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Douglas Moore
photograph courtesy of Claire Jones

Douglas Stuart Moore

born: August 10th, 1893
Cutchogue, Long Island, New York

died: July 25th, 1969
Greenport, Long Island, New York

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Composer, educator, author.

Moore studied with Horatio Parker at Yale, from which he graduated in 1917. He served in the Navy as a Lieutenant, J.G., after which he went to Paris to devote his time to music. While there, he was a student of Vincent D'Indy, Charles Tournemire and Nadia Boulanger. Moore went to Cleveland in 1921 as Director of Music at the Cleveland Museum of Art, during which he studied with Ernest Bloch at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and performed in plays at the Cleveland Playhouse.

Four Museum Pieces, Moore's first serious work (about four items in the Cleveland Art Museum's collection), in its orchestrated version, was first performed by the Cleveland Orchestra with Moore conducting. It won him a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship, in 1926, allowing him to return to Europe to study with Boulanger.

Also in 1926, Moore was invited to join the music faculty at Columbia University, where he remained until his retirement in 1962. Moore was Chairman of the Columbia Dept. of Music from 1940 to 1962, as well as president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters from 1953 to 1956, director of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) from 1957 to 1960, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1951 for his opera Giants in the Earth. Moore wrote for the theater, film, ballet and orchestra. But his greatest fame came through his operas, and two in particular--The Devil and Daniel Webster, from 1938 and The Ballad of Baby Doe, premiered in 1956. Revered in his home town, he is honored each year with the Douglas Moore Memorial Concert, which takes place on or near his birth date on the town green in Cutchogue.

Douglas Moore's Cabin
Douglas Moore's cabin where the Opera was composed.
In the foreground is the ruin of the piano on which the opera was written.

Here's what was said in a speech entitled Ever Young by D. Kanzeg, at the 100th anniversary celebration of Douglas Moore's birth in his hometown of Cutchogue, Long Island.
Douglas Moore singing one of his original bawdy songs-- "Destroyer Life"--as performed in the Moore home 'Salt Meadow' in Cutchogue, Long Island, circa 1950. Pianist is very possibly John Kander, a frequent part of the Moore 'salon'.

Douglas Moore's Headstone

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James Grathwohl, of Cutchogue, stands beside his 1931 Willys Touring Car, which he purchased directly from its original owner, composer Douglas Moore. Listen to the car as Jim drives it to the 1993 Douglas Moore Memorial Concert by clicking HERE.

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Click the album cover to download the audio.


LICORICE STICK Among jazz musicians, the clarinet is often called a licorice stick for the simple reason that it looks like one. But the clarinet is not only an instrument fro playing jazz. In fact, long before modern jazz became popular, the clarinet was one of the most important instruments of the symphony orchestra. It still is—-because it has a wider range and can be played with more variety of musical expression than any other instrument.

That was not always so. Before the 18th century the clarinet (which was one of the wood-wind instruments then generally called chalumeaux) was nothing more than a cylindrical pipe played with a vibrating reed. It could play only one set of notes, so the “clarinetist” had to have many pipes of different lengths alongside him, and switch from one to another every time he wanted to play a different set of notes. That meant that clarinet notes in any musical arrangement had to be few and far between. Such a clarinet could not be very important. Then, during the 18th century, pitch holes and metal keys were added to the pipe-lengths, a bell was fastened on the end, and the modern clarinet was born.

By covering or uncovering the various pitch holes with the keys, the clarinetist could now vary the pitch of his notes and play a melody. The “new” clarinet was introduced into the symphony orchestra by Mozart, who composed the famous Clarinet Quintet you will hear on this record.

As you know, a symphony orchestra is divided into four sections: the strings, like the Violin and Double-bass; the brasses, like the French Horn and Tuba; the percussions, like the Tympani and Piano; and the woodwinds, like the Oboe and Bassoon. The clarinet is a woodwind. But, besides being excellent for solo playing, it also blends with many instruments both from the woodwind and other sections of the orchestra.

There is not much doubt that musical instruments hold a great deal of interest for the elementary school-age child. And there have been many attempts to capitalize on that through records which present animated tubas and piccolos, or which tell fanciful stories of the instruments of the orchestra.

YOUNG PEOPLE’S RECORDS believes that such sugar-coating not only in unnecessary, but that it often gets in the way, by confusing the answers to the child’s important questions about music and instruments. We believe (and work with hundreds of children has borne this out) that the instrument itself is fascinating enough to the child to permit its direct presentation. That does not mean that he is ready to be bored, as any adult would be, by a presentation that is dull and academic. It does mean that he can take a challenging and entertaining statement of the musical facts, without the talking-down cuteness some grown-ups seem to think necessary in communicating with children.

THE WONDERFUL VIOLIN (YPR-311) and SAID THE PIANO TO THE HARPSICHORD (YPR-411) presented a string and a percussion instrument, respectively, by this method. This record presents one of the woodwinds, and a record on a brass, the French horn, is in preparation. While millions of people without knowledge of the symphonic instruments enjoy music—-we believe that an understanding of the instruments and their functions heightens musical appreciation. We believe that records such as these will lead the child to that understanding.

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Douglas Moore introduced Beverly Sills singing "Willow Song" on American Music Masters. This clip from the early sixties was taken from the PBS Great Performances Special Beverly Sills: Made in America.
The video is available here.