For Bärenreiter, the company’s present location in Kassel is far more significant than Augsburg, the city where the publishing house was founded and was located in its early years from 1923 to 1927. Nevertheless, many initial developments took place in this early period when the publishing house had its home in this city on the River Lech. Here, Karl Vötterle spent his youth, his apprenticeship and the first years working independently. Only his marriage to Maria Zeiss took him to her home city Kassel.
In his memoirs “Haus unterm Stern” Karl Vötterle wrote in detail about the islands in the River Lech and of his first activities as a member of the Augsburg Wandervogel. As a regular visitor to the local city library, he developed a love of books and the importance of collecting and preserving them. Thus, on his way to school he purchased his first antiquarian books, thereby laying the foundations for the future Bärenreiter library. He worked for a year as an assistant to the bookseller Robert Reuß, and contributed to the cultural life of the city by organising readings and lectures.
A key moment was his meeting with Walther and Olga Hensel in the spring of 1923 at a song recital in the city. Later on that year, in the midst of the inflation, this led to the beginning of his work as a publisher in his parents’ flat. In this flat which belonged to a block of rented flats called “Aumühle” , the first Finkensteiner Blätter were folded and made into binders, with help from his mother who sewed the binding threads.The name of the building led to the name for the publishing house “Bärenreiterverlag Augsburg-Aumühle” though this was used only for a short time. When the first employees were hired, the company moved to another street.
In 1927, shortly before the move to Kassel, the 24-year-old Vötterle was able to look back on the results of the Augsburg period: fourteen employees, printing facilities and a publishing programme which, although it showed a preference for music, also included postcards, art books, home economics books, fiction, yearbooks and magazines.