At the end of the fifties Karl Merseburger, owner of the Tonkunstverlag in Darmstadt, founded the label CANTATE. Nearly at the same time Karl Vötterle (Bärenreiter Publishers) in Kassel started MUSICAPHON. Intention in both cases was to release parts of the own published catalogue on soundcarriers.
After Merseburger had to terminate his Tonkunstverlag in 1963, Bärenreiter took over the label CANTATE and made it together with Musicaphon part of the distribution company "Vereinigte Schallplattenvertriebsgesellschaft Disco-Center", founded in 1965.
On both labels important releases where published in the sixties and seventies. A focus of the program were the interpretations of works by Heinrich Schütz, realized through Wilhelm Ehmann, leader of the Westfälische Kantorei in Herford, on period instruments and in historical performances. Helmuth Rilling with his Gächinger Kantorei and the Figuralchor of the Gedächtniskirche Stuttgart released cantatas by J. S. Bach. MUSICAPHON also became known worldwide through the publication of musicological releases, edited by the UNESCO (music of the Orient and African music) respective by the musicological institute of the university of Basle (music of Oceania and music of South-East Asia).
In 1994 the musicologist Dr. Rainer Kahleyss (Kassel) bought both labels, in 1996 also the distribution company, now known as "Klassik Center Kassel", from Bärenreiter. Since then is released on CANTATE sacred music, on MUSICAPHON mundane music from early Baroque up to our time. Elder but important releases from the back catalogue are also newly edited on CD continiously.