Durand is one of the most important French music publishers. The company was founded as Durand-Schoenewerk & Cie on 30 December 1869, and on that same day bought the catalogue of Flaxland, the premises of which had been situated at 4 Place de la Madeleine in Paris since the end of the 1840s. Flaxland's success had been built on the acquisition of the copyrights to the French editions of Schumann's piano works and
Wagner's earlier operas, Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin.
Following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and for a period of over eighty years, Durand developed a richly varied catalogue based on the most representative French composers of the time: Saint-Saëns, Fauré, D'Indy, Debussy, Dukas, Ropartz, Roussel, Schmitt, Ravel, Milhaud, Poulenc, Duruflé, Jolivet and Messiaen. This corresponded to a real revival of French music after a dormant period during the debonair years of the Second Empire.
Saint-Saëns entrusted Durand with nearly all his compositions, among them his most successful works, such as Danse macabre, the opera Samson et Dalila, the Third Symphony 'with organ', though Le Carnaval des animaux was published only after his death. The few later works of the severely self-critical Paul Dukas were also published by Durand (L'Apprenti sorcier, the opera Ariane et Barbe-Bleue and the danced poem La Péri). The music of D'Indy is also well represented in the catalogue with such brilliant works as the symphonic variations Istar and the Second Symphony. Durand also published D'Indy's important theoretical work, Cours de composition musicale.
With the dawn of the twentieth century, Durand proved its sensitivity to the rise of musical modernism by publishing the works of Debussy, notably the opera Pelléas et Mélisande with its libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck, La Mer ("three symphonic sketches"), the two books of Preludes for piano and Jeux, a "danced poem" for Diaghilev. The firm's activity before the First World War reflected the intense creativity in Paris at that time, which was often visited by the Ballets Russes of Sergeï Diaghilev. In 1905, Durand begin to publish all Maurice Ravel's works, among them Rapsodie espagnole, the ballet Daphnis et Chloé and, after the war, La Valse, the famous Boléro and the two Piano Concertos.
Other jewels of French music were published during these years: all Albert Roussel's works, including the ballets Le Festin de l'araignée and Bacchus et Ariane, and also the highly structured Symphonies 2, 3 & 4; most of Florent Schmitt's works, most notably the sumptuous Tragédie de Salomé; the last songs and intimate chambers works of the ageing Fauré; the chamber music and the franckian symphonic study La Chasse du Prince Arthur by Ropartz; the three first string quartets and the provocative music for Protée by Milhaud.
In the thirties, a new composer, Olivier Messiaen appeared on the musical scene. With its publication of the Eight Préludes for piano in 1931, Durand became the composer's first publisher. Durand is proud to present in its catalogue some of the finest of Messiaen's works: Quatuor pour la fin du temps for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (written during composer's captivity in Germany), Visions de l'Amen for two pianos, Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine and the huge Turangalila-Symphonie, a symphony in ten movements with piano and ondes Martenot soloists, premiered in December 1949 in Boston in a performance conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
Since the 1980s, Durand has published many composers representative of the new French music, such as Nicolas Bacri, Renaud Gagneux, Philippe Hersant, Philippe Manoury and also some significant masters of the previous generation such as Claude Ballif and François-Bernard Mâche.
Publishing editions of the old classics was always a speciality of Durand's within the scope of French music publishing. In 1894 Durand began to publish the collected works of Rameau, with Saint-Saëns as general editor, eighteen volumes of which appeared up until 1924. In 1914, in collaboration with the prestigious group of living French composers already published by the firm, Durand started the celebrated collection "Édition classique Durand & Fils". The principal editors included Saint-Saëns (Mozart's piano works), Fauré (Schumann's piano works), Debussy (complete piano works of Chopin) , Ravel (Mendelssohn's piano works), Roussel (Mendelssohn's chamber music), Dukas (Beethoven's piano sonatas and violin sonatas) and Schmitt (Haydn's violin sonatas).
Durand is currently engaged in the publication of a critical edition of Debussy's complete works.
In 1987 Durand acquired the catalogues of the publishers Amphion, Max Eschig and, in the early nineties, the serious music catalogue of Rideau Rouge.