Boston, 1969: During a study visit at the now world renowned Berklee College of Music (then known as Berklee School of Music), the German jazz musician and arranger Kurt Maas reached a decision: he wanted to give German jazz musicians access to the know-how of American jazz lecturers through the ‘Berklee Correspondence Course’, a mail-based corresponding course already operating in the USA. At this time, German musical education did not offer any comparable teaching program.
However, Maas was not able to turn his idea into reality, as the rights to the project were denied to him. Nevertheless, his connection to Berklee founder, Lawrence Beck, payed off. Instead of the rights to the corresponding course, he offered Kurt Maas exclusive European distribution rights for the college’s in-house book publications. Maas saw more than a business opportunity in this offer: the educationally ambitious musician was offered the unique opportunity to obtain high-quality teaching materials for his jazz courses, which he planned to offer in Germany.
During the late 1960s, it was still extremely difficult to obtain any jazz sheet music or relevant teaching material, outside of the USA. Original arrangements for big bands were also in short supply for a European music scene, whose need for jazz material was continually growing.
Back in Germany, Maas started his business in his apartement under the name ‘Berklee Publications’. He sold sheet music and textbooks which were published in the USA by ‘Berklee Press’. The market response to his products quickly surpassed all expectations. Jazz enthusiasts from Germany and other European countries showed a keen interest in American products, which quickly led to sheet music from other publishers being offered.
In the beginning, the core product range consisted of jazz sheet music from predominantly American publishing companies, which made ‘Notenversand Kurt Maas’, as he was known once his product range had been expanded, stand out from most other European suppliers.
During the following years, which along with the development of the sheet music business, also saw Kurt Maas devote himself to an intensive educational career as head of the jazz department at the Richard Strauss Academy of Music in Munich, the company continually expanded its range of repertoire.
The big increase in products on stock, that resulted due to the business growth, meant that a move for the company (which then totalled five employees alongside Maas) to a new location became necessary. In 1995, the company moved to new offices in Martinsried near Munich, with more space for the increasing amount of sheet music items that needed to be stocked. Yet the company’s crucial step towards the future was not the move to new premises, but the development of new markets through the means of the online world.
Martinsried, 2001: Around the turn of the millennium - during the early days of the internet era - Kurt Maas recognized the need to be commercially involved with this new medium and its distribution potential.
The physicist Wolfgang Hamann, with whom Maas had already developed a music notation software in the 1980s, designed a website for the distribution of sheet music. This, once again, resulted in a significant increase of the product range. Now, the business offered sheet music material for every musical genre and for all imaginable instrumentations. Along came the fitting new name of the website: www.all-sheetmusic.com.
Feldafing, 2006: In the years following the launch of the online business, the company increased the volume of its products even further, thereby creating the need for another expansion of floor space. Kurt Maas made use of this situation and had a new building constructed for the company, based on his own concept. Offices, that represent a pleasant work place for the staff and an attractive contact point for customers seeking a place to browse our assortment in 'real life'.
For this purpose, a new space was built in Feldafing at lake Starnberg (based on the plans of the architect Ludwig Hölz), that not only provided sufficient space for logistics and distribution, but could also be used to invite customers to come and browse and take a look around.
Maas therefore put an emphasis on a building full of light. The sheet music shelves were organized in a library style so that staff and customers are able to easily find articles they are looking for.
Nowadays, the Kurt Maas sheet music distribution company is able to deliver approximately 700,000 titles within a short time. What started as the European sales division of Berklee Press has become a reliable partner for musicians, teachers and ensemble conductors throughout all music genres.