The Composers Recordings, Inc. Records contain recording project files, correspondence, business and financial papers and photographs documenting the history of the record label devoted to contemporary American music.
Biographical/historical: Composers Recordings, Inc. (CRI) was founded in 1954 by the composers Otto Luening and Douglas Moore and the arts administrator Oliver Daniel. The label's mission was the discovery, distribution and preservation of the finest in contemporary American music. The three founders started the company with a $5,000 profit left over from the defunct American Recording Society, and $10,000 in seed money from the American Composers Alliance.
In February, 1976, CRI became one of the nation's first nonprofit, tax-exempt recording companies, and in June, 1980, it received one of the first three recording and distribution grants to be awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts. A 1987 citation from the American Academy of Arts & Letters stated that CRI "has recorded more American music and for a longer time than any other recording company in the world." Over the years, four CRI recordings received Grammy nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences in the category of Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Among other honors and citations, the label received the Letter of Distinction by the American Music Center.
Literally hundreds of American composers had their first recording released on CRI, making the label a mainstay of career development and audience contact for several generations of composers. Over 600 full-length recordings were released by CRI on LP, cassette and CD, representing well over 1,000 compositions in all styles and genres. While virtually every significant American composer was recorded under the label's banner, CRI was particularly successful in recording important talents early in their careers. Of the thirty-seven Pulitzer Prize-winning composers on the label, twenty-seven were recorded by CRI before they won the prestigious award. CRI also recognized and incorporated into its archives the experimental tradition that is so much a part of American music, including important early recordings of John Cage and Harry Partch. The label was an important advocate of women composers as well, starting from its first release in 1954 which featured the music of Marion Bauer.
In 2003 CRI ceased recording activity, and in 2006 the rights to the label’s recordings were transferred to New World Records, which now distributes the CRI catalog. The company was dissolved in 2007.
Source: (Accessed 29 October 2007.)
Content: The Composers Recordings, Inc. Records document the history of the record label, mainly through recording project files, but also through business papers, financial papers and photographs. The project files comprise the majority of the collection and contain album, CD and cassette artwork and liner notes, production information, correspondence and reviews. Photographs from the project files, including photos of composers and performers, comprise Series VI.
The business and financial papers trace the history of the company from its inception, through its transition in 1976 to a non-profit venture, to the takeover of its catalog by New World Records and dissolution in 2007. They include meeting minutes, board and composer correspondence, development papers, audits and financial statements, tax returns, bank records and other documentation. Series IV consists of the papers of the composer Nicolas Roussakis, who was a longtime board member of the company. Donated to CRI after his death, his papers contain further CRI business and financial records.