The Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft was founded in 1898 by German-born United States citizen Emile Berliner as the German branch of his Berliner Gramophone Company. Based in the city of Hanover (the founder's birthplace), the company had links with the U.S. Victor Talking Machine Company and the British Gramophone Company, but those links were severed at the onset of World War I.
In 1945 as part of Germany's surrender terms ending World War II, Deutsche Grammophon forfeited its rights to the His Master's Voice trademark to EMI. The dog and gramophone were replaced by the "crown of tulips", designed by Siemens advertising consultant Hans Domizlaff.
Deutsche Grammophon pioneered the introduction of the compact disc to the mass market, debuting classical music performed by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic for sale in the new medium in 1983, the first recording being Richard Strauss' Eine Alpensinfonie. It shold be noted that the first commercially available cd was 52nd St by Billy Joel.
In 1987 Siemens sold off its interest in Deutsche Grammophon, and Philips became the majority shareholder. In 1998 Seagram Company Ltd of Canada purchased Deutsche Grammophon and Polygram. Since then Deutsche Grammophon has been merged into the Universal Music Group, a division of Vivendi.
Deutsche Grammophon has a huge back catalogue of notable recordings. The company currently is reissuing a portion of it with the indication Originals. Originals compact disc releases are noted for their vinyl record stylized design. They are also releasing some of American Decca Records' albums from the 1940s and '50's, such as those that Leonard Bernstein made for Decca in 1953, and the classic Christmas album which features Ronald Colman starring in A Christmas Carol and Charles Laughton narrating Mr. Pickwick's Christmas. Along with the American Decca Records classical music catalogue, Deutsche Grammophon also manages the classical music catalogue of ABC Records including Westminster Records.
There never was a "PolyGram" label. The name PolyGram was a combo of POLYdor (the German parent company of the Deutsche Grammophon label) and PhonoGRAM (the Dutch owner of the Philips Classics, Mercury and other labels). PolyGram was the name invented to replace PPI, which wasn't terribly catchy as an entertainment-biz moniker. The name Phonogram never caught on in the US (Philips/Phonogram NL bought into the US market in the late 60s or early 70s by buying Chicago-based Mercury and its affiliated labels). And Polydor, while it WAS an actual label name, fizzled along in the US (as did Mercury, a well-established name) after the German Polydor bought into the US market by buying California-based MGM records and its distribution company and affiliated labels around the same time. The sibling classical labels -- DG and Philips Classics (which was unknown in the US until the buyup) -- did well in the US, especially DG, because it signed the Boston Symphony Orchestra and made an early (and interrupted) deal with the Metropolitan Opera, went on to record other US orchestras, etc.
The entrance of PolyGram's classical labels to the US market came at a time when the big US classical labels -- Columbia (Masterworks) and RCA (Red Seal and Victor) were caving in to the pop culture, dropping their 'unlucrative' classical artists, and making bad pressings. The fine quality both of recording and of pressings helped DGG especially succeed.
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