Since 1987, Naxos has redefined how classical music is presented and marketed. Innovative strategies of recording exciting new repertoire with exceptional talent have enabled the label to develop one of the largest and fastest growing catalogues of unduplicated repertoire available anywhere--currently over 2500 titles--with state-of-the-art sound and consumer-friendly prices.
Naxos is the brainchild of Klaus Heymann, a German-born entrepreneur and music lover based in Hong Kong. To boost the sales for his electronics equipment company, Heymann began organising concerts of classical music in Hong Kong sponsored by Bose and Revox. When visiting artists involved in the concerts discovered that their records could not be found in Hong Kong shops, record distribution became an additional enterprise of Heymann's company.
Another result of the classical concerts was Heymann's marriage to Takako Nishizaki, a world-class Japanese violinist. Heymann decided to make recordings with Nishizaki, one of the first recordings being The Butterfly Lovers Concerto. The recording met with immediate success and sold hundreds of thousands of copies across Asia, compelling Heymann to start HK, a record label devoted to Chinese symphonic music. Success continued, and the desire to record Western repertoire blossomed into Marco Polo, a label offering primarily rare symphonic repertoire composed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
When manufacturing costs of compact discs dropped in 1986, Klaus Heymann saw an opportunity for a budget-priced CD label-a label that could offer customers classical CDs for the same price as LPs. The first Naxos releases were a success, and the young, independent label began to build its catalogue by recording standard repertoire with young or unknown artists. As the popularity of Naxos began to increase with little or no competition from the major labels, the company developed into a full-fledged classical label offering a full range of classical music to beginners and collectors, with little or no duplication of repertoire.
Naxos CDs today continue to retail at a cost similar to their original introductory prices. Costs are kept to a minimum by focusing on the music rather than the artist-money is not wasted on expensive artist promotions, and profits are invested into recordings of new music rather than multiple versions of standard repertoire already in the catalogue. Naxos recordings include complete cycles or cycles-in-progress of basic repertoire such as the complete works of Chopin or the complete string quartets of Haydn, but the label also has ventured into rarities and contemporary works, including recordings of repertoire by Joachim Raff, William Henry Fry, and Krzysztof Penderecki.
Naxos is also active in the DVD business and now distributes Arthaus and BBC/Opus Arte DVDs world-wide as well as TDK in most major markets, and the company also has begun releasing recordings in the DVD-Audio format.
Naxos has been aggressive in the development of educational and outreach materials, specifically designed to introduce new listeners to the joys of classical music. Two resources at the forefront of this effort are Naxos.com, the company's comprehensive music website complete with composer biographies and online listening, and Naxos AudioBooks, the award-winning label which incorporates Naxos recordings of music into fine readings of classic literature.
The Naxos label also has gained stature by pioneering groundbreaking projects like the American Classics series. Currently numbering at about 100 titles, the series is set to be the most comprehensive recording project of American concert music ever attempted. Naxos is also leading the field with the landmark Naxos Historical Series. The releases in this massive restoration project are engineered by leading restoration engineers/artists. The series covers all genres of classical music as well as legends of jazz and pop music from the first half of the 20th Century. Other notable Naxos series include Japanese Classics, Spanish Classics, Early Music, Organ Encyclopaedia, the Guitar Collection, and Opera Classics. The catalogue of Naxos World, a pioneering world music label, includes international music of many different cultures and genres, folk, pop and classical alike.
Through these and other accomplishments, Naxos has become the World's leading Classical Music label, garnering awards from major music publications including Gramophone Awards and numerous Editor's Choices, GRAMMY nominations, nominations and wins for the Cannes Classical Awards, and AFIM nominations and awards.
Naxos offers music lovers a veritable encyclopaedia of music, all at an affordable price.