Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 January 2018
In its inaugural 2007 press release, New York–based New Amsterdam Records announced its mission to “foster a sense of connection among musicians and fans in this ‘indie classical’ scene.” New Amsterdam's publicity apparatus brought “indie classical” into widespread media circulation, but by 2013 the label had ceased using the term. In the intervening years, the meaning of indie classical had been hotly contested by the community of musicians it was meant to champion. Drawing on more than fifty interviews, archival research, and reception history from traditional publications and new online sources, I recreate the rise and fall of indie classical as it transpired over a decade. Tracing the background of the composers and performers who first labeled themselves as indie classical, unveiling the origins of the term and how it was disseminated, and examining the debates that surrounded it and its subsequent decline reveals how the aesthetic discourse of new music is constructed in the twenty-first century.