About Us

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 Kuster (2015-present).
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


Beckwith, John. "Review Essay: Music of the United States of America." American Music 14 (Spring 1996): 103-111.

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.