Columbia 'M' Series

M644 Casadesus Debussy Preludes

Columbia Masterworks Records was a record label started in 1927 by Columbia Records.

It was intended for releases of classical music and artists, as opposed to popular music, which bore the regular Columbia logo. Masterworks Records' first release, in 1927, was a complete performance of the Symphony No. 1 by Johannes Brahms, conducted by Felix Weingartner. 

Under the leadership of its president Goddard Lieberson, who later added the rest of the Columbia label to his portfolio, a great many notable classical artists made contributions to the Columbia Masterworks library, such as the conductors Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy and George Szell, the pianists Vladimir Horowitz, Walter Gieseking and Oscar Levant and the organist E. Power Biggs. The composers Aaron Copland and Igor Stravinsky also appeared conducting their own works.

In addition to classical music, Columbia Records also issued Broadway albums, soundtrack albums, and spoken-word recordings under the Masterworks name. The first successful spoken word album was a 1948 Masterworks entry, the first I Can Hear It Now album, edited by Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly and supervised by former CBS staffer J.G. Gude. Columbia Masterworks was also the first recording company to release an album of an entire stage production - the 1943 Broadway revival of Shakespeare's Othello, starring Paul Robeson, José Ferrer, and Uta Hagen. This was released first as a multi-record 78-RPM album and afterwards as a 3-LP set.

Columbia Masterworks was also responsible for the original cast albums of Kiss Me, Kate (1948) and South Pacific (1949).

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