One in this educational public affairs series that traces the origins and development of the American musical theater and examines the careers and contributions of the creative artists who have made the musical a native American art form. In an informal workshop setting, New York City high school students meet the composers, lyricists, and performers who have shaped the American musical and question them about their work. This edition examines the work of composer/lyricist Meredith Willson. Willson begins by talking about a radio commercial he once produced called "Talking People" in which a group of performers used synchronized rhythm to sell a product, and demonstrates the process by instructing the audience in a rhythmic group laugh. He then expounds on his technique of setting dialogue to music by using the natural rhythmic quality in conversational phrases, and performs "Trouble" from his musical "The Music Man" to prove his point. Following this, he leads the CBS Orchestra in "Seventy-Six Trombones," also from "The Music Man," and gives another example of his use of dialogue by speaking through "I Ain't Down Yet" from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Returning to the importance of rhythm, Willson teaches the audience to spell "Tchaikovsky" by using the name in a football cheer. He then focuses on the frequent use of counterpoint in his songs, and his wife Rini joins him in the duet version of "My White Night" from "The Music Man," which, although helpful in establishing the relationship between two characters, was cut from the show. They then perform another example of counterpoint that did not make it onto the stage with "I'll Never Say No to You"/"My Own Brass Bed" from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Next, Rini sings "My Wish" from his latest production, "Here's Love," and the orchestra plays a medley of tunes from the same show. Willson closes the program by leading the audience in the closing theme song from his 1940s radio show, "The Big Show." Commercials deleted.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by The Marc Haas and Helen Hotze Haas Foundation, 1998.


  • DATE: February 15, 1964 Sunday 3:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:28:48
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:54149
  • GENRE: Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Music, popular (songs, etc.)
  • SERIES RUN: WCBS (New York, NY) - TV series, 1959-1965


  • Ned Cramer … Producer
  • Anthony Farrar … Director
  • Herb Benton … Production (Misc.) , Production Supervisor
  • Meredith Willson … Composer, Conductor, Lyricist
  • Alfredo Antonini … Conductor
  • CBS Orchestra, The … Music Group
  • Meredith Willson … Singer, Instrumentalist, Pianist
  • Rini Willson … Singer
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