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75 years of music publishing Emil Ruh

From the Festschrift 1908 - 1983

written by Theophil Hug

past history

In Adliswil, a suburb of Zurich in the Sihl valley, Emil Ruh marches through the streets as a young man in the "Okarinen-Orchester", formed together with his brothers Albert and Gottfried and some comrades. In the trombone choir of the Methodist community the young music lover plays enthusiastically on various instruments. Soon he was elected conductor of the ensemble and also conductor of the mixed choir of this free church. It was during this time that his first attempts at composition took place. After passing his apprenticeship as a typesetter and during his work as a music notation composer - at that time still in type typesetting - his desire to devote himself entirely to music and to run his own publishing house became ever clearer.


Emil Ruh founds his music publishing company at the age of twenty-four, mainly with the publication of his own compositions. A room in the rented apartment on Grundstrasse in Adliswil is both a workroom and a music store. His daring in view of the marriage that followed in 1909 was undoubtedly stronger than the question of whether a music publisher could also support a family. The beginnings were encouraging. In addition to their own editions, customers were soon offered the opportunity to buy works by other publishers. The first connections with foreign countries were established. After the family had grown in 1910 through the birth of the first daughter, the apartment soon proved to be too cramped for living and doing business.


The purchase of the residential and commercial building built in 1900 at Zürichstrasse 33 in Adliswil, a striking raw brick building in the unmistakable "style" of the time, was a stroke of luck and proves in retrospect the young publisher's wise foresight.

The house offered the necessary business and residential premises, whereby the former got the "supremacy" in the course of the years. The interior was adapted several times to the requirements and brought up to date; twice the façade was renovated. The neighbouring house Sihlquai 28a, acquired in 1959, offered the possibility of later accommodating part of the business premises there.


Emil Ruh joins the team at the outbreak of the First World War and serves as captain in the stage company 1/105 for many months. During this time, his "Schweizerischer Etappenmarsch", dedicated to his commander Hptm. Schorno (therefore also called "Sehoma March"), was created. The first printed edition appeared at the beginning of 1915.

This composition was quickly adopted by the entire army, so that it can be regarded as the Swiss military march of that time. But also the civilian music corps at home and abroad played and still play this march, which has become "historic" in the meantime. The wartime, however, was hardly conducive to the publishing house's prosperity, and it was the wife of the soldier on duty who often had to bear the entire burden of the work.

The years after the end of the war brought a gradual expansion of publishing activities. In addition to his own compositions, more and more works by other composers were published. The RUH editions were produced (until 1943) almost without exception in the excellent and traditional engraving and printing of a large Leipzig graphic company. The establishment of a commission agent distribution centre at Mrs. Hofmeister, Leipzig, the German book and music centre, was intended to broaden the sales base. Also the further customer services - mediation of music supplies and sales of instruments, in particular of harmoniums - experienced an intensive care. The need for a better distribution of the growing workload soon became apparent.


The entry of Gustav A. Walser from Ebnat SG as co-owner and the establishment of a general partnership "Ruh und Walser" gave the company a new legal structure. This five-year period was characterised by a very strong and almost too risk-averse expansion of publishing activities. The following hard thirties did not bring the expected fruits. The owner Emil Ruh, who had been the sole owner again since 1927, was therefore left with a heavy burden.


Theophil Hug, son of a large Adliswil family, joins the company as an employee. Despite modest means, the children learned to sing and make music diligently from an early age.


In the same year Theophil Hug, married to Elisabeth Ruh, is appointed Prokurist. The years of the general economic crisis were also for the publishing house EMIL RUH a fight for survival, which required the full commitment of all forces.


outbreak of the Second World War. Theophil Hug-Ruh joins the active service as a Fourier assistant of a medical unit of the Gotthard troops and often has to stay away from the business for months. The family and 1 - 2 employees take care of the continuation of the work. The orderly activities of the choirs and music corps, the main customers of the publishing house, came to a standstill during the war years due to the absence of the men or could only be maintained with difficulty with repertoire pieces.

It required great efforts to survive in the music industry, which in difficult times was usually regarded as not essential to life. How difficult it was, for example, to work as a publisher in Germany at that time, is shown by the following membership card of the Reichsmusikkammer, without which an activity there became impossible.


Leipzig is largely destroyed by bombing raids. For the RUH publishing house, all original printing plates weighing a few tons are lost at the printing house and larger stocks at the commission agent.


After the final defeat of the Axis powers and the armistice, all efforts were devoted to reconstruction. In Switzerland, which was spared the war, he undoubtedly found himself lighter than elsewhere. Fortunately, in our country there were new possibilities for the production and replacement of lost stocks due to the emergence of new processes in typesetting, reproduction and printing of musical notes.

With the homecoming of the soldiers, the musical life of the town and the country quickly began to move anew.


In spring, the family and publishing house are hit hard by the unexpected death of the founder Emil Ruh after a short, serious illness at the age of 62.

Unfortunately, the tireless creator and fighter was no longer allowed to enjoy the fruits of his labour and experience the further development of his company.

From the very beginning it was clear that the publishing house was to be continued by the family under the previous company EMIL RUH in the spirit of its founder. The son-in-law and former authorized signatory Theophil Hug had to take over the management. The generally expected economic crisis of the post-war years fortunately failed to materialize. On the contrary, an undreamt-of and sustained upswing took place, which also affected musical life and gave new impetus to the music industry. The fear that mechanical music reproduction through records, radio and later television would have a negative influence on "active" music care in the private and public sectors was unfounded. One could even see a revival of musical interest by the media among large sections of the population.

As a result, EMIL RUH has undergone a steady expansion: new works have appeared, former links with foreign publishers have been strengthened and numerous new ones have been added.


Introduction of the company's own logo.

The other years are characterized by a healthy growth in all areas of activity. The number of employees must be increased accordingly.


Viktor Hug, son of the managing director, joins the company.


In connection with the division of the estate, Theophil Hug-Ruh takes over the business as sole owner. At the same time, a power of attorney is granted to his collaborating wife Elisabeth Hug-Ruh.


Establishment of a company pension plan.


Viktor Hug, who has familiarized himself with all production, sales and administration tasks, is granted power of attorney.

Thanks to the liberalisation of trade and the facilitated exchange of music from country to country in general, but also as a result of the pleasingly prosperous musical and concert life of Switzerland in particular, the business volume of the House of RUH is constantly expanding.


At the beginning of the year, Theophil Hug-Ruh directs the business to his son and long-time employee Viktor Hug-Rudolph. The new owner simultaneously grants power of attorney to his wife Nanny Hug-Rudolph and his father, who only works on a reduced basis.

As a result of the continuing positive development in the following years, the number of employees is being expanded as necessary.


The publishing house EMIL RUH is 75 years old.

At the same time, the current owner in the third generation, Viktor Hug, can celebrate his 25th anniversary, another reason to be grateful and hope for gratifying continuity.

Theophil Hug (1983)

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