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. In this edition, host Earl Wrightson pays tribute to composer Douglas Moore, who begins by discussing the role of universities in training and developing musical talent and the difficulties composers face in earning a living. He also recalls his early musical education, leading up to his holding the McDowell Chair at Columbia University, where he is head of the music department. Moore then explores his enjoyment of working on pieces that are typically American in spirit, and explains how he was inspired in his first American theme, the "P.T. Barnum Suite." After the CBS Orchestra plays his "Harvest Song," conductor Alfredo Antonini joins Moore and explains that his interest in music that expresses the nationalism of America led him to commission Moore to compose "The Cotillion," a suite for strings. Moore follows with an explanation of how the popular cake walk dance got its name, and the orchestra plays Moore's "Cake Walk" from his "Suite of American Dances." Moore remembers the other major works that brought him fame, and he reviews the details of the real-life story behind his "Ballad of Baby Doe," after which opera singer Beverly Sills performs "The Willow Song" from that work. Questions from students in the audience lead to a discussion of the following topics: the major differences between musical theater and opera, the reasons for which serious composers of the day avoid melodic work, and Moore's popularity with singers particularly because of his melodic pieces. Next, Sills sings an aria from Moore's latest work, an operatic version of Henry James's novel "The Wings of the Dove," and more questions are addressed about Moore's thoughts on operas sung in English, the importance of American themes in opera, and his status and reputation as a typically American composer.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by a grant from the GRAMMY Foundation.


  • DATE: March 4, 1962 Sunday 11:30 AM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:43:03
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:61181
  • GENRE: Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Biography
  • SERIES RUN: WCBS (New York, NY) - TV series, 1959-1965


  • Ned Cramer … Producer
  • Ethel Burns … Associate Producer
  • Neal Finn … Director
  • Douglas Moore … Composer, Guest
  • Alfredo Antonini … Conductor, Guest
  • CBS Orchestra, The … Music Group
  • Earl Wrightson … Host
  • Beverly Sills … Singer, Guest
  • P.T. Barnum
  • Henry James
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