International Society for Contemporary Music.

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The League of Composers was co-founded in 1923 in New York by Claire Raphael Reis and several contemporary composers. Conceived as an alternative to the International Composers' Guild, the League's mission was to promote the composition and performance of contemporary music. By 1954, the League had commissioned 110 works by outstanding American and European composers (including Aaron Copland, Bela Bartók and Samuel Barber), sponsored American stage premières of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Oedipus Rex and The Wedding, and presented some of the first radio broadcasts of contemporary music sponsored by the Pan American Association of Composers. It also gave concerts and receptions honoring Arnold Schoenberg, Paul Hindemith, Darius Milhaud and other composers who had recently immigrated to the United States. Its quarterly Modern Music (1924-1946) contained critical reviews of new works and articles by leading composers. The executive directors of the League were Reis (1923-1948) and Copland (1948-1950).

The International Society for Contemporary Music was founded in 1922 after the Internationale Kammermusikaufführungen Salzburg, a festival of modern chamber music held as part of the Salzburg Festival. It was intended to help break down national barriers and personal interests and publicize and promote contemporary music 'regardless of aesthetic trends or the nationality, race, religion or political views of the composer'. These aims were to be pursued through annual music festivals in different countries. The first (1923) was restricted to chamber music; in 1924 and 1925 separate chamber and orchestral festivals were held, and from 1926 the festivals included various genres. The society's activities were also promoted by the autonomous national sections, numbering 46 in 1995. Each country is represented by one section.

From its inception the ISCM was plagued by internal disputes concerning its purpose and operation. There was conflict between those countries that felt that it should promote avant-garde music (principally Germany before 1933 and Austria and Czechoslovakia before 1938) and those that considered any contemporary music to be worthy of the society's interest (principally France, Great Britain and the USA). Despite the internal weaknesses of the society, the pre-war ISCM festivals were most significant as forums for leading contemporary composers, providing the occasions for important premières and performances of music by Webern, Berg, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Stravinsky and others.

The League of Composers merged with the United States section of the ISCM in late 1954. The combined organization continued to sponsor performances of music by contemporary composers such as William Schuman, Henry Cowell, Virgil Thompson, John Cage, Jacob Druckman, Elliot Carter, Milton Babbitt, Charles Wuorinen, and others. In 1976, it helped organize the World Music Days Festival in Boston. The ISCM continues to sponsor an annual National Composers Competition, recordings of contemporary music and an annual concert series in New York.

Claire Raphael Reis (1888-1978) was a music promoter and author. Born in Brownsville, Texas, she was educated in France, Germany, and New York. In 1912 she founded the People's Music League of the People's Institute in New York, an organization that provided free concerts for immigrants and public schools. She became licensed as a kindergarten music teacher and adapted Montessori teaching methods to music. In 1914, she helped establish the Walden School.

In addition to co-founding the League of Composers, Reis was its executive director for twenty-five years. In 1955 she published Composers, Conductors and Critics, which describes events and people from her experience in the League. She also wrote several articles, two catalogs for the International Society for Contemporary Music, and American Composers of Today (1947; revised and enlarged as Composers in America: Biographical Sketches, 1977). She was secretary of the board of directors of the New York City Center of Music and Drama. Reis helped found the Women's City Club and was a member of the advisory board for the Work Projects Administration. She served on the advisory committee of music for the 1939 New York World's Fair, and she was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to the New York Committee on the Use of Leisure Time. Among the awards she received were the National Association of American Composers and Conductors award for outstanding service (1945-1946); the Laurel Leaf award of the American Composers Alliance (1963); a scroll from Mayor John V. Lindsay acknowledging her assistance in founding the City Center (1968); and the New York City Handel Medallion for "her outstanding contributions and dedicated efforts for cultural achievement" (1969).


Rita H. Mead. "League of Composers." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed January 6, 2012).

Anton Haefeli and Reinhard Oehlschlägel. "International Society for Contemporary Music." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed January 6, 2012).

Donna P. Parker, "Reis, Claire Raphael," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed January 06, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

