Arsis Press

Arsis Press was founded by Clara Lyle Boone in 1974 to promote concert music by women composers in an effort to counter rampant discrimination against women’s music in the publishing industry. During its active life, the press published some 140 musical scores by 44 composers, including music by Vivian Fine, Emma Lou Diemer, and Ruth Crawford Seeger. The press also won several Paul Revere awards for its publications.

In 2002 Empire Publishing Services took over distribution of Arsis scores and payment of royalties from sales. But by 2018, the successor owner had ceased distribution of the music and payment of royalties. Thus, the musical scores in the Arsis catalog became what is known as “orphan” scores, that is copyrighted music without an active owner. The composers had lost their ability to obtain copies of their own music, could not publish their music elsewhere, received no royalties, and had no recourse for permissions for recordings or other opportunities.

Some of the composers have taken advantage of the possibility of terminating the original copyrights and transferring the rights back to themselves through the U,S. Copyright Office. The Arsis Press publications that are now available from the composers themselves, in libraries, or from such publishers as the American Composers Alliance are noted in the listings on this website

Additional information about the press can be found in the following places:

The Archives for the press are in the Performing Arts Library at the Library of Congress and include about 140 scores, many in hand-written manuscripts, as well as correspondence and business records. The archive notes also contain a brief biography of the founder.
(See Summary of the Collection at the Library of Congress.)

“Based in Washington, Her Arsis Press Seeks Fair Play for Female Composers”
by Gayle Worland The Washington Post, Sunday, March 9, 1997
(Read article)

“(Some of) The Outstanding Women of Arsis Press” by Dr. Stephanie Akau.
Article posted online by the Music Division of the Library of Congress, May 21, 2021
 (Read article)

For more information contact:  Elizabeth Vercoe