January 24, 2022

Columbia University Libraries Digitizes Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center Collection

From Columbia U. Libraries:

In May 2018, Columbia University Libraries was awarded a grant by the GRAMMY Foundation to digitize and preserve 400 hours of unique recordings of early electroacoustic music from the archives of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (CPEMC). The content was selected from a collection of over 5,500 reel-to-reel audio tapes, which were deeded to the Libraries in 2009 and transferred out of a storage area in the original Center’s home, on West 125th St. in Prentis Hall.

The resulting Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center Collection has now been published to the Libraries’ Digital Libraries Collection catalog (with streaming audio access for full-time affiliates via UNI login.) Bibliographic records for the collection also appear in the Libraries’ online catalog, CLIO, and in WorldCat.

The CPEMC was the first American center for electroacoustic music established in the United States. It was founded in 1959 by Columbia professors Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening and Princeton professors Milton Babbitt and Roger Sessions as “a center where composers could work and experiment without having to contend with the forces of commercialism” (Otto Luening, in an interview by Robert Moog, in Contemporary Keyboard, May 1981).


Luminaries in electronic and avant-garde music who visited, worked, and studied at the Center included not only Columbia and New York City-based composers, but also composers from around the world. Composers who produced work there include Jon Appleton, Bülent Arel, Wendy Carlos, Charles Dodge, Halim El-Dabh, İlhan Mimaroğlu, Mario Davidovsky, Daria Semegen, Alice Shields, Pril Smiley, and Edgard Varèse.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.