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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Friday, March 26

Hanson and "The Golden Age of Radio"

Synopsis

For public radio listeners born long after the Golden Age of American Radio in the 1930s and 1940s, the variety of music broadcast on the COMMERCIAL radio stations back then seems hard to believe.

For example, on today’s date in 1938, the NBC radio network broadcast the premiere of a new symphony by the eminent American composer, Howard Hanson.

But Hanson’s Symphony was, in fact, commissioned by the rival CBS network, whose house orchestra commissioned and performed hundreds of works by American composers. The reason? On the staff of CBS was the young composer and conductor Bernard Herrmann, who later became famous for his Alfred Hitchcock film scores. In 1934, Herrmann had been hired to write background music for CBS radio shows, and eventually became the chief conductor of the CBS Radio Symphony.

The CBS Radio Symphony had premiered the opening three movements of Hanson’s Symphony on their network in the fall of 1937, but on today’s date the following year, the rival NBC Symphony broadcast the first complete performance of the whole work, conducted by Hanson himself.

Music Played in Today's Program

Howard Hanson (1896-1981) Symphony No. 3 Seattle Symphony; Gerard Schwarz, cond. Delos 3092

Additional Information

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