Carla Hinrichsen

Music publisher at Peters Edition
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The Independent Online

Carla Helen Eddy, music publisher: born Lawrence, Kansas 15 May 1922; managing director, Hinrichsen Edition (later Peters Edition, London) 1966-76; married 1956 Max Hinrichsen (died 1965); died London 2 December 2005.

Carla Hinrichsen was associated for half a century with the classical-music publisher Peters Edition, London. She was one of a generation formed by an ethos which has not, in general, survived the rigours of modern music publishing. Quick-witted, outspoken, tall, and with an apparently effortless authority, Hinrichsen could seem rather matriarchal. At the same time, she coupled modesty and a certain secretiveness to a sometimes fierce determination to prise information out of others, usually with complete success.

American-born, she entered the world of European music publishing through circumstance, not background. She was born Carla Eddy in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1922, into a family that had immigrated to America in the 17th century from Cranbrook in Kent. (Much later, Max Hinrichsen, her husband, would publish poetry using the imprint Cranbrook Tower Press.) Her father was a journalist and postmaster; her beautiful, and older, sister was at one time a model.

Carla was the "brainy one". She received a BA degree with distinction from Mills College, Oakland, California, in 1941, when she was only 19, after which she studied law at the University of Kansas. During her time at the Kansas School of Law, she also acted as an assistant instructor in psychology and pursued her interest in classical music as a violinist and singer. Later, she was to become an enthusiastic recorder player.

She then spent the next four years in Germany, using her legal skills to work for the American War Department during the military occupation of that country following the Second World War. She decided to base herself in Europe from then onwards; 10 years ago, she eventually gave away the substantial property inherited in Colby, Kansas, from her parents to the local school and hospital - a typically philanthropic gesture.

It was through meeting Evelyn Hinrichsen, the wife of Walter Hinrichsen, at a Mills College reunion, in 1953 or 1954, that Carla Eddy eventually became Carla Hinrichsen, wife to Walter's brother, Max. Following the rise of the Nazis and their departure from Germany, both brothers had eventually set up music publishing houses: Walter in New York, Max in London.

Carla became Max Hinrichsen's second wife in 1956 and in the following year the only other director of his company. She worked with him until his death in December 1965 at what was then called Hinrichsen Edition. She then continued as chairman, managing director and secretary of the firm from 1966 to 1976, much loved by her staff. It was only in December 1975, not long before she relinquished her post as managing director, that the change of name to Peters Edition was finally made.

During the couple's directorship, the company continued to champion a wide range of British music, including not only a large output for amateur and youth markets but also the composers Cornelius Cardew and Brian Ferneyhough. Such bold support for challenging modernist composers more highly regarded abroad than at home was unusual.

While Carla Hinrichsen was managing director the London company published a complete edition of Debussy's piano music, which remains popular today, and made a major licensing deal involving the works by Richard Strauss and György Ligeti famously used by Stanley Kubrick in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

After resigning, Hinrichsen continued to act as a consultant to the firm, and became a friend, counsellor and example to many in Peters Edition, both in London and in the Peters companies in New York and Frankfurt.

In 1976, she established the Hinrichsen Foundation, as she herself put it, "in memory of Max Hinrichsen's desire to benefit his adopted country". A British charity that dispenses funds for new music activities and musicological research, the foundation profited considerably from Hinrichsen's sympathetic wit and wisdom.

Keith Potter