From the guide to the League of Composers/ISCM records, 1906-2009, 1923-2009, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn The Moldenhauer Archives at Harvard University: Correspondence, literary manuscripts, sound recordings, and other material, 1873-2001. Houghton Library
referencedIn Lewertoff, Else Thalheimer. Lewertoff papers, 1925-1965. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf International Society for Contemporary Music. Correspondence with Marian Anderson, 1964. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Alexei Haieff papers, circa 1900-1985 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn Ambassador Auditorium Collection, 1974-1995 Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries
creatorOf International Society for Contemporary Music. League of Composers/ISCM records, 1906-2009 (bulk 1923-2009). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Albert Israel Elkus Papers, 1893-1976 Bancroft Library
referencedIn International Society for Cotemporary Music collection [ca. 1942-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
creatorOf League of Composers/ISCM records, 1906-2009, 1923-2009 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn The Mel Powell Papers, 1942-1991, inclusive Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Hugo Weisgall Papers, 1922-1997, 1934 - 1997 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Weisgall, Hugo. Hugo Weisgall Papers, 1922-1997 (bulk 1934 - 1997). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Rudolf Kolisch papers, 1886-1978. Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Antheil, George, 1900-1959. person
associatedWith Barber, Samuel, 1910-1981. person
associatedWith Bartók, Béla, 1881-1945. person
associatedWith Berg, Alban, 1885-1935. person
associatedWith Blitzstein, Marc person
associatedWith Blitzstein, Marc. person
associatedWith Bloch, Ernst, 1885-1977. person
associatedWith Britten, Benjamin. person
associatedWith Cage, John person
associatedWith Cage, John. person
associatedWith Carter, Elliott, 1908- person
associatedWith Casella, Alfredo, 1883-1947. person
associatedWith Castro, Juan José, 1895-1968. person
associatedWith Chávez, Carlos, 1899-1978. person
associatedWith Coolidge, Elizabeth Sprague, 1864-1953. person
associatedWith Copland, Aaron, 1900-1990. person
associatedWith Cowell, Henry, 1897-1965. person
correspondedWith Elkus, Albert I. (Albert Israel), 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Falla, Manuel de, 1876-1946. person
associatedWith Ganz, Rudolph, 1877-1972. person
associatedWith Ginastera, Alberto, 1916-1983. person
associatedWith Goossens, Eugene, 1893-1962. person
associatedWith Gruenberg, Louis, 1884-1964. person
associatedWith Haieff, Alexei, 1914- person
associatedWith Harris, Roy, 1898-1979. person
associatedWith Hindemith, Paul, 1895-1963. person
associatedWith Howe, Hubert S. person
associatedWith ISCM World Music Days. corporateBody
associatedWith Ives, Charles, 1874-1954. person
associatedWith Karchin, Louis S person
associatedWith Karchin, Louis S. person
associatedWith Kidde, Geoffrey, 1963- person
associatedWith Klemperer, Otto, 1885-1973. person
correspondedWith Kolisch, Rudolf, 1896-1978 person
associatedWith Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951. person
associatedWith League of Composers (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Levi, Paul Alan person
associatedWith Levi, Paul Alan. person
associatedWith Lewertoff, Else Thalheimer. person
associatedWith Lindsay, John V. person
associatedWith Lindsay, John V. (John Vliet) person
associatedWith Malipiero, Gian Francesco, 1882-1973. person
associatedWith Martinů, Bohuslav, 1890-1959. person
correspondedWith Mel Powell person
associatedWith Milhaud, Darius, 1892-1974. person
correspondedWith Moldenhauer, Hans, collector. person
associatedWith New York City Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Ormandy, Eugene, 1899-1985. person
associatedWith Ornstein, Leo, 1892-2002. person
associatedWith People's Institute (New York, N.Y.). Music League. corporateBody
associatedWith Perle, George, 1915-2009. person
associatedWith Piston, Walter, 1894-1976. person
associatedWith Porter, Quincy, 1897-1966. person
associatedWith Prokofiev, Sergey, 1891-1953. person
associatedWith Rathaus, Karol, 1895-1954. person
associatedWith Reiner, Fritz, 1888-1963. person
associatedWith Reis, Claire R. person
associatedWith Reis, Claire R. (Claire Raphael) person
associatedWith Riegger, Wallingford, 1885-1961. person
associatedWith Rodzinski, Artur, 1892-1958. person
associatedWith Rosenfeld, Paul, 1890-1946. person
associatedWith Ryterband, Roman. person
associatedWith Satie, Erik, 1866-1925. person
associatedWith Schoenberg, Arnold, 1874-1951. person
associatedWith Schuller, Gunther person
associatedWith Schuller, Gunther. person
associatedWith Schuman, William, 1910-1992. person
associatedWith Sessions, Roger, 1896-1985. person
correspondedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Still, William Grant, 1895-1978. person
associatedWith Stokowski, Leopold, 1882-1977. person
associatedWith Stravinsky, Igor, 1882-1971. person
associatedWith Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989. person
associatedWith Tischler, Hans, 1915-2010. person
associatedWith Walter, Bruno, 1876-1962. person
associatedWith Webern, Anton, 1883-1945. person
associatedWith Weinberg, Henry, 1931- person
associatedWith Weisgall, Hugo person
associatedWith Weisgall, Hugo. person
associatedWith Women's City Club of New York. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country

Corporate Body

Active 1906

Active 2009


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Ark ID: w6m10d7v

SNAC ID: 28631402