The original concept for Ars Nova Press began back in the early 1960s. At that time, Frank Bencriscutto and Donald O. Johnston were carrying out their doctoral studies in music composition at The Eastman School of Music, under Howard Hanson, the school’s director. Both Johnston and Bencriscutto recognized the need for a publishing entity that would widen the scope of works made available to music ensembles, and better serve the interests of composers.
In June of 1968, after establishing themselves prominently in academics and concert performance, Dr. Bencriscutto and Dr. Johnston met to again discuss the creation of this special publishing venture. The entity would feature worthy compositions of considerable merit that couldn’t find publication because of commercial concerns. In later discussions with luminary composer and conductor, Vaclav Nelhybel, the project idea found further support. The initial plan was to start with the promotion of wind band music (as so many wind organizations exist across the country) and later expand into the area of strings and chamber music. Sadly, with the passing of Dr. Bencriscutto and Mr. Nelhybel, the Ars Nova Project fell into hiatus.
In 2000, Dr. Johnston contacted Dr. Gloria Wilson Swisher, a fellow doctoral classmate and noted composer, regarding re-instituting this project. At that point, the mission for Ars Nova was altered. Rather than focus solely as an alternative to commercial publishing entities, Ars Nova’s chief purposes would be to one: function as a preservation society to preserve our musical heritage through the reprinting of deserving out-of-print music; and two: to promote new, worthy compositions that have not found publication due to commercial concerns. Music of all genres would be under consideration, and the scope would be international.
It was decided that a special Editorial Review Board of highly qualified musical peers would be created. Each submission would be carefully examined and evaluated before publication. Those works, which were to be honored with publication, would be chosen solely upon their merits and inherent quality, not in their ability to make a profit.
In 2003 the Internal Revenue Service approved the creation of Ars Nova Press® Inc., as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. Since that time, Ars Nova Press has archived, and made available, well over one-hundred significant twentieth century music compositions. Additionally, numerous works by contemporary composers have been published and archived. With this work completed, the promotion of those works, and the support of individuals and organizations which perform art music, has become a primary focus.
Ars Nova Press is unique in that it is one of only a few nonprofit music publishers that exists in the United States.