The History of MUSA
MUSA traces its origins to the early 1980s when, at the prompting of several members of the American Musicological Society,
President Howard Smither formed the Committee on the Publication of
American Music (COPAM), with Lawrence Gushee as chair and Cynthia Adams
Hoover, H. Wiley Hitchcock, James Haar, and Richard Crawford as members.
By the mid-1980s the committee had decided that the AMS should sponsor
a national series of critical editions, and that the National Endowment for the Humanities
ought to fund it. The AMS soon agreed, but it took longer to gain NEH
support. In September 1987 the Endowment sponsored a conference at
Squam Lake, New Hampshire, at which more than twenty interested parties
came together to refine a plan for the series. In the same year, AMS
president Lewis Lockwood invited the Sonneck Society for American Music
(now the Society for American Music)
to choose a representative to COPAM. In July 1988, thanks to a
three-year NEH grant, project headquarters were established at Brown
University's music department in Providence, Rhode Island. Wayne
Schneider was hired as the first Executive Editor of the MUSA project.
Once funding had been secured, COPAM set about soliciting edition proposals,
commissioning editions, and setting up editorial procedures with the series
publisher, A-R Editions
of Madison, Wisconsin. The first MUSA volume appeared in print in the
autumn of 1993: Ruth Crawford's Music for Small Orchestra (1926) and Suite
No. 2 for Four Strings and Piano (1929), edited by Judith Tick and Wayne
Schneider. At the AMS's annual meeting in Montreal in November 1993, the
occasion was marked by a performance of the Suite by the Charleston Quartet
and pianist Virginia Eskin. By that time MUSA headquarters had moved to
the University of Michigan's School
of Music in Ann Arbor. The Executive Editors of MUSA have been Wayne
Schneider (1988-1993), Jeffrey Magee (1993-1997), Mark Clague
(1997-2003), Marcello Piras (interim 2001-2002), James Wierzbicki
(2003-2009), Dorothea Gail (2009-2012), Dexter Edge (2013-2014), and Andrew
As of 2015, twenty-five volumes of the projected forty-volume MUSA
series have been published. Focused on music of outstanding quality that
is otherwise unavailable, MUSA aims to bring state-of-the-art editions
to performers and scholars in a series that represents American musical
achievement as a whole.
The Philosophy of MUSA
(The following text appears as the Foreword in every volume of the series.)
Music of the United States of America (MUSA), a national series of scholarly editions, was established by the American Musicological Society (AMS)
in 1988. In a world where many nations have gathered their proudest
musical achievements in published scholarly form, the United States has
been conspicuous by its lack of a national series. Now, with the help of
collaborators, the AMS presents a series that seeks to reflect the
character and shape of American music making.
MUSA, planned to encompass forty volumes, is designed and
overseen by the AMS Committee on the Publication of American Music
(COPAM), an arm of the society's Publication's Committee. The criteria
foremost in determining its contents have been: (1) that the series as a
whole reflect breadth and balance among eras, genres, composers, and
performance media; (2) that it avoid music already available through
other channels, duplicating only where new editions of available music
seem essential; and (3) that works in the series be representative,
chosen to reflect particular excellence or to represent notable
achievements in this country's highly varied music history.
The American Musicological Society's collaborators in the national effort that has brought MUSA to fruition include the National Endowment for the Humanities
in Washington, D.C., which has funded MUSA from its inception; Brown
University's Music Department in Providence, Rhode Island, which
provided the project's original headquarters; the University of Michigan School of Music, where, since 1993, MUSA has made its home; A-R Editions, the publisher
of the MUSA series; and the Society for American Music which, through its representative to
COPAM, has provided advice on the contents of MUSA.
-- Richard Crawford, founding editor-in-chief
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Burkholder, J. Peter. “MUSA’s Debut.” L.S.A.M. Newsletter 24, no. 2 (1995): 12.
Clague, Mark. "Portraits in Beams and Barlines: Critical Music Editing and the Art of Notation." American Music 23 (Spring 2005): 39-68.
Crawford, Rich. "MUSA's Early Years: The Life and Times of a National Editing Project." American Music 23 (Spring 2005): 1-38.
Fortier, Suzanne. “Turning Up the Volume(s) in American Music.” Brown Alumni Monthly (April 1989): 16-17.
Kearns, William. “MUSA: An American Monument.” American Music Research Center Journal 8/9 (1998-99): 7-17.
“School of Music Scholars Launch American Music Series.” Music at Michigan 27, no. 2 (1991): 13.