Music at Columbia: The First 100 Years

Electronic And Computer Music > Vladimir Ussachevsky

Otto Leuning and Vladimir Ussachevsky in the Electronic Music Center

Photograph, no date

Columbia University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library


Electronic music’s pioneer was Vladimir Ussachevsky, who taught composition at Columbia from 1947 until 1980. Using monies from the Ditson Fund, the Department of Music purchased an Ampex 400 tape recorder and microphone in 1951. Ussachevsky demonstrated the new medium for the first time publicly at his Composers Forum concert on May 9, 1952 at McMillin Theater. In October of that year, the electronic compositions of Ussachevsky and Otto Luening were introduced by Leopold Stokowski at a concert at the Museum of Modern Art.

In this photograph, the Ampex 400 tape recorder is in the foreground at the left of the image.

Vladimir Ussachevsky

Typescript notes on the arrival of the Ampex 400 tape recorder.

Electronic Music Center


The Vladimir Ussachevsky Papers, now in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, include materials related to the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center; documents from his professional activities outside of Columbia; and several draft scores of his compositions. There is also an extensive selection of music journals, including rare foreign-language items, collected by Ussachevsky during the 1950s and 1960s. For the finding aid of the collection, please see:


Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. East / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-5153 /