Douglas Stuart Moore (1893-1969)
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The Making of Power and the Land (1939-1940)


Douglas Stuart Moore
1893-1969

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In 1940, Douglas Moore, the chairman of the Department of Music at Columbia University, was retained to prepare the score for Power and the Land. When Moore started working on this project in June 1940, he was just a few months short of turning 47. For over a decade-and-a half, his vocal and orchestral works had played on the concert stage.

Douglas Moore was born on August 10, 1893 in Cutchogue, Long Island, the son of Stuart Hall and Myra (Drake) Moore. He grew up in a well-to-do family, as one of his biographers Willard Rhodes has noted, surrounded by “a literary atmosphere.” His father “was a publisher by profession, and from his mother he absorbed a love of books and became an omnivorous reader.” As a result, Moore developed numerous friendships “with distinguished poets and writers” that “have been a stimulating and oftimes decisive influence in his creative career.”

Moore could have followed a brother into the publishing business, but his inclinations were more theatrical and musical. As a child, he had been “subjected” to the private piano lessons typical of fashionable households of that day. His interest in the stage also dated from his early childhood. In 1900, Moore, at the age of seven, with the assistance of his sister and two playmates, presented a drama entitled “The Bride’s Fate” in the attic of the Moore home at Cutchogue, Long Island. The young Moore also used this same space, dubbed “The Hall Theater,” for lectures, sometimes with the only audience being a few family servants.

Although his mother had promised he could drop the piano lessons once he departed for the Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Connecticut), Moore was soon involved in that prep school’s dramatic and musical groups. He even set some of classmate Archibald MacLeish’s poems to music. Graduating from the Hotchkiss School in 1911, Moore went on to Yale where he majored in music and philosophy, participated in student theatrical performances, and won some local fame by authoring a popular football song “Good Night Harvard.” After receiving his B.A. from Yale in 1915, Moore returned to Yale to undertake graduate studies with Horatio Parker in composition and with H. B. Jepson in organ. He received his degree as Bachelor of Music from Yale in 1917.

From 1917-1919, Moore served as a lieutenant j.g. in the United States Navy. After service at the Naval Academy, and then sea duty chasing German submarines, Moore was assigned to US Naval Headquarters in Paris. After being demobilized in 1919, he spent two years in Paris studying composition under Vincent d’Indy at the Schola Cantorum. In 1921, he became Assistant Curator of Music and Organist at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Here he continued his studies, this time under Ernest Bloch, then musical director of the Cleveland Institute of Music. Named Curator of the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1922, Moore played a number of leading roles on the stage in association with the Cleveland Playhouse, a semi-professional stock company. His performances were very well received.

While in Cleveland, the prolific Moore also authored Four Museum Pieces, a four-part organ work. In 1924, he composed The Pageant of P. T. Barnum, performed by the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra in 1925. According to his biographer, Moore’s Pageant of P.T. Barnum “marks a significant departure from the European refinement and tradition of the Museum Pieces.” In 1925, Moore, at the suggestion of Columbia University Music Professor Daniel Gregory Mason, transcribed his Four Museum Pieces, originally written for organ, for symphony orchestra. Presented in this form by the Cleveland Orchestra in Cleveland and New York, Four Museum Pieces won for Moore a $1,500 Pulitzer Prize traveling scholarship in 1925. Resigning his position as Curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Moore studied counterpoint under Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Attempting to develop his own independent musical style, Moore, according to his biographer Willard Rhodes, rejected Boulanger’s recommendations of Stravinsky or Faure as models for composition.


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