The 60th Anniversary of the American Music Center

Frank J. Oteri
Frank J. Oteri
Photo by Melissa Richard

November is an important month here at the American Music Center. Sixty years ago this month, the dreams of Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson, Otto Luening, Quincy Porter, Marion Bauer and Harrison Kerr became a reality and the American Music Center was born.

To celebrate the occasion, we have brought on a new webmaster, Eugene Takahashi, who is in the process of completely redesigning the site. We have veered from our usual interview format for In The First Person and instead have conducted a “virtual séance” with the founders of the Center. Old interviews, articles, lectures, and personal correspondence housed in archives around the country form the basis of this experimental undertaking – a seeming conversation between our six founders, all quoted from their own words, explaining the reasons why the Center was formed and offering unique perspectives about the state of music in this country which remain amazingly timely in November 1999.

To complement our focus on the founding of the American Music Center, we have asked John Duffy, Samuel Adler, Patrick Hardish, Sylvia Goldstein and Vivian Perlis to share personal anecdotes about their encounters with the Center’s founders, and we ask you to share your views about the role that the Center should have in the future. We’ve also invited Karissa Krenz to describe what other American organizations are doing for new music in a hyper-history of music service organizations.

Our News this month also seems to have an historical bent with important rediscoveries of Morton Feldman, Ben Weber, and Serge Rachmaninoff, whom we often forget was an American composer! In the month of our 60th anniversary, there are recordings of music by more than 60 American composers featured in our SoundTracks each including a RealAudio sample, and more than 60 new concerts have been added to our concert listings in Hear&Now.

Our rich musical heritage offers many insights into the paths we should follow for the future – as composers, performers, presenters, administrators, music critics, and audience members. I arrived at the American Music Center one year ago this month and am honored to be part of its ongoing tradition.