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Our Story

New Music USA was formed by the merger of the American Music Center and Meet The Composer.

We provide over $1 million each year in grant support for the creation and performance of new work and community building throughout the country. We amplify the voice of the new music community through NewMusicBox, profiling the people and ideas that energize and challenge music makers today. We stream a wide-ranging catalog of new music around the clock on Counterstream Radio and provide an online home for composers to feature their own music.

History of the American Music Center

The American Music Center was founded in 1939 by Marion Bauer, Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson, Otto Luening, Harrison Kerr, and Quincy Porter. Their goal was to establish an environment that would encourage the ongoing creation of new American music and promote its production, publication, distribution, and performance through the United States and abroad. In support of this mandate, the six founders created a library of scores and recordings to address significant problems of access and promotion, as well as an information-gathering and distribution service to provide difficult-to-obtain data necessary for the promotion of contemporary music.

Throughout its seventy-two year history, the American Music Center was a consistent leader in pioneering new programs and services to advance the field of new American music:

  1. In the 1940s, the American Music Center developed a non-profit music publishing and recording operation.
  2. In 1958, the Center created the first significant national program to commission, perform, and record new American orchestral works. This groundbreaking model for consortium commissioning resulted in 18 commissioned orchestral works, 72 performances, 12 recordings, and a Pulitzer Prize for John La Montaine’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.
  3. In 1962, the American Music Center created the Composer Assistance Program, the first national program to provide funding to composers for extracting and copying parts from their scores, as well as other expenses related to preparing materials for a premiere performance.
  4. In 1985, the American Music Center launched American Music Week to foster performances of American repertoire around the country annually during a specifically designated week in the month of November.
  5. In 1999, it ushered in a new era of advocacy and communication for American music with the launch of NewMusicBox, the nation’s first-ever online publication dedicated exclusively to contemporary American music.
  6. In 2002, the Center continued to deepen its online presence with the creation of a searchable online database of works by American composers. This Online Library provides immediate access to scores, performance information, and streaming audio samples.
  7. In 2007, the Center further expanded its ability to disseminate new American music with the launch of Counterstream Radio which serves listeners a continuous 24/7 stream of recorded music.

History of Meet The Composer

Meet The Composer was founded in 1974 as a project of the New York State Council on the Arts. Led by the visionary composer John Duffy, in just two years it became an independent, national organization dedicated to the idea of the composer as an engaged professional with a central role in our country’s musical culture.

From the outset, Meet The Composer was motivated by a core belief that interaction with a living composer and his or her music had the power to invigorate and inspire musicians and audiences alike. Its programs and services – starting with the Meet The Composer Fund, and expanding into commissions for new work, residencies with schools and orchestras, and experiments with crowdsourcing–were thus designed to support not only the creation of new musical work, but also direct audience engagement with and around this work in communities throughout the United States. They were also designed to support the broadest range of contemporary compositional styles, from classical to jazz, and from traditional to experimental. With its vision and through its programs, in thirty-seven years Meet The Composer effectively revolutionized the environment for composers in the United States.

  1. Meet The Composer partnered with over 4,000 artistic and civic organizations – in rural communities, small towns, suburban centers and urban neighborhoods – to involve new audiences and promote fresh interaction with the music of living composers
  2. Meet The Composer connected over 50 million individuals in all 50 states with more than 7,000 living composers.
  3. Meet The Composer led the way in reintegrating the composer into the world of the symphony orchestra, supporting more than 100 composers in residencies which lasted from a few weeks to many years.
  4. Meet The Composer was a major force in the world of dance, fostering collaborations between composers and choreographers while commissioning well over 300 joint works.
  5. Meet The Composer’s Global Connections program supported 45 international performance and research projects in 30 different countries.
  6. Meet The Composer helped established broadly accepted standards of payment for composers, helping to cement the position of composers as working professionals.