclaimed recordings by a host of great artists including EMI's three famous post-war sopranos Maria Callas, Victoria de los Angeles and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, the much-loved British cellist Jacqueline du Pr , conductors Herbert von Karajan, Otto Klemperer, Sir Adrian Boult and Sir John Barbirolli and the longest-serving artist in the history of the record industry, the violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin.
In more recent times, EMI has recorded many of the artists who are now the leading figures in the musical world. The conductors Sir Simon Rattle, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch, the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the pianist Stephen Kovacevich, the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, the violinists Itzhak Perlman and Nigel Kennedy, the trumpeter Maurice Andr , the singers Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Placido Domingo and the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, are just some of the distinguished names in this category.
Today, EMI Classics shows its commitment to the future not only by continuing to record top artists like those mentioned above, but also by expanding its roster to include exciting new talents such as the young violinists Sarah Chang and Maria-Elisabeth Lott, the cellist Han-Na Chang, the sopranos Natalie Dessay and Ruth Ann Swenson, the composer Thomas Ad s, the conductors Antonio Pappano, Ingo Metzmacher and Franz Welser-M st, the flautist Emmanuel Pahud, and opera's highly acclaimed star couple - Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna.
Other leading international artists recording for EMI today include the singers Thomas Hampson, Barbara Hendricks and Ian Bostridge, the pianist Leif Ove Ansdnes, the clarinetist Sabine Meyer and the Alban Berg Quartett. EMI Classics has also recently welcomed onto its catalogue the mature artistry of the violinist Kyung-Wha Chung, the pianist Martha Argerich and the conductor Claudio Abbado.
As a further encouragement for new talent, EMI has introduced the Debut Series, in which artists on the brink of international careers are represented on the EMI Classics catalogue in recordings of the highest standards but at budget price. And EMI Classics has been proud to present the classical works of Sir Paul McCartney, starting with his 'Liverpool Oratorio' in 1991 and continuing more recently with 'Standing Stone', 'Working Classical' and 'A Garland for Linda'.
EMI Classics, which celebrated its Centenary in 1997, is justly proud of its illustrious past and fully confident of maintaining its leading place in the future.