J & W Chester Ltd was founded in the 1860s in Brighton, Sussex by John and William Chester. To begin with their company specialised in distributing imported editions of classical music, mainly from the Continent.
In time Chester became a respected name not just in Britain but also in Europe where it had gradually become associated with the promotion of prestigious classical composers. Early in the 20th century a new owner, Otto Kling, acquired the company but retained the original name. By now Chester was starting to attract new composers and could claim to be among the first to publish Stravinsky, Poulenc and Falla among others. Kling moved Chester’s offices from the south coast of England to London.
In 1960 Chester was acquired by Danish publisher Edition Wilhelm Hansen. Firstly under Wilhelm Hansen and, from 1988 onwards as part of The Music Sales Group, Chester became a flourishing company active in both contemporary music and educational publishing.
Subsequently Chester would consolidate its international reputation in two other areas. As a publisher of distinguished contemporary classical composers its list now includes Lutoslawski, Maxwell Davies, Tavener, Weir, Saariaho, Salonen and Henze. Among leading composers who write for both concert hall and film & TV, Chester also publishes Nyman, Glass, Pook, Talbot, Einaudi, Yared and many other prestigious names.