Founded by producer Manfred Eicher in 1969, ECM has issued over a thousand albums spanning many idioms. After establishing an early reputation with standard-setting jazz recordings by Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and others, ECM began to include contemporary composition in its programme in the late 1970s. Eicher’s own background, as a musician active in both jazz and classical music, provided an unusually broad vantage point from which to survey the genres, and the producer has been credited with helping to bring form to improvised music and a sense of ‘improvisational’ flexibility to recordings of contemporary composition.
ECM New Series was launched in 1984 to introduce the music of Arvo Pärt with the highly influential “Tabula rasa”. The label has continued to issue premiere recordings of Pärt’s works, including the recent “In principio”. Other regularly featured composers include Valentin Silvestrov, Tigran Mansurian, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Heinz Holliger, Giya Kancheli, György Kurtág, Meredith Monk, and Heiner Goebbels. A long list of distinguished interpreters includes Kim Kashkashian, András Schiff, Gidon Kremer, Thomas Demenga, the Hilliard Ensemble, Trio Mediaeval, John Potter’s Dowland Project and the Zehetmair and Rosamunde string quartets.
ECM's interests extend across the arts, and the label has released complete soundtracks of Jean-Luc Godard's “Nouvelle Vague” and “Histoire(s) du Cinéma” and a DVD of Godard’s short films, as well as Eleni Karaindrou's music for film and theatre. The quality of ECM albums at all levels – from musicianship, production and engineering to cover art – has been widely recognised and the label has collected many awards. Eicher’s label has been hailed, by UK newspaper The Independent, as “the most important imprint in the world for jazz and new music.” In 2007 ECM made history by winning prizes as both classical label of the year and jazz label of the year (from t