Sony Classical Records is an American record label. It was started in 1927 as Columbia Masterworks Records, a subsidiary of the American Columbia Records. In 1948, it issued the first commercially successful long-playing 12" record. Over the next decades its artists included Isaac Stern, Pablo Casals, Glenn Gould, Eugene Ormandy, Vangelis, Elliot Goldenthal and Leonard Bernstein.
Columbia Records used the Masterworks brand name not only for classical and Broadway records, but also for spoken-word albums such as Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly's successful I Can Hear It Now series. Parent CBS also featured the Masterworks name on its consumer electronics equipment.
In 1980, the Columbia Masterworks label was renamed CBS Masterworks Records, but in 1990, after CBS Records was acquired by Sony, it was finally renamed Sony Classical Records (Its logo echoes the "Magic Notes" logo that was Columbia's emblem until 1955). During the 1990s, the label attracted controversy under the leadership of Peter Gelb as it emphasized crossover music over mainstream classical releases, failing to make available much of its archive of great recordings.
Going "back to the future", the Masterworks name lives on in its series of Broadway cast albums, Masterworks Broadway Records, and as the name of Sony Music Entertainment's classical music division, Sony Masterworks.