Once the Konservatorium of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna was transferred to state ownership in 1909 and left the rooms it had occupied in the mezzanine along the Karlsplatz side of the Musikverein building, the music publishers Universal Edition, founded in Vienna in 1901, signalled their interest in leasing the empty rooms. An important centre for music that was in tune with the musical zeitgeist, the Musikverein represented an ideal address for a music publishing company. On 26 June 1914, a rental agreement between the two organisations was signed.
The musical spirit of the times was also captured by Universal Edition. Although the publisher had initially focused upon the publication of classical and romantic works, that focus moved swiftly onto contemporary music just a few years later. Gustav Mahler, Alexander Zemlinsky and Leos Janácek, all three of whom were former students of the Konservatorium of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, signed contracts with the publisher, as did Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Joseph Marx and Egon Wellesz.
During the legendary “Skandalkonzert” on 13 April 1913 in the Großer Musikvereinssaal, at which there were tumultuous scenes and the police were brought in to restore order, followed by a court process, all the works conducted by Arnold Schönberg were by composers published by Universal Edition. These and other works considered “unheard of” at the time are of course now considered as belonging to the standard repertoire, not only in the Musikverein. Premiere performances of UE composers in later times created far less uproar upon reaching the Musikverein stage, such as those by honorary members of the Musikverein Pierre Boulez and Friedrich Cerha, Wolfgang Rihm, Georg Friedrich Haas and Johannes Maria Staud.www.universaledition.com