“Klaus Heymann’s entrepreneurial vision has boldly demonstrated that it’s quite possible for a company to greatly enrich our cultural life, while at the same time serving myriad consumers—and making a handsome profit.”
Martin Morse Wooster, The American Enterprise
Naxos is the brainchild of Mr Klaus Heymann, a German-born entrepreneur and music lover based in Hong Kong. Uniquely alive to the cooperation of business and artistic endeavour, in a decade and half Heymann has established Naxos as a world leader in music education, sponsorship, and the provision of recorded classical music to all. What Penguin Books and the Livre de Poche did for literature, Heymann is very close to doing for serious music.
Klaus Heymann first went to Hong Kong in 1967 to start up the office of an American newspaper, The Overseas Weekly. Before coming to Hong Kong, he had worked for the same paper in his native city of Frankfurt for five years. He also had worked for one year as Export Advertising and Promotion Manager for Max Braun AG, the well-known manufacturer of audio equipment, household appliances, and electric shavers. After two years with the Overseas Weekly in Hong Kong, Heymann started his own business, initially a direct-mail advertising company and, subsequently, a mail order firm for members of the U.S. Armed Forces serving in Vietnam. The mail order catalogue of Pacific Mail Order System, the company founded by Klaus Heymann, purveyed cameras, watches, and audio equipment, including Bose loudspeakers and Revox tape recorders.
When the War in Vietnam came to an end, Heymann became the distributor for Hong Kong and China of Bose and Revox equipment and, soon after, also distributed the renowned Studer brand of studio recording equipment. In order to boost the sales of Revox and Bose products in Hong Kong, Heymann began to organise concerts of classical music sponsored by the two companies.
Klaus Heymann had been fond of classical music ever since he was a child (he attended his first classical concert at the age of 10) and thus the artists invited for the concerts in Hong Kong were all classical artists. Many of them had made recordings for various classical labels, but when they performed in Hong Kong, they were dismayed that they could not find their recordings in the shops.
As a result, in addition to distributing Bose and Revox equipment, Klaus Heymann started to import several classical labels, among them Vox-Turnabout, Hungaroton, Supraphon, Opus, and others. Because of the success of his concerts (they were well-organised and promoted) he was invited to join the board of the then amateur Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Heymann then took on the positions of “Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee” and “Honorary General Manager”. Within a year of his joining the board, the Hong Kong Philharmonic had been transformed into a full-time professional orchestra.
The committee meetings with the Hong Kong Philharmonic paid an unusual dividend. Through his association with the orchestra Klaus Heymann met his future wife, the prodigious Japanese violinist Takako Nishizaki. She came to play as a soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic during its first professional season. The work she played on that occasion was the Second Concerto by Henryk Wieniawski.
A year after their first encounter, the couple were married and Nishizaki moved from her native Japan to join her husband in Hong Kong. The couple’s only son was duly christened “Henryk”, in commemoration of their extraordinary and romantic first meeting.