Bärenreiter Praha was established in December 1991 as the youngest subsidiary of the international publishing group Bärenreiter, which is based in Kassel, Germany, and has branches in Switzerland, the UK, and the US. This step was the culmination of years of collaboration between the German publisher and the erstwhile Czechoslovak state enterprise Supraphon (in 1978 they jointly launched the Complete Critical Edition of the Works of Leoš Janáček), as well as other Czechoslovak publishing houses, which valued Bärenreiter-Verlag as a major export partner.
The new Czech publisher (initially as Editio Bärenreiter Praha, since 2008 as Bärenreiter Praha) immediately established its own publishing policy focused on Czech music. As a subsidiary of an internationally renowned brand, Bärenreiter Praha brings the works of Czech composers into the group’s extensive international distribution network, thus contributing significantly to their worldwide availability and recognition. Thanks to the publisher’s connections with major organisers of music and theatre performances, Czech music has become increasingly well-established on the global music scene.
The primary focus of the company’s publishing programme is the publication of scholarly critical editions, either in specialised series of complete editions or individually as Urtext editions.
Complete critical editions are regarded as the very pinnacle of music publishing activities. The primary aim of complete editions is not merely to “prepare sheet music for performance” but rather to faithfully represent the composer’s work. Work on the actual notation is generally preceded by years of research on the composition’s sources, reception, the composer’s life, and all relevant contexts. This meticulous scientific research manifests itself in the published volumes not just in the authoritative musical texts but also in the extensive prefaces – scholarly studies about the composition with a detailed critical framework. At present, Bärenreiter Praha is publishing the complete critical editions of the works of Bohuslav Martinů and Leoš Janáček.
Individual works of the most popular Czech composers, such as Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, Josef Suk, or Bohuslav Martinů, along with numerous other Czech composers from the Baroque era to the present day (such as Jan Dismas Zelenka, Leopold Koželuh, František Xaver Dušek, Erwin Schulhoff, Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, or Miloslav Kabeláč) are published in the form of Urtext editions. The Bärenreiter Urtext series is a guarantee of the highest quality from a scholarly as well as practical performance perspective.
The publisher also has a dominant position within the Czech and Slovak market for educational and instructional literature for almost all traditional musical instruments, which is another mainstay of its publishing programme